Most of the year, Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) wraps its thick and woody stems around host trees and climbs unobtrusively skyward, green five-leaf clusters blending unobtrusively.
But this time of year, those leaf clusters flame out in shades ranging from crimson to purple and put on the first major woodland show of the season --- as the turning toward winter commences. Other leaves are just beginning to turn, so this native variety of ivy grabs all the attention.
Virginia creeper won't hurt you (but watch out for three-leaved poison ivy, which will) and be sure to take time to admire the patterns that develop on the trail as leaves fall.
So look down as well as up. Walnuts also are falling on the trail --- keep an eye out for those, too. It's far too lovely a season to fall down and break an arm.
The sunlight was watery yesterday, so the colors weren't registering as brightly as they might have under other circumstances as I walked part of the trail at Red Haw.
That trail, roughly three miles around the lake if I'm remembering correctly, is good walking any time of the year, but is about to become really pretty. Plus, because it's been a relatively dry late summer, most of the bogs have dried out and you won't get your feet wet.