Devils Orchard Trail - Hiking Idaho

 

Devils Orchard is a flat tangled array in Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA.

 

 

The Devils Orchard Trail in Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idahois a virtually flat, strangely bizarre, ½ mile (0.8 KM), wheelchair accessible trail where large lava fragments coexist within cinder fields interrupted by tangled vegetation. 

A long time ago, a man of the cloth astutely observed that only the devil could survive here.

 

Devils Orchard Trail - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA Each trail loop is accurately graded for length and incline. Well done.

 

Newly paved and recently re-opened path leads through Devils Orchard which is a jumble of volcanic rock, surrounded by a wide variety of  trees and plants.  There are large numbers of dead trees in various stages of decomposition spanning over hundreds of years.

 

Devils Orchard Trail - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA Dead trees and sagebrush complement a wide range of desert plant life amongst rugged volcanic rock.

 

Devils Orchard Trail - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA

 

Many rocks are covered with several varieties of multi-colored lichen which gradually dissolve the rock to create soil where higher forms of plant life can progressively take root and slowly break up the volcanic rock over hundreds of years.

 

Devils Orchard Trail - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA

 

Eventually, sufficient soil will be created to support large trees.  Large and old Limber Pine trees were malformed in Devils Orchard by a small parasitic plant known as Dwarf Mistletoe.  This causes the tree to become disfigured.  The parasite usually reduces the longevity of the tree but does not out-right kill the tree. 

Well-intentioned park management staff took care of killing them before the relationship between the plants was understood.  Limber Pines were altered by Dwarf Mistletoe to create 'witches broom' on the branches.

 

Devils Orchard Trail - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA Limber pines malformed by parasitic Dwarf Mistletoe in Devils Orchard.

 

Devils Orchard Trail - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA

Devils Orchard Trail - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA A view across tangled Devils Orchard of a tall tree silhouetted at the top of a cinder cone mound (Inferno Cone) in the distance.

 

Dwarf Buckwheat dots large plains of black cinder.  It is a very beautiful mosaic.

 

Devils Orchard Trail - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA Large fields of black cinder artistically host thousands of highly contrasted white Dwarf Buckwheat plants

 

Devils Orchard Trail - Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, USA A single Dwarf Buckwheat plant about 5 inches (12.7 cm) across. Exquisitely detailed and delicate.

 

Following a very pleasant and educational stroll through Devils Orchard, a short drive around the road loop to the next exhibit at Inferno Cone will illustrate how different volcano types contribute to the diversity of the terrain.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

It is starkly beautiful and not a place to trip and tumble. We dedicated half a day to tour the short trails in Craters of the Moon National Moument, to discover its unique characteristics and to break up the driving to Yosemite National Park in California. I have been to many lava fields and each has secrets to reveal. It was a great few hours and not crowded on a week day. Thanks for your comment, D.

Really interesting terrain. What contrasts to those we usually wander. DSD

Thanks for your comment, Charlie! The Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho was a fascinating stop on the way to Yosemite National Park in California. You are quite right. The photography is challenging. There is a lot of black but it is interesting to compare older against newer lava flows and the wide range of animal and plant life in such an apparently forbidding environment. BTW, enjoyed your excellent photos from the Edmonton area.

Cool place. I've never heard it before. I love these types of places. Can be a challenge to take pictures of it but is fun. Like the badlands :)

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