Members of Polk County Middle School’s Nature Navigators recently headed to Walnut Creek Preserve in Mill Spring for a mid-December hike.

The PCMS group was led by Babbs Strickland and one of her dogs, Baird. Her other dog, Cooper, also hiked with the group, but he always brought up the rear.

One of the first things students saw was an outstanding view of Sugarloaf Mountain and part of the Hickory Nut Gorge, including the backside of Chimney Rock State Park.

Strickland pointed out the highest peak in the area, World’s Edge, which stands 3,900 feet tall.

The group then crossed three creeks and arrived at Walnut Falls. Students took lots of pictures at the waterfall and had fun watching the dogs run and splash in the water.

On the hike back to the van, students found that turkey must travel or live in this area. Severeign identified turkey scat, and John found a turkey feather.

The group learned that the preserve has three tree species with red leaves after Evie found a red leaf on the ground. Strickland told us that the leaf could be from a sourwood, black gum tupelo, or dogwood tree.

Club advisor Rowann Hoy noted that it was a beautiful hike full of many nature investigations.