Hunting Wilflowers on the Cucumber Gap Loop Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

See entire article at Granny’s Little Apples

Last weekend my brother, Craig, and I were on a mission as we drove up to the Smokies and camped in the Elkmont campground on the Gatlinburg side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Our mission: to photograph early spring flora, fauna, and/or landscapes for a ribbon-awarding photography contest that is part of the park’s 2012 Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage to be judged in late April.

But first we had to set up camp, and what a cozy little “gettin’ outta the city” hideaway it was (great fire Craig got started with damp kindling and twigs)!  As we couldn’t do much in the way of hiking that late afternoon we decided to take a peek at the trail we were going to hike the next day, the trail a ranger told us was currently boasting about 25 different plant species…the Cucumber Gap Loop.

Cucumber Gap is joined by the Little River Trail and Jake’s Creek Trail forming a 5.6 mile loop of easy to moderate difficulty (I happened to find it much more on the moderate side!).  The next morning, after a rolling, rumbling thunderstorm, we set off with my newly purchased flower field guide (quite excellent, by the way) in hand  for the Little River entrance to the loop where we spent the next several hours finding many of the 25 flower species the ranger from the day before had somewhat promised.

Little River

It was amazing, really, because some of them are very hard to spot.  I have featured many below hoping, not only that you will enjoy them, but also hoping that you might help us choose four for the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage contest.  Hover over a photo for the common name of the flower (one was not in my field guide, and I haven’t yet identified it yet [some kind of wild rose, maybe?], so the image number will do).  Click on an image for a larger view, and many, many thanks to all of you who participate.

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