Vaseyi Trail and Vaseyi Pond

An altar of rare plants of the Southern Appalachians

The Vaseyi Trail leads visitors through the towering canopy of the Woodland Glade to an open garden room featuring the Vaseyi Pond. Undulating through a tunnel of vaseyis, the trail leads visitors to an expansive garden room where the Vaseyi Pond and Viewsite beckon visitors to take a deep breath and take in the beauty surrounding them. Hand-in-hand, the Vaseyi Pond and its neighbor, the Viewsite, invite visitors to witness an uninterrupted north-facing view of the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains as they embrace an expansive clear blue sky.

The Vaseyi Trail was one of the first and favorite features of our founder. He ‘discovered it’ and with the assistance of our Landscape Architect, W. Gary Smith, interpreted it as the enchanted path it is today. Except for the construction of two wooden bridges that cross Vaseyi Creek, about the only human change made here is to keep the path open and a little bark on the path.

From Gary Smith, Southern Highlands Reserve Landscape Architect, on the Vaseyi Trail:

“We didn’t have to do a thing but put a path through the most extensive grove of mature vaseyi azalea I’d ever seen (turns out there’s an even bigger one elsewhere on the Reserve, might be the largest in the region), linking the Woodland Glade to John Turner’s masterpiece of a gorgeous pond. I chose the route, the SHR crew built the path, and Aaron Bailey and Jesse Morgan crafted these fabulous footbridges from curving trunks of black locust.”


Explore: The Vaseyi Trail and Vaseyi Pond Gallery

The Vaseyi Trail at Southern Highlands Reserve is home to what azalea experts have described as “the largest known natural stand of R. Vaseyi in the world.” A narrow footpath winds under and through the thicket of twenty-foot tall Rhododendron Vaseyi, bathed in bright pink blossoms during the spring. The trail is interspersed with Clethra acuminata and white spires of Galax and large boulders of naturally-occuring quartz. Two wooden footbridges constructed by Aaron Bailey and Jesse Morgan from curving trunks of black locust cross Vaseyi Creek, providing viewing areas of the Vaseyi from the bridges.

Built for its natural beauty and to provide adequate irrigation for the gardens, Vaseyi Pond is both an essential aesthetic and functional element of the Reserve. The pond is home to Rhododendron, Hydrangea and Viburnum. Phlox and Tiarella brighten the early spring days, and several varieties of Rudbeckia, hydrangeas, turtleheads and veronicastrums make their entrance in summer. In the late summer, Joe Pyes take over until the leaves begin to change color in fall.

Plant Varieties:

  • R. vaseyi
  • Rhododendron
  • Hydrangea
  • Viburnum
  • Rudbeckia lacinata
  • Rudbeckia fulgida
  • Rudbeckia goldstrum
  • Phlox
  • Tiarella
  • Turtleheads
  • Viburnum nudum
  • Hydrangea aborescens
  • Radiata
  • Native blueberries
  • R. catawabiense
  • Clethra acuminate
  • Galax
  • Joe Pye weed