As America’s most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomes around nine million visitors each year. Although most visitors flock to the Smokies in the summertime, there is an increasing number of reasons to visit during the off seasons. For those wishing to avoid the peak season crowds, Spring is a great time to visit the park. Not to mention, it is also the best time to see the park’s famous wildflowers. Below is a list of some of the finest hiking trails to see wildflowers on your next visit to the Smokies.
Porters Creek Trail
This famous and heavily wooded trail seems to always top the list of favorite spots to see wildflowers. This moderately difficult trail runs 4 miles roundtrip and reaches a max elevation of 2642 feet. It is one of the best spots in the Smokies to see blooming violets, white trilliums, hepaticas, and much more. There are also a number of historical sights to stop at along the way. Among these are a historic farm site, John Messer’s 1875 cantilevered barn, and the foundation of an old settlement.
Little River Trail
Running 4.9 miles roundtrip and with a max elevation of 2637 feet, the Little River Trail is a beautiful trail that follows the river of the same name. Many small waterfalls and boulders can be seen along the river. Little River is now a preserved river through the Outstanding National Resource Waters program, which means its water is incredibly clean and pure. Along the trail are several old cabins, including the Appalachian Clubhouse. This trail is a great spot to see yellow trillium, stonecrop, hepaticas, and Canadian violets.
Rich Mountain Loop
The incredibly popular Rich Mountain Loop is a great hiking trail year-round. At 8.5 miles round trip, this beautiful loop rises to a max elevation of 3691 feet, and considered strenuous in difficulty. Rich Mountain Loop is a great spot to take in the views of Cades Cove without sitting in the traffic-ridden, 11 mile Cades Cove Loop Road. This trail is made famous by its great number of wildflowers, which include rattlesnake hawkweed, yellow ragwort, mountain laurel, and many more.
Beginning at the Clingmans Dome parking lot, the extremely popular 1.8 mile hike to Andrews Bald is perfect for families and those wishing to explore the high altitude area of Clingmans Dome. This is one of the highest trails in the Smokies, reaching a max elevation of 6310 feet, with an elevation change of 1200 feet. Hikers can experience acres of beautiful grassy meadows, spectacular vistas, and enjoy views of Fontana Lake. Frasers firs, Quaker ladies, and patches of raspberries and blackberries are often seen in this area.
Lead Cove Trail (Spence Field)
At a max elevation of 4919 feet, this strenuous 9.4 mile-long to Spence Field is known as one of the most beautiful trails in the park. When you reach Spence Field, you can take in beautiful and expansive views of the North Carolina Smokies. Spence Field is the perfect place to see sprawling mountain laurel, which can be found covering the area.