Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

A couple weeks ago I discussed Chief Logan State Park’s Sue Browning Wildflower Walk in southern West Virginia. If one day is not long enough, immerse yourself in everything wild for five days at the granddaddy of the Blue Ridge region’s pilgrimages, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage and Greener Living Expo. Take an undemanding wildflower walk next to the Sugarlands Visitor Center or bring the kids along for a terrestrial insect walk. Want to find something bigger? Go in search of black bears and wild hogs near Little River. Feeling hardy? Make the 2,300-foot climb to Thomas Divide to pass through the remnants of chestnut and hemlock tress and find the rich diversity of a cove hardwood forest. Not strenuous enough? Join Doris Gove, author of Exploring the Appalachian Trail: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, on a 14 mile backcountry wildflower hike through rugged Smokies terrain.

A part of the pilgrimage this year is the Greener Living Expo, with discussions about organic gardening and composting, blending natural teas, how to landscape with native plants, and, as the program guide says, learning to “eat your weedies.”

Every evening has feature presentations that in past pilgrimages have included Native American dance, theatrical performances, historic reenactments, and audio/visual presentations by noted authors and naturalists.

This year’s pilgrimage will be April 21-25, 2010; more information may be found here.

A REMINDER: Don’t forget my invitation to submit your favorite hikes. Send the information to and provide enough details so that others will know where it is and what makes it special. You will be entered into a drawing to receive a copy of my newest book, “Images of America: Along Virginia’s Appalachian Trail.” I’ve received only a few responses, so the odds are good that you may be the winner.

Places to Go, Things to See: