|Large granodiorite boulder fractured by frost wedging|
The trail loops off and back to Bitterbrush Trail through forest of Jeffrey pines and various brushes. Along the trail you will find 18 sites with a marker referencing the interpretation section in the brochure. Let's have a look at some of the sites.
At the nature trail/Bitterbrush Trail junction next to the Galena Creek bridge you will see tobacco brush. This evergreen is common on open-forest slopes of the Carson Range; found, for example, alongside Kings Canyon Upper Waterfall Loop. Snowbrush, its other name, highlights its inflorescences of long clusters with white flowers during bloom.
Ascending the nature trail alongside Galena Creek, which cascades downhill through the Mt. Rose wilderness from Tamarack Peak, you will soon get to the sites comparing Jeffrey pine and white fir. The brochure explains that Jeffrey pines are the dominant pine tree species in the park, distinguished by 8 to 10 inch long needles in bundles of three and 5 to 10 inch cones with in-turned prickles. Notice all the pine cones laying on the forest floor.
|Fallen-off cone of Jeffrey pine with in-turned prickles|
|Forked trunk of white fir|
The right-side photo depicts trunk forking observed with several Galena Creek firs. According to the brochure “this is a rather odd coincidence. They usually grow tall and straight. Several other trees near the creek also have forked trunks. One possible explanation is that debris from past floods took the tops off these trees. When the top of a tree is cut off, growth occurs from remaining branches which fork into two or more trunks.”
From trees to brushes: continuing your round walk along the upper section of the nature trail, you will learn about sagebrush, Sierra willows, curl-leaf mountain mahagony, greenleaf manzanita and bitterbrush.
|Bark and leaves of curl-leaf mountain mahogany shrub developing curled-up fruit tails in fall|
|Cinnamon-red bark of greenleaf manzanita branches|
Walk through, don't get stuck and have fun with split-boulder squeezing!
|Map with 0.7-mile-long Galena Creek Nature Trail (GCNT)|