March 13, 2020
There are wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains you can see throughout the year, but the most abundant amount occur in the spring and summer. They come in every color imaginable, and you’ll see them sprinkled along the trails and even in the trees as they bloom. We know you want to enjoy as many of them as possible, so we have put together a list of the top places where you can find these beautiful flowers. Here are the top 5 places where you can see wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains:
Cades Cove is probably the top place to see wildflowers. You will be able to see them in the fields as you drive by them. In the fields, you’ll probably see Queen Anne’s lace and butterfly weed. If you make your way to John Oliver’s Cabin, you’ll see all kinds of flowers on your way there. Plus, there are lots of shade loving wildflowers if you decide to hike the Rich Mountain Loop! If you decide to hike to Abrams Falls, you’ll also see plenty of wildflowers along this trail too, such as azalea and mountain laurel. Other flowers you will probably see include lady slippers, daisies, and black eyed susans.
Schoolhouse Gap Trail is a great place to hike where you can see wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains. This trail is 4.7 miles roundtrip and considered moderate. It is near Townsend, and you just have to go about 4 miles from the Townsend Y to get to the trailhead. At the beginning of your hike, 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 rhododendron and mountain laurel 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 is a 4 mile roundtrip hike that is considered moderate. This first mile of this trail is an old gravel road, where you will walk alongside the creek. After the first mile, you will see a junction where you can veer off and see an old homestead. If you go the other way at the junction, you will continue to head towards Fern Branch Falls, which is 60 feet tall. After about 2 miles on the trail, you’ll start to see wildflowers. At the beginning of spring, you will see 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 is a 5 mile roundtrip hike that is considered easy to moderate. At the beginning of this trail, you will pass old cottages. You might also see lots of rhododendron at this point. About 2 miles in, you will find Huskey Branch Falls, a 20-foot-tall waterfall. For the best wildflower viewing on Little River Trail, you should go in March and April. 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.
A short but great hike for seeing wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains is Metcalf Bottoms Trail. When you first get to Metcalf Bottoms, you’ll have an amazing view of the river, and you might want to explore this area before you get started on the hike. The roundtrip length is 1.5 miles and it is 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. If you keep going another 1.5 miles, you’ll get to 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 us. If you want even more ideas for things to do in the area, look at our Freedom Fun Pass. You’ll receive free tickets and discounts to local attractions!