Belle Forest Cave & Arboretum Hike

| Plant ID Hike

We will meet at a public parking area and carpool to the hike site because there is very limited parking there.

Member-only hike

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 (Cglabra), 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.

Registration is required.

Arboretum List

Scientific Name Common Name
Acer negundo Boxelder
Acer saccharum Sugar Maple
Amelanchier arborea Serviceberry
Asimina triloba Pawpaw
Carya glabra Pignut Hickory
Carya laciniosa Shellbark Hickory
Carya tomentosa Mockernut Hickory
Celtis larvigata Sugarberruy
Cercis canadensis Redbud
Cladrastris kentukea Yellowwood
Cornus florida Eastern Dogwood
Diospyros virginiana Persimmon
Fagus grandifolia American Beech
Fraxinus americana White Ash
Juniperus virginiana Eastern Redcedar
Leriodendron tulipifera Yellow Poplar
Liquidambar styraciflua American Sweetgum
Morus rubra Red Mulberry
Nyssa sylvatica Black Gum
Oxydendrum arboreum Sourwood
Populus deltoides Eastern Cottonwood
Prunus serotina Black Cherry
Quercus alba White Oak
Quercus coccinea Scarlet Oak
Quercus falcata Southern Red Oak
Quercus montana Chestnut Oak
Quercus rubra Northern Red Oak
Quercus shumardii Shumard Oak
Quercus stellata Post Oak
Quercus velotina Black Oak
Robinia pseudiacacua Black Locust
Sassafras albidum Sassafras
Ulmus alata Winged Elm
Ulmus rubra Slippery Elm
Vaccunium arboreum Farkleberry