What’s more dazzling than the Great Smoky Mountains in spring? We’re talking about a proliferation of wildflowers lighting up the slopes, with a varied growing season providing a changing colorscape from mid-April through late July. On the best spring hikes near Gatlinburg, you’ll find trails showcasing the Smoky Mountains’ finest wildflowers as the trees burst into beautiful green life. It’s the perfect way to recover from a long winter!
The wildflower season typically begins in March. In these early weeks of spring, you’ll begin to see blooms from small flowers such as the spring beauty, a white or pink bloom with deeper veins of color through its five petals. As the season wears on, more and more flowers erupt until June brings azaleas and rhododendrons. For a wonderful list of wildflowers you can find in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit the National Parks website here.
Chestnut Top Trail: Located about forty-five minutes’ drive from Gatlinburg, Chestnut Top Trail is a fairly strenuous climb which achieves nearly 1500 feet of elevation on a 8.6 mile roundtrip hike. The low elevations of this trail burst into color with spring beauties and other early wildflowers in early March, and continues throughout the season with bold blooms such as white trillium and fire pinks. Visit before the dense green leaves of summer arrive and you’ll get a gorgeous overlook of the Townsend and Tuckaleechee Coves.
Cove Hardwood Self-Guided Nature Trail: Close to Gatlinburg and easy to access, this is a perfect trail for novice hikers. Just a three-quarters of a mile loop, the trail appears on the National Park Service’s list of recommended wildflower hikes. You can find early flowers here in March such as trout-lilies, which Native Americans took as a hint it was time to start fishing for trout, but don’t worry if you’re late to the party — the wildflower show lasts until June.
Rich Mountain Loop: This trail is filled with delight in any season, but its wildflowers make April and May wonderful times to visit. Beginning with one of the beautiful Cades Cove meadows and passing the historic John Oliver cabin, the Rich Mountain Loop continues through rich growth of mountain laurel, flame azalea, and other brilliant wildflowers. This trail also meets up with several other trails which can take you past Crooked Arm Falls, a twenty-five foot waterfall. Visit Hiking in the Smokies for details on this detour.
Gregory Bald: The azaleas of Gregory Bald are world-famous. These brilliant blooms take over the shrubbery at the top of this ridge, and appear in hybrid colors and patterns not found anywhere else in the world. White, pink, orange, and yellow azaleas have been hybridizing on their own for the past seventy years, since the bald’s grazing land was closed, and now researchers mingle with hikers, taking in the spectacle. This is a challenging hike located in the Cades Cove region of the park, and there are several ways to reach it, outlined here at Hiking in the Smokies.
No matter what season you visit the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll find breathtaking scenery awaiting you! Make your stay convenient and comfortable at Gatlinburg Town Square by Exploria Resorts, with accommodations from studios to two-bedroom condos, many with fireplaces. Play in our indoor pool all winter and our outdoor pool all summer, and walk to downtown Gatlinburg. Or head out to the country and stay in a furnished condo at Mountain Meadows by Exploria Resorts, in nearby Pigeon Forge. You can find out more by clicking on our Destinations tab.