On April 2oth, we took a hike through one of the popular Spring wildflower destinations in the Smokies. A drizzly weekday & therefore not too busy, only encountered a handful of people.
There were many different flowers to enjoy, but the stars of the area were certainly the huge patches of blue phlox covering the greening landscape.
Miterwort, Bishop's Cap
Eastern Red Columbine
Stunning carpet of phlox
What's this? A stinkweed amongst the flowers?! Bah! A dainty rosebud am I.
One of several caves in the area. Normally entry is allowed (with a permit only) but currently all entry is forbidden... & Big Brother is watching...
....due to the presence of White Nose Syndrome, which is unfortunately killing bats in huge, huge numbers.
There are multiple manways winding through the area. In past visits we'd followed several of them and I'd wondered where the others led. This time I'd done some research and printed an old topo map which was helpful. We were all over the place exploring, it was great.
Still, there are other old paths yet to be explored among the heavily traveled ones.
A small waterfall plunges into a deep, slippery cavern. Once again, entirely no cave entry at the moment, on a normal basis entry by permit only.
We normally leave via the steep slope next to the falls, but today we exited on an old route to create a longer hike.
This little patch of stunning common blue violets near Schoolhouse Gap was an incredible shade of purple.
First sighting of the season! Crested dwarf iris blooming along the upper portion of the main trail.
Back in the parking lot, saw this growing in a large patch of horse poop.... looks like wild greens, maybe red veined sorrel? I don't know, but I could've eaten a pretty big salad at that point ;-) Off to find lunch.