Photographers take in the blooming flame azaleas on Gregory Bald in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo courtesy of www.rhodoland.nl

Let your favorite dad be the king of the hill in a giant way on Father’s Day with hike up to Gregory Bald to see the spectacular display of flame azaleas in bloom that occurs at this time each year.

The beautiful views from this popular Smokies bald are even more stunning when you are surrounded by these shoulder-high blooms. Hikers and wildflower lovers travel from all over the world to see the large patches of fire red, wine red, orange, salmon, yellow, white, pink, and multi-colored azaleas that reach peak bloom around mid-to-late June.
This hike is typically rated difficult because of the 3,000 feet of elevation gain, so be sure to plan ahead and give everyone in your group plenty of time to make the 11.3-mile round trip at a comfortable pace. Also keep in mind that driving to the Gregory Ridge Trailhead through the popular Cade’s Cove loop can take awhile, so be prepared to make sight seeing part of the fun on the drive there and back. Keep an eye out for wildlife!

If you’d like to join a seasoned group of hikers that really know their way around, the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club has a perfectly-timed hike to Gregory Bald that is open to everyone. All you need to do is pack your water, food, and layers, and be prepared for a challenging yet incredibly rewarding trek!

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Written by Carol Evans
Get Out and Play info@legacyparks.org