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Follow the food and bikes: Custis Trail and Cherrydale

Follow the food and bikes on Custis Trail to Cherrydale
Follow the food and bikes on Custis Trail to Cherrydale
James George

Today’s hike developed around a theme of following the food and bikes. First, there were the last of the black cherries. I keep saying that but the cherries are hanging on much longer than I expected.

Bikers on Custis Trail
James George

When it comes to cultivated cherries, here is the deal, they start in April and end in August for domestic production. However, local wild cherries have a different story. While we see the blossoms in springtime that seems to be all at one time, there is actually some spacing in between various types of cherry trees. Many of the trees in Arlington, Virginia are either decorative or wild. Now, there are still some wild black cherries on the trees. They taste intense and a little bitter in flavor. They are small with a seemingly giant seed. They make a nice snack while hiking.

“Cherries are only available for a limited time during the year. So if you want to enjoy some, it’s important to know when they are in season. To give you a better understanding of how the season unfolds, I will talk about how one company, Stemilt, extends the season. Stemilt is located in Washington, but they work with farms all the way down to southern California.

The harvest begins in southern California, in Bakersfield. This usually begins around the end of April. The earliest cherry variety is the Brooks cherry, which is a cross between a Rainier and a Bing. From there, the harvest moves north to the Stockton/Modesto area. By early June, the harvest comes to an end in California. At this time, the cherries in Washington will be ready. They start in the Pasco/Mattawa area and move north to Chelan, Okanagan, and Wenatchee. They are also able to harvest cherries in higher elevation all the way into late August.”

The same can be said about raspberries. First, there are black raspberries and white raspberries, followed by wild red raspberries. When they are gone, along come blackberries. Next, cultivated red raspberries are ripe as they are now. (See the photo from Bud’s garden.)

While hiking today, I observed the various gardens while picking wild cherries.

Then, a large group of bicyclists came along and gave a courteous ring from their handlebars. (Passing) The reached the bottom of the hill where they gathered around a water fountain to take a break.

I photographed life in the pond including swamp mallows. Then, I took a cut through Cherrydale Park and observed the very old and tall trees, including a hickory nut tree.

I hooked through the neighborhood and reconnected with the Custis Trail just in time to see the bikers struggling up the steep trail. They were exhausted and I actually passed them. Ha!