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Wildflower Trails – The Best in the Blue Ridge Mountains

As Spring arrives here in the mountains, the mountains once again turn bright green. While this alone is beautiful, spring also brings forth a burst of color as spring wildflowers, and trees begin to bloom and flourish. The mountains of the Blue Ridge become full of hundreds of species of wildflowers.

In fact, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is often called the “Wildflower Park” because of the dense amounts of wildflowers, and many species.

While nearly all hiking trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains are outstanding candidates for seeing wildflowers, a few trails standout above the others.

Our Guide below will highlight those trails for you and include several photos from the trails and photos of common wildflowers.

Wildflower Trails – Our top picks

Wildflower Trails

If your timing is right, these wildflower trails all delivery gorgeous spring wildflowers.

The best times are early April to end of April, and into May. However, you’ll want to keep an eye out for posts with updates on the wildflowers, as peak times can vary each year. 

Our Blue Ridge Mountain Life Facebook Group is the best way to do this.

Porter’s Creek Trail – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Porters Creek Trail
Fringed Phacelia along Porter’s Creek Trail

Porter’s Creek Trail is on the Gatlinburg side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is our favorite wildflower trail to visit in the spring. The entire trail is full of various types of wildflowers, including multiple variations of Trillium.

But one particular section of the trail, which is after the “big log bridge”, is carpeted with Fringed-Phacelia, a small delicate white flower. The scene along this portion of the trail in early April is breathtaking.

Fringed-Phacelia
Fringed-Phacelia

Porter’s Creek Trail is a popular wildflower hike and even more so in April, as people come to see the wildflowers.

>> See our Porter’s Creek Trail Guide for more information, including photos and directions.

Graveyard Fields – Blue Ridge Parkway

Graveyard Fields
Lower Falls at Graveyard Fields

One of our personal favorite areas to visit and hike in Western North Carolina is Graveyard Fields, on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  

During the spring, you’ll find an abundance of spring wildflowers along the trails and along Yellowstone prong, the main creek that flows through Graveyard Fields.

spring wildflowers

If not everyone in your family or group is as thrilled with wildflowers as you are, Graveyard Fields also offers stunning views, miles of hiking trails, and two easy to access waterfalls, Upper and Lower Falls.

>> Learn more about Graveyard Fields using our Graveyard Fields Guide.

Pink Beds – Pisgah National Forest

Mountain Laurel
Pink Mountain Laurel

Pink Beds, in Pisgah National Forest, is a 5-mile loop hike, just off Highway 276 in North Carolina. Pink Beds is unique in that it’s a high elevation mountain “bog,” where the key feature is the water. The Pink Beds wildflower trails have several unique and very rare wildflowers.

The name is a little misleading, as it was initially named for the large amount of Mountain Laurel and rhododendron that grows here. Today, Pink Beds really isn’t all that pink. The exception being the rare Swamp Pink (also called Helonias) that grows here.

The hike itself is relatively flat, and much of it is on the wooden decking to keep you above the water and bog. You’ll find ample wildflowers in the spring along this wildflower trail.

Kephart Prong Trail – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Kepart Prong Mountain Laurel

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Kephart Prong Trail is a gorgeous creek side trail full of flowers trees and wildflowers. The trail is out and back, and 4.2 miles round trip. Along the way, you’ll pass through the old Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, and at the end reach Kephart Shelter.

A wide variety of wildflowers and flowering trees grow alongside the trail, and the combination of flowing water and flowers makes for a beautiful and excellent hike.

Big Creek Trail – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Spring Big Creek

If we had to pick just one place in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to visit, virtually any time of the year, it would be Big Creek. Big Creek has it all: gorgeous creeks, waterfalls, beautiful hiking trails, a picnic area, and camping.

Big Creek is also full of wildflowers, and the majority of them are directly trailside along Big Creek Trail up to Midnight Hole and Mouse Creek Falls. Particularly prevalent is trillium, and we have seen all the Trillium colors.

Rhododendrun
Rhododendrun

Big Creek Trail is an out and back trail that allows you to adjust the distance to your ability. You’ll find wildflowers, and trillium within a few hundred feet of the trailhead in the spring.

>> Check out our guides more information on Big Creek and Big Creek Trail.

Thompson Wildlife Management Area Loop – Linden, Virginia

Spring Trillium

The 6.3 mile and easy loop trail at G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area, near Linden Virginia, is a lovely hike, especially for wildflower lovers. The trail and areas are in Virginia’s Native Plan Society register, and you’ll find the largest populations of large flower Trillium in the United States.

The peak time for wildflowers here is between April and early June.

>> To get more information on the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area, go here.

Roan Highlands, North Carolina

Roan Highlands
Roan Highlands by Ken Lane

The Grassy Roan Highlands covers three separate peaks and is one of the most beautiful and scenic hikes you can take in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Trust us, you’ll be singing the Sound of Music while doing this hike!

