Hiking the Turkey Pen Trail

Tom HarringtonOur Town Outdoors

Tom Harrington hiked three miles on the Turkey Pen Trail on Monday, June 10, 2024. The trail starts from Laurel Creek Road (the road to Cades Cove) on the Tennessee side and deadends into the School House Gap Trail. The entire trail is a 9.4-mile loop and takes about four hours to cover, according to the GSMNP website. One reviewer noted eight water crossings and “moderate ups and downs.” Tom went three miles up and back.

Rosebay Rhododendron

  • Basil Bee Balm – Some – Some at peak bloom – some beyond peak bloom – first mile up trail.
  • Daisy Fleabane – Few – Well past peak bloom – almost gone.
  • Flame Azalea – Few – At peak bloom – approximately 8/10-mile up the trail on the right.
  • Goats Beard – Few – Well past peak bloom – about gone except for one.
  • Heart Leaf Hedge Nettle – Few – Just starting to bloom.
  • Horse Nettle – Few – Just past peak bloom – about two miles up the trail on the right.
  • Pipsissewa – Few – Past peak bloom but still nice (first mile).
  • Rosebay Rhododendron – Few – Just starting to bloom.
  • Star Grass – Few – At peak bloom (colorful).
  • White Clover – Few – Past peak bloom.
  • Wild Geranium – (1) – At peak bloom – unusual for this time of year – about 2/10-mile out trail on left).
  • Wild Hydrangea – Many + – Mostly at peak bloom (nice).
  • Wood Nettle – Few – Just starting to bloom.

Horse Nettle

Notes: This trail had a number of large blow-downs from the storm a few months ago that the trail crew did another outstanding job of removing from the trail. File photos (not made today).

Tom Harrington is a regular hiker who reports on wildflowers in the Smokies.


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