Spring wildflower hikes are one of my favorite ways to kick off the Spring camping season. Right after the snow melts and just before summer begins, you’ll find the perfect season for hiking: spring. The weather is mild, the crowds are minimal, and best of all—there are wildflowers everywhere. Depending on where you are in the country, “spring” (and its wildflowers) can arrive at dramatically different times. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 12 spring wildflower hikes you can take as early as February or as late as July. (And if you’re new to hiking, check out our beginner’s guide to hiking for tips!)
- 1 1. Tennessee: Cove Hardwood Nature Trail
- 2 2. North Carolina: Roan Mountain
- 3 3. Washington: Crawford Oaks Trail
- 4 4. Arizona: Rim Trail
- 5 5. California: Estero-Glenbrook-Muddy Hollow Road Loop
- 6 6. Florida: Anhinga Trail
- 7 7. Georgia: Jacks River Trail
- 8 8. Montana: Munson Creek Trail
- 9 9. Minnesota: Oberg Mountain Trail
- 10 10. Colorado: Brush Creek Trail
- 11 11. Virginia: Roaring Run Loop Trail
- 12 12. Ohio: Buckeye Trail
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1. Tennessee: Cove Hardwood Nature Trail
Sometimes you don’t need to hike very far to experience a spectacular trail. This self-guided interpretive trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just under a mile long but gives you access to some of the prettiest spring flowers in the area. If you go in April, expect to see mountain laurel, flame azaleas, and rhododendron all in full bloom as you hike through a beautiful (and hilly) hardwood forest. The national park also hosts an annual event in April called the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage with guided hikes and exhibits.
Where: Gatlinburg, Tennessee (Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
Mileage: 0.9 mile loop
2. North Carolina: Roan Mountain
Hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail and see some incredible spring flowers on this North Carolina hike. Roan Mountain is a ridge that’s known for its annual rhododendron bloom. These massive magenta flowers typically bloom in mid-June, just in time for the long-running Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival. You can catch the Appalachian Trail near Carver’s Gap and hike as long (or as short) as you want.
Where: Carver’s Gap, North Carolina
3. Washington: Crawford Oaks Trail
The Crawford Oaks Trail is a multi-use trail in Washington’s Columbia Hills State Park. It’s a 4-mile hillside hike that takes you through open meadows and along 8 Mile Creek. (Other trails in the park offer views of Mount Hood and Mount Adams.) Access to the trailhead usually opens in mid-May when you can expect to see springtime blooms such as lupine and balsamroot.
Where: Columbia Hills State Park, Washington
Mileage: 4 miles round-trip
4. Arizona: Rim Trail
Although not all hiking trails at Grand Canyon National Park are open year-round, the South Rim’s trails are. Spring is the perfect time of year for a canyon hike at this popular park. Plan your Spring wildflower hikes in May and there will be fewer crowds and cooler temps than you’ll find in the summer. The Rim Trail is designated as an easy hike—most of it is paved and fairly level. The trail runs for 13 miles so you can plan a short hike (and just put in a couple miles) or make a day of it.
Where: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Mileage: 13 miles one way
5. California: Estero-Glenbrook-Muddy Hollow Road Loop
This trail within the Point Reyes National Seashore is beautiful no matter when you hike it, but spring is the best time to see wildflowers. (Keep in mind that in places like California, spring can begin as early as February. You can often see wildflowers blooming somewhere in the national seashore from February through August.) This 7-mile loop offers views of the coast and will take you through areas of coastal scrub and grasslands.
Where: Point Reyes National Seashore, California
Mileage: 7.4 miles
6. Florida: Anhinga Trail
The Anhinga Trail is the most popular hiking trail in Everglades National Park and for good reason. A walk down this trail is a relatively easy way to get a look at some of the park’s amazing wildlife. This flat trail goes through sawgrass marsh and includes an observation deck where you can look for alligators, herons, cormorants, egrets, turtles, and anhingas (a type of water bird), along with spring flora. Head here in March before Florida’s hot and humid summer weather sets in.
Where: Everglades National Park, Florida
Mileage: 0.8 miles round-trip
7. Georgia: Jacks River Trail
If you’re looking for a spring hike that’s challenging, consider a day hike along Jacks River Trail in Georgia’s Cohutta Wilderness. (For an even bigger challenge, you can hike the entire 16.2 mile trail.) No matter the distance, your hike will take you through a valley filled with waterfalls, rugged hillsides, and green forests. There are multiple river crossings and the trail isn’t always clearly marked so bring a daypack of supplies and always let someone know where you’ll be.
Where: Cohutta Wilderness, Georgia
Mileage: 16.2 miles (9.3 miles round-trip if you do the suggested day hike)
8. Montana: Munson Creek Trail
This Montana trail is described as the perfect “shoulder season” hike (in other words, spring). Plan to hike this trail in mid to late May once the snow has finally melted. If you do, you’ll be sure to see plenty of wildflowers as you trek through an old-growth forest and follow a creek. Some of the blooms you’ll likely see along the way are Calypso orchids and glacier lilies.
Where: Plains, Montana
Mileage: 6 miles round-trip
9. Minnesota: Oberg Mountain Trail
Spring comes late in the north country so if you want to see wildflowers, wait until early June to hike the Oberg Mountain Trail. This 2-mile trail winds through the Superior National Forest, offering Lake Superior views from the top of Oberg Mountain. In June, expect to see marsh marigolds, trillium, wood anemone, and northern white violets.
Where: Tofte, Minnesota
Mileage: 2 miles round-trip
10. Colorado: Brush Creek Trail
As the self-styled “Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” Crested Butte has an abundance of trails that will take you to beautiful blooms. The Brush Creek Trail is as good Spring wildflower hikes option for beginners or flatlanders who are adjusting to the altitude. Just 10 minutes outside of town, this 4.29-mile trail travels through open meadows where you can see fields of Aspen sunflowers. Keep in mind that in the mountains, wildflowers don’t typically bloom until June. (Which is why Crested Butte waits until July to hold its annual Wildflower Festival.)
Where: Crested Butte, Colorado
Mileage: 4.29 miles round-trip
11. Virginia: Roaring Run Loop Trail
This easy loop will lead you to scenic Roaring Run Falls as you cross footbridges and explore the surrounding forest. In the spring, you can expect to see pink lady’s slippers and violets along the trail. There’s also an historic marker explaining the 19th-century iron furnace you’ll see on the trail.
Where: Eagle Rock, Virginia (Roaring Run Recreation Area)
Mileage: 1.5 miles round-trip
12. Ohio: Buckeye Trail
In scenic Hocking Hills State Park, a section of the 51-mile Buckeye Trail offers incredible spring wildflower viewing. The stretch of forest between Old Man’s Cave and Ash Cave is the perfect place to spot violets, pink lady’s slipper, and wild blue phlox.
Where: Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio
Mileage: Approximately 5 miles one way