Smoky Mountain Wildflowers and Waterfalls

Visited the Smoky Mountain area in the southeast United States for the first time.  In addition to being rich in waterfalls, I expected to find some native wildflowers that were new to me compared to the northeastern US.  I have added nearly a dozen new wildflowers to my photo galleries as a result of this outing.

The first stop was with friends who took us to  Bald River State Park in southeastern Tennessee.  Rather loved this single drop and the plunge pool half way down the drop.

Bald River Falls

After a pleasant visit with our hosts, we moved on to the Smoky Mountain National Park that spans Tennessee and North Carolina.  Arriving in a heavy rain, the drive along the Little River still excited me for the number of waterfalls and cascades.  This is just one of many nice places on the Little River that I found in the  next three days.

Little River Cascade

The park is more than waterfalls.  Arguably the most popular is Cades Cove which was an early mountain settlement. They still operate the original grist mill and sell the corn meal to visitors.

The Mill at Cades Cove

Upon arriving in the early morning at Cades Cove, I wished I had taken by long lens to photograph the Wild Turkey gobblers as they displayed.  Maybe the next time. There were good opportunities for Whitetail Deer too. This guy has started what will likely be a massive set of antlers.

Whitetail Buck Deer

But, one of my prime objectives was to find some of the native wildflowers that I don’t find in New York. Top on the list was Catesby’s Trillium.  The visitor center told me to find Joe Strickland because “Joe knows”.  He did. Within a few miles of Cades Cove on Lead Cove Trail, we found it.

Catesby’s Trillium

It is differentiated from Trillium grandiflorum by the bloom hanging below the leaves and facing downward.   I also found it in a pink variety. On the same trail, we found another new plant, Little Brown Jugs.  It is similar to Wild Ginger.

Little Brown Jugs

Waterfalls were usually our early  morning subjects, especially if it were to become sunny later. Along the Little River is one large drop called the Sinks.  The inclined plates of colorful rock present many interesting compositions such as this:

the Sinks

Another delightful wildflower discovery was the Showy Orchis.   It is different from the Showy Orchid, and much more diminutive.  It was often found along moist hillsides.

Another widespread flower that is not native to the northeast, but widespread in the Smoky Mountains is the sessile Trillium luteum.
Trillium luteum

In addition to adding over a half dozen new wildflowers to my photo gallery, we also came upon numerous attractive settings for familiar plants such as this white violet growing in the hollow of a fallen log.

White Violet on log

There is much more to share about this trip, and I have divided that into two different postings that I invite you to visit in my Blogger pages.  The first covers the six new wildflowers that I have added to my wildflower galleries with added guidance on where I found them.   A second presents   the best waterfalls and cascades that  I found in the Smoky Mountains. They are at my Blogger pages at:

The trip to the Smoky Mountains proved to be a fruitful outing and one I sincerely hope to repeat, both in spring and late autumn.  I welcome any questions about specific locations and resources that I discovered planning this trip. I will add that one of the best locations I found was outside the park at the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest just southeast of the park. I could spend three days there and also have some nice waterfalls nearby as a diversion.

Hope you enjoy this posting and visit my principle Blogger site from more creative nature photographs.

Paul Schmitt

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