Where To Hike to View Wildflowers
Spring is right around the corner and we could not be more excited about welcoming it. Goodbye to the cold winter weather and hello to the colorful and beautiful Smoky Mountain wildflowers! What better way to enjoy the beauty of the wildflowers than by hiking in the National Park?
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers over 800 miles of maintained trails. Many people start hitting the hiking trails in the Spring each year to view the beautiful wildflowers that are beginning to bloom. There are more than 1600 species of flowering plants in America’s favorite National Park with about 300 of those be rare species. In fact, although the Smoky Mountains is not the largest Park, it does offer the most diversity when it comes to plants. No matter the time of year, there is usually something always blooming whether it be a tree, vine or flower. In my opinion, there is simply nothing as beautiful as Spring time in the Smokies though. Let me tell you the best trails to hit this year so you can enjoy the explosion of vibrant colors and beauty among the trails.
Enjoy a three and a half mile roundtrip trek to the Smoky Mountains highest bald. Andrews Bald sits a little over 6,000 feet and thanks to maintenance from the National Park, it is one of the easier climbing hikes. Known for its late Spring and early Summer shows of flame azalea and rhododendron, this is a hike that is not to be missed.
To reach this trailhead, park at the Clingman’s Dome parking area. You will descend in the southern part of the area. Then, instead of following to the right to catch the Appalachian Trail, you will stay to your left. There will be one more area where you will, again, stay to the left. Continue on and you will reach this beautiful bald,
Chestnut Top Trail
This trail begins showing displays of color in early March. The first mile of this 8 mile (roundtrip) hike will get you going as it is a good and steady climb. Incredible blooms surround you all within a few hundred feet of the trailhead. It is amazing to see the yellow trillium, bloodroot and violets stretching along the trail. Later on in the Spring, you will also find bishop’s cap, fire pink, star chickweed and white trillium. No worries if you do not make it up to this area in early March, as it is ever changing through the end of Summer.
The trailhead and parking area is located around 100 yards from the Townsend “Y” on Route 73.
Little River Trail
Located in the Elkmont area of the Great Smoky Mountains, this is a 4.9 mile roundtrip hike that takes you along the peaceful stream. Yellow trillium, canadian violets, rhododendrons and hepaticas are quite commonly seen. Mid March and April is when you have the best chance of seeing these blooming wonders.
Gregory Bald Trail
This one is a longer hike as it is about 11 miles roundtrip, but it is also one of the most rewarding. Gregory Bald is a 10 acre grass meadow that offers amazing views of flame like flowers and surrounding mountain peaks. The first few miles are pretty flat, but you will soon be climbing up to around 2,000 feet before you reach the Gregory Bald Trail junction. After the junction, you take a right and continue climbing until you see some of the best views of your life. A lot of folks really like to trek up to this particular meadow in June because it is one of, if not the best, place to see flame azaleas anywhere in the world. People from all over travel to the Smoky Mountains during June to witness the fire red, wine red, salmon, pink and other colored azaleas. It is easy to say that if you are a hiker or nature person at all, this hike should be at the top of your list.
To reach the trailhead, you enter the Cades Cove loop until you reach Parson Branch Road on your right. Take Parsons Branch Road for a little over three miles until you see the trailhead.
Rich Mountain Loop
This trail is a wonderful way to spend the day! It is 8.5 miles roundtrip and offers a diverse amount of wildflowers that include purple phacelia, rattlesnake hawkweed, sweet shrub, fourleaf milkweed and many more.
Cosby Nature Trail
This is an easy one mile trail that is great for viewing squirrel corn, dutchman’s britches, squawroot and trillium.
The trailhead is located in the Cosby Campground.
Porters Creek Trail
This is one of my favorite hikes altogether, but in the Spring it is even more special. This is a terrific hike to enjoy with the whole family as it is a relaxing 4 mile hike. You will see old homesites and a stone wall as you trek down this gravel road. Mayapple, dwarf ginseng and wild geranium will surround you if you choose to enjoy this Spring hike.
Wildflowers that can be found throughout the Spring season in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Where to Stay after you Hike the Smokies
If relaxation sounds like something you and your family would enjoy after enjoying one or a few of the Spring Hikes we mentioned above, then we have three Pigeon Forge Condo locations that will suit you. We offer one to four bedroom condominiums that overlook the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the City of Pigeon Forge or the Little Pigeon River. Cedar Lodge and Bear Crossing are located on the river and offer two and three bedroom condos while Whispering Pines sits above the Parkway and offers mountain and city views.
In March, we do run a free night special so be sure to take advantage of the extra savings when you visit the Smoky Mountains.