The Appalachian Trail will be your main trail here and does it ever deliver.  The AT crosses over the top of Round Bald, Jane Bald, Grassy Ridge Bald, providing outstanding views nearly the entire distance.

The grassy balds are full of wildflowers in the spring and summer. You’ll also find Rhododendron and numerous azaleas as well, including the popular flame azaleas.

>> Learn more about this amazing hike, here.

Oconaluftee River Trail – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Oconaluftee River Trail Wildflowers
Wildflowers along the Oconaluftee River Trail – Photo by stevbach1

The Oconaluftee River Trail, located immediately next to the Oconaluftee Visitors Center near Cherokee NC, is a really nice, and easy trail that is wonderful for viewing wildflowers. This trail is also one of two that allows dogs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so Fido will be happy too!

The trail is 3 miles, but out and back, so easily adjusted to fit your needs.   You may or may not know this, but the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has more wildflower species than any other National Park in the United States.

Primetime for spring wildflowers on this trail is March – June, with most visible in mid-April, including Trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit and many many others. Wildflowers are visible all along the trailside as you take a leisurely stroll alongside the Oconalufteee River.

>> For more information on this trail, see the Oconaluftee River Trail Guide on the National Park website.

Deep Creek – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Deep Creek Wildflowers

Deep Creek, in Bryson City, is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Deep Creek area of the park is incredibly popular in the summer because of its very nice campground, but in particular because of being popular for tubing.

Wildflowers begin on the trail side almost immediately.   Flowers you’ll find include All varieties of Trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit, foamflower, crested dwarf iris, Solomon’s seal, galax, beardtongue, cinquefoil, bloodroot, and more!  As the trail descends upwards in Elevation, you’ll see Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron, and Flame Azalea as well.

The Deep Creek Loop Trail makes for a wonderful hike, where you’ll see three waterfalls and tons of wildflowers.

Flat Laurel Creek Loop in the Pisgah National Forest, NC

Flat Laurel Creek
Photo by The Wandering Viewfinder

Flat Laurel Creek Trail is a moderate 2.5-mile loop trail that begins at the end of Black Balsam Rd, off the Parkway.  The trail is full of many wildflowers from spring to late summer, especially in the gorgeous meadow area approaching Sam’s Knob.

The trail includes many popular wildflowers, commonly found in the area, but also several less common wildflowers like bush honeysuckle, hairy coreopsis, Carolina phlox, fly-poison, hairy beardtongue, sweet pepperbush, turtleheads, green-head coneflower, bee balm, Saint John’s Wort, roan goldenrod, white heart-leaved aster, skunk goldenrod, Grass-of-Parnassus, stiff gentian, and blue American aster.

If you’re up to it, take the trail up to the top of Sam’s Knob for amazing 6,000-foot elevation views.

>> For more information on this hike, see the Forest Service trail guide.

Flat Creek Trail – Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Flat Creek Trail

Flat Creek Trail is a bit of a hidden gem and located just outside of Maggie Valley NC on the “quiet side” of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hike is 5.2 miles round trip, but if you bring two cars, you can cut that in half, by driving back to the starting point.

The trail is full of small water features and wildflowers. During the late spring and summer months, the trail looks like a magical fantasy land in many spots, with lush green vegetation, Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel, and green moss everywhere.

Preacher-In-A-Pulpit
Jack-In-A-Pulpit

>> Read more about Flat Creek Trail in our full trail guide

Twin Falls Hike – Pisgah National Forest

Twin Falls Hike
Avery Creek Falls

A less popular wildflower hike, in Pisgah National Forest is the hike 4.5-mile round trip to Twin Falls. On this hike, you’ll see three different waterfalls, and numerous specifies of wildflowers along the way.  The trail is easy to moderate, and mostly creekside.

Wildflowers growing in this area include foamflower, jack-in-a-pulpit, trillium, blue-violet, dwarf crested iris, hooked buttercup, ragwort, toothwort, white violet, primrose, and many more.

>> See our Guide to Avery Creek Falls and Twin Falls for more information on this hike.

The Pocket Loop Trail – LaFayette, Georgia

Virginia Bluebell
Virginia Bluebell

This 1.4-mile loop trail has not only wildflowers galore, especially in the early spring, but a waterfall as well. “The Pocket” is considered by wildflower experts to be one of the finest areas in Georgia for early spring wildflowers.

In fact, there are so many wildflowers along this trail, there are boardwalks along most of the trial to protect the many wildflowers. This is definitely a trail that should be on all wildflower enthusiasts lists.

Wildflowers include Harbinger-of-Spring, Wild Hydrangea, Cutleaf Toothwort, Wood Poppy, Virginia Bluebell, Star Chickweed and many more.

>> For more information on this beautiful trail, see the USWildflowers guide.

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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