Patch of wintergreen
Anthony Brown/USFWS

You may have noticed throughout your hike these low lying glossy leaves. This plant is wintergreen, and its red berries (shown below) are edible and the leaves can be chewed for a wintergreen taste. It really does taste like chewing gum! This taste comes from a chemical called methyl salicylate, which is an active ingredient in aspirin. Always use caution when consuming wild plants! Make sure you have properly identified the plant, then taste a small amount to ensure you do not have an allergic reaction before consuming more. Wintergreen is a member of the heath family and is an evergreen plant, keeping its green color throughout winter even under thick snow.

wintergreen berries
Alyssa Lu/USFWS