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wildflowers in the Smoky Mountains

Top 4 Trails for Viewing the Smoky Mountain Wildflowers This Spring

March 21, 2023

The spring months are the perfect time to visit the Smoky Mountains, complete with amazing weather to enjoy the great outdoors! In addition to the return of our thrilling white rafting adventures, spring welcomes back over 1,500 types of gorgeous wildflowers to the Smokies! While you’ll see these stunning flowering plants virtually anywhere throughout the region, there are several hikes that offer exceptional wildflower viewing opportunities! Here are the top 4 trails for viewing the Smoky Mountain wildflowers this spring:

1. Chestnut Top Trail

The Chestnut Top Trail is an excellent option for those hoping to combine wildflower viewing with a challenging hike! You can spot nearly 50 species of flowers along this strenuous 8.6-mile round trip hike, including spring beauties, white trillium, purple phacelia, plantain-leaved pussytoes, star chickweed, and wild stonecrop! If you’re not up for the entire hike, you’ll be happy to know that the first half mile of the Chestnut Top Trail offers the best section for viewing wildflowers! For those that do decide to continue forward, you’ll eventually be met by a series of switchbacks that lead to some incredible mountain vistas!

2. Gregory Ridge Trail

gregory bald trail in the smoky mountainsIf you’re exploring the Cades Cove Loop Trail during your Smoky Mountain vacation this spring, take a slight detour to stretch your legs along Gregory Ridge Trail! This trail, which is located at the end of Forge Creek Road, offers a strenuous 11.3-mile round-trip hike with 3,020 feet in elevation gain! If that sounds a bit intimidating, you’ll be happy to know that the best wildflower viewing areas are within the first 2 miles of this trail! If you do feel inclined to continue forward, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views from the top of Gregory Bald which include Cades Cove, Nantahala National Forest, and the Yellow Creek Mountains!

3. Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail

Another one of the top trails for viewing the Smoky Mountain wildflowers this spring is the Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail, which is situated in the Chimneys Picnic Area about 4.4 miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This loop trail not only features some of the best wildflower displays in the park but also makes a perfect choice for those who want a shorter hike as it’s just 3/4 of a mile long! The forest floor along the Cove Hardwoods Nature Trail completely erupts in blossoms during the spring, and some of the species you’ll find during your hike include fringed phacelia, trilliums, spring beauties, squirrel corn, toothworts, rue anemone, and violets.

4. Little River Trail

little pigeonThe Little River Trail is a wonderful place for viewing the Smoky Mountain wildflowers in the Elkmont section of the park! You’ll find the trailhead on a side road that starts just before you enter the Elkmont Campground. Most folks walk as far as where the Little River Trail crosses the Cucumber Gap Trail, for a nice 5-mile round-trip hike. The trail is well maintained and offers plenty of room to walk side-by-side, as it was once an old gravel railroad bed and the road was used for logging in the early 1900s.

As if the Smoky Mountain wildflowers aren’t enough to draw you to the Smokies this spring, you also won’t want to miss our spring white water rafting trips on the Pigeon River! This is a unique opportunity to go rafting when the water levels are unpredictable, so be sure to join us for this incredible adventure!