Top 5 Best Spring Wildflower Hikes In the Great Smoky Mountains
Springtime in the Great Smoky Mountains is nothing short of spectacular. From late March to mid-May, stunning wildflowers form a colorful carpet in the valleys and mountainsides. Here’s a guide finding some of the most spectacular displays.
Each year, the Gatlinburg, TN area hosts the annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, a week-long celebration of the area’s flora, fauna, natural history, and culture. It’s held during peak wildflower season, but remember that peak season lasts for a month or longer each spring. There’s still time to plan a beautiful mountain getaway and drink in the beauty of the season.
1. Porters Creek Trail
This trail combines history with natural beauty. It begins as an old gravel road that passes by an old farmstead and historic cemetery before becoming a narrower footpath. The path leads you to a magical valley where a stunning waterfall helps nourish violets, woodland bluets, trillium, and Jack-in-the-Pulpit blossoms. The hike is a relatively easy 4 mile round trip.
2. Oconaluftee River Trail
This easy, 3-mile walk begins at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. More than 40 species of wildflowers have been noted, with the best displays appearing in late-April and during the fall.
3. Husky Gap
During April and May, hillsides along this trail are literally covered in blossoms. You’ll see different varieties of trillium, phlox, violets, rhododendron and more. While rewarding, this trail is for experienced hikers in good shape. You first have to hike 3 miles along the Little River Trail to reach Husky Gap.
4. Schoolhouse Gap
This easy hike of fewer than 4 miles treats you to incredible displays of Virginia bluebells, lady’s slippers, mountain laurel, and a variety of other blossoms. This is a wide, well-kept trail suitable for families.
5. Kanati Fork Trail
This moderately strenuous trail offers a variety of flowers from the earliest violets in mid-March to more sumptuous displays during peak season (mid-April). Late summer & fall is also a good viewing time for the last flowers of the season.
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