28 Mar 2017

Take a walk on the wildflower side

Last spring, during a long weekend in the most visited National Park in the U.S., the Great Smoky Mountains, I took a trail touted as the best wildflower display in the park. My day along the easy Porter’s Creek Trail allowed for plenty of time to bend down and get face to face with beauties such as trillium, Solomon’s seal, Bloodroot, Hepatica, Crested Dwarf Iris, Wild Geranium and many, many more. It was the spring break I needed.

So this year, I’ve decided to try to find some wildflower walks a little closer to home in the Carolinas and hit as many as I can before the summer sun shines.

I uncovered that one of the largest displays of Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies can be found in Landsford Canal State Park in Catawba, South Carolina. This lovely flowing plant has adapted to its harsh environment and offers one of the greatest natural shows on the east coast. During their peak bloom, from about mid-May to mid-June, these plants cover the river in a blanket of white. The trails are easy and short, just right for a stroll on a spring afternoon.

It also sounds like Raven’s Rock State Park in the Triangle area would be worth a look, since its website says “one of the best reasons to visit Raven Rock is the exceptional beauty of its wildflowers.” We’re promised early spring patches of Dutchman’s breeches, bloodroot, saxifrage and trailing arbutus and paths lined with Solomon’s seal and bellwort.

Throughout the spring months, the Eno River Association, also in the Triangle area, offers guided spring wildflower hike series. Pick a date or a favorite wildflower to seek, grab a camera and you’re on your way. Might be a good school field trip destination as well! Check with the organizers.

Convenient to the Charlotte area and the Triad, South Mountains State Park has a spring display of Jack-in-the-pulpit, lady slipper and foamflower, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Looks like the Jacobs Fork trail is the best bet for viewing.

Station Cove Falls in Upstate South Carolina offers a double whammy—waterfalls and wildflowers—in an easy half-hour walk. In the spring and summer, you should be able to see countless wildflowers in bloom along the trail including trillium, mayapple, pink lady’s slipper orchids, bloodroot and redbud. Evidently the base of the falls makes a nice place for a picnic. Hmmm. Romantic day date, maybe?

Haygood Mill trail sounds like another great Upstate option. It’s an historic site three miles north of Pickens with a gristmill and 50 acres of nature. In April, along the nature trail running by a creek, you can see Catesby’s Trillium, Bloodroot, Mayapple, Sweetshrub and others.

Before you set out, be prepared for sudden changes in weather that spring can bring, and be aware of any flash flood situations when walking close to streams and rivers. Take bug repellent and drinking water, because natural water is a host of things that, well, let’s just say, if you drink it, you may not be happy with the outcome.

Just get outside and enjoy, leaving the plants in their natural setting, because digging them up to take home could get you in trouble, and they likely wouldn’t live anyway. Leave them where they are, and take only pictures. Then leave some of those pics (with photo credits) in the comment section below and we may post them on our Instagram, Facebook or Twitter pages.

And if you want to go on a wildflower walk, go now! We’ve had an early spring in the Carolinas and the spring ephemerals (another word for wildflowers—who knew?!) season is short and intense. Happy spring and happy wildflower hunting!


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