We will meet at a public parking area and carpool to the hike site because there is very limited parking there.
March 17, 2024 1:00 – 3:30 PM CDT
For this hike we selected a date when the serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) is likely to be in bloom. Located near the heavily developed neighborhood of Bellevue, the Belle Forest Cave Property is a quiet untouched area covered by a large diversity of trees in a small area. Its name is derived from a small cave with a small ‘cool house’ build by the last farmer in the valley in the mid-19th century to store milk and meat during the hot summers. Three streams, one flowing from the cave, converge to form a tributary of the Harpeth River. These clean streams provide the basis for a rich lowland hardwood forest with several large trees. The cave is located on the base of a central incline that ascends to a ridge which extends for a mile towards the West Meade area. This ridge constitutes a remnant of the Highland Rim and is geologically different from the limestone strata below. The difference between the alkaline soil and the streams in the valley and the dry, acid soil on top gives rise to a diversity of trees. As one ascends a small path up the hill from the cave we find Mockernut Hickory (C. tomentosa), Pignut Hickory (C. glabra), several Red Oak species and large examples of Chestnut Oaks (Quercus montana). An open area just above the cave is covered with old Farkleberry bushes (Vaccinium arboreum), and surrounded by Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica), Post Oak (Quercus stellata) and Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum). In early Spring we find several smaller Serviceberry trees (Amelanchier arborea) scattered along the slopes. Native azaleas (Rhododendron canescens and R. alabamense) are another treasure on this hill. They are found only on this hilltop and then scattered 1-2 miles away towards some hillsides in West Meade. None of them can be found in the Warner parks, to our knowledge.
|Southern Red Oak
|Northern Red Oak