The special event calendar for Spring is accelerating quickly with items for the Spring season to coincide with the general lifeforce of the Smoky Mountains returning for most of the remainder of the year and one of them is quite possibly the oldest yearly tradition we have on the calendar – the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage.
How long have we looked forward to the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage? Since 1950! Before so much of what created the foundation of our more modern eras and societies existed. That alone makes the connection with the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage incredibly special and unique, but then we have what makes the event to begin with – a large and wide variety of nature-oriented programs that celebrate all the fauna, flora and more of the Smoky Mountains nature system itself with as little commercialism as possible.
If you’re familiar with the Wildlife Wilderness Week in Pigeon Forge, the Wildflower Pilgrimage is very similar in structure. For 4 days between April 23rd to April 27th for 2019, the Pilgrimage will have programs, walks, hikes, lectures and more that get you in the real earth and biology of what makes our mystic mountains tick.
And the 2019 program for the Wildflower event does not skimp on events. Looking at the large print of the program schedule is 55 PDF pages long! The small print is 22 PDF pages long. Folks return to the Wildflower event year after year because it’s practically impossible to do everything there is to do in 7 years worth of it!
Some examples are as follows:
Birding on Cades Cove Loop Road
“Walk with Kevin Burke and Mary Feely to look for and listen to the signs of spring in Cades Cove. Stops will include Sparks and Hyatt Lanes, Burchfield Woods (red-headed Woodpecker) and sewage ponds. Short, easy walk. Bring binoculars and rain gear. DT: 60 min.”
Wildflower and Wildfire Walk at the Chimney Tops
“The November 2016 Chimney Tops 2 Fire originated on the north peak of Chimney Tops, spreading northward into the Sugarlands Valley over the next several days. Follow the trail as it
ascends through an unburned northern hardwood forest with a splendid display of spring wildflowers, ending at an observation platform 1/4-mile from the peaks. Elevation gain 1,400 ft. Strenuous, 3.5 mile walk.”
Aquatic Insect Diversity Walk at Twin Creeks
“Enjoy short walks on different order streams with Park entomologist Becky Nichols. Learn to collect and identify a variety of insects in pristine streams. Short, easy walk. DT: 10 min.”
Fern Walk at Little River above Elkmont
Have you ever seen an adder’s tongue or sang pointer? Come see a variety of the Park’s more common ferns and fern allies. Bring a hand lens. A 2-mile, easy walk. DT: 30 min.
Native People’s Use of Nature’s Garden at Twin Creeks Pavilion
Gather at the cook fire with Native American Karen LaMere (Ho-Chunk), and listen to an oral history that has been passed down through the generations by America’s indigenous people. Taste and discover ingenious uses of native plants. Short, easy walk. DT: 10 min
Photography of Birds at Cades Cove
Smoky Mountain Bird Photographer, Barry Spruce, will instruct the group in finding bird subjects in their natural habitat, teach participants how to have success in approaching these birds, and how use their surroundings for more pleasing compositions. After the field walk, we move to the Spruce Gallery in Townsend for technical guidance on enhancing compositions. Bring your digital camera and binoculars (please, no cell phone or iPad cameras.). DT: 60 min.
Wildflower Hike at Ramsey Cascades Trail – Short version
A 4 to 6-mile round trip (not going all the way to the falls) will allow you to hike among the rich forests of the Ramsey Cascades Trail. You will try to make it at least 1.5-miles in to the large tulip poplars that stand like columns all around the trail. On this trip you’ll see giant trees of old
growth forests and the rich diversity of wildflowers that inhabit soil held on to these steep slopes by large exposed root networks. DT: 30 min.
Yoga Class at Walker Sisters Cabin
Join Yoga instructor Kelly Daniels on a 2-mile journey to the Walker Sisters Cabin on the Metcalf Bottoms Trail to exercise and relax in this serene environment before hiking 2-miles back. Bring an exercise mat or large towel and water. A 4-mile moderate hike. DT: 40 min
Black Bear and Wild Hogs in the Smokies
Walk with David Whitehead, retired Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Manager, as he describes the life history, tracking signs, human impacts, and environmental issues of black bears and wild hogs in the Southern Appalachians and GSMNP. A 2 to 3-mile, easy walk. DT: 30 min.
Going Natural in the Garden at Walker Sisters Cabin
Explore the principles of Mother Nature’s aesthetic design in wild landscapes, and discover ways to incorporate her natural beauty into your garden. Led by Nancy Rennie, a retired landscape designer and horticultural consultant and Margie Hunter, author of Gardening with Native Plants of Tennessee. A 2-mile easy walk. DT: 40 min. http://www.wildflowerpilgrimage.org/
We hope you get the chance to come out and see the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage as we will be looking forward to it ourselves. See more on this event at http://www.wildflowerpilgrimage.org/.