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Backpacker Magazine – May 2008

Trip Finder: Wildflowers

Trek the best spring blooms from the Ozarks to the Olympics with these two, three, and four day treks.

by: Jodi Helmer

Rocky Mountains |Southeast | Pacific Northwest


clingmansdome Clingman's Dome, Photo by Don Geyer

Clingman's Dome, TN
With 1,660 wildflower species, the Smokies are a riot of color in May. On this 28-miler from Clingman's Dome, you'll cover roughly nine miles per day, camping amid fragrant fields in marked sites. Link Goshen Prong, Little Creek, Little River, and Jakes Creek Trails where rhodendrons rule. Then wind back to Clingman's via the Miry Ridge Trail and Buckeye Gap.

rogueriver Jocassee Gorge, Photo by Richard Bernabe

Jocassee Gorge, SC
There are so many waterfalls plunging from the top of Jocasse Gorge (70 minutes from Greenville) that native Cherokee once referred to its cliffs as "The Blue Wall." Cruise its length on the 31-mile Jocassee Gorge Trail, passing cascades and the forlorn-looking Oconee bell, a rare orchid found in just seven counties in SC and GA. See blooms through late April.

Ozark National Forest, AR
The 7.7-mile Lake Wedington Trail slices into the center of the 1.2-million acre Ozarks, the most varied terrain between the Appalachians and the Rockies. Purple toothwort and bright pink spring beauty thrive under the forest canopy, and this out-and-back near Fayetteville is the best way to see them. You'll also see the Twin Knobs, two 568-foot limestone towers. Camp near the Illinois River and head back the next day.

Rocky Mountains | Southeast | Pacific Northwest

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