5 of the Best Hikes in the Smokies For Seeing Wildflowers in the Spring

porters creek trail in the smoky mountains
February 6, 2020

When spring arrives in the Smoky Mountains, so do a ton of wildflowers! From violets to mountain laurel, you’ll find all kinds of beautiful flowers in the spring. If you want to explore the mountains and see these flowers, you should go on a hike! Check out these 5 best hikes in the Smokies for seeing wildflowers in the spring:

1. Gregory Ridge Trail

gregory bald in the smoky mountains

Gregory Ridge Trail will take you to Gregory Bald, a meadow on a mountaintop where you will find some of the most incredible flaming azaleas in the entire national park. The hike is 11.6 miles roundtrip, and it is considered difficult. The azaleas come in light pink, hot pink, orange, yellow, and red. Not only will you see these beautiful flowers, you’ll also have great views of the Smoky Mountains! You’ll probably also see other wildflowers as you walk through the woods to get to the bald.

2. Schoolhouse Gap Trail

If you want to do one of the best hikes in the Smokies for a variety of wildflowers, you should hike the Schoolhouse Gap Trail. Its roundtrip length is 4.7 miles and is considered moderate. Some of the wildflowers you might see are beaked violets, golden aster, and Catesby’s trillium. You’ll also see quite a bit of rhododendron and mountain laurel. In addition to the wildflowers, you’ll see creeks, bridges, and plenty of old forest growth.

3. Middle Prong Trail

golden aster in the smoky mountains

At a roundtrip length of 7.9 miles, Middle Prong Trail is another moderate hiking trail that is great for spring wildflowers. You could see violets, crested dwarf iris, toothwort and trilliums. Not only is this a great wildflower hike, this is one of the best hikes in the Smokies for waterfalls! You’ll pass Lower Lynn Camp Falls, which stands at 35 feet tall. Past this waterfall is another named Lynn Camp Falls. As you keep walking, you’ll see remains of homesteads. At around the 4 mile marker, you’ll find an unmarked side trail that will lead you to Indian Flats Falls. This is a great trail for wildflowers and waterfalls!

4. Porters Creek Trail

For even more wildflowers, you should go on Porters Creek Trail. The beginning of the trail is full of yellow trillium in the spring. At the first split on the trail, you can see an old cabin if you go towards the right. If you go right, you’ll be making your way towards Fern Branch Falls. As you continue along the trail, you’ll see white fringed phacelia, violets, white trilliums, and many other flowers. About 2 miles in, you’ll see Fern Branch Falls.

5. Rich Mountain Loop

butterfly weed in the smoky mountains

If you’re going to be in Cades Cove and you want to see wildflowers, you should hike the Rich Mountain Loop. This trail is 8.5 miles roundtrip and considered moderate. The trailhead is about 50 yards from the start of the Loop on the right. You’ll walk past the John Oliver Cabin, which is neat to explore to see what life was like in Cades Cove. Rich Mountain Loop is one of the best hikes in the Smokies when it comes to wildflowers because it has a huge variety. You’ll see mountain laurel, flame azalea, purple phacelia, violets, rattlesnake hawkweed, yellow ragwort, butterfly weed, and more. The trail is a loop, making it easy to navigate.

These are just some of the best hikes in the Smokies for seeing spring wildflowers. Wondering what other hiking trails you should check out? Look at these hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains for more ideas!