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There are wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains you can see throughout the year, but the spring and summer are prime times of the year to see them. They come in every color, and you’ll see them along trails and when the trees bloom.
Cades Cove is probably the top place to see wildflowers. In the fields, you’ll see Queen Anne’s lace and butterfly weed. On your way to John Oliver’s Cabin, you’ll see many flower varieties. Shade loving wildflowers if you hike Rich Mountain Loop. When hiking to Abrams Falls, you’ll see wildflowers as well. There are azaleas and mountain laurels. Other flowers you might see include are lady slippers, daisies.
Schoolhouse Gap Trail
Schoolhouse Gap Trail is a great hike to see wildflowers. This trail is 4.7 miles roundtrip and considered moderate. It is near Townsend, about 4 miles from the Townsend Y to the trailhead. At the beginning, you will probably see Virginia bluebells. The higher you go, the more likely you are to spot beaked violets, pink lady’s slippers, fairy wand, golden aster, star grass, red clover, Robin’s plantain, sun drops, Catesby’s trillium, and lyre-leaf sage. There are also rhododendrons and mountain laurels blooming in the spring. If you are coming in the summer or fall, you will likely see purple ironweed, southern harebell, blue lobelia, and sweet Joe Pye weed.
Porters Creek Trail
Porters Creek Trail is a 4 mile roundtrip hike that is considered moderate. This first mile is an old gravel road, where you walk by the creek. After wards, there is a junction where you can veer off to see an old homestead. If you go the other way at the junction, you will arrive at Fern Branch Falls, which is 60 feet tall. After about 2 miles on the trail, wildflowers begin in spring. You can enjoy seeing bloodroot, hepaticas, white fringed phacelia, violets, and white trilliums. In later spring, you are likely to find yellow trillium, toothwort, wild geranium, May-apple, dwarf ginseng, blue phlox, baneberry, foam flower, halberd-leaved violets, woodland bluets, and Jack-in-the-pulpits.
Little River Trail
Little River Trail is a 5 mile roundtrip hike that is considered easy to moderate. At the beginning of this trail, you will pass old cottages. At the 2 mile point is Huskey Branch Falls, a 20 foot waterfall. March and April offer the best months to viewing wildflowers. You might find hepaticas, rue anemone, crested dwarf iris, yellow trillium, dwarf cinquefoil, stonecrop, Canadian violets, and umbrella leaf. In the summer, you could see mountain mint and orange and pale jewelweed.
Metcalf Bottoms and Walker Sisters Trail
A short but great hike for seeing wildflowers is Metcalf Bottoms Trail. The hike is 1.5 miles and considered easy. At the end of the trail is an old log cabin that was built by The Walker Sisters’ ancestors. This cabin was used as a schoolhouse and a church. After another 1.5 miles, is the Walker Sisters’ cabin. The best time to see the flowers on this hike is in the early spring. Some of the flowers you might see include columbine, pink lady slipper orchids, purple violets, and crested dwarf iris.
You have so many places where you can find wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains. Exploring the national park is definitely something you’ll want to do the next time you stay with
My Bearfoot Cabins.
Pat and Don Kirchhoefer, owners