To experience the paint strokes of nature in their prime, pass by wildflowers during your favorite hikes. If you trek any of these trails during the right time of year, you’ll see an abundance of beauty you’ll never forget. To catch some wildflower displays at the right time, it’s worth checking out these 10 best trails for wildflower hikes.
Upper Section of the Cape Horn Trail—Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
A great hike any time of the year, the upper section of the Cape Horn trail on the Columbia River Gorge really blossoms to life each spring. Featuring sweeping views of the Columbia Gorge and a close look at the cascading Cape Horn Falls, this rugged hike is also conveniently located only about 45 minutes away from Portland. Hikers need to be aware that the lower portion of the Cape Horn loop trail is closed from February until July to protect nesting Peregrine Falcons, but the upper loop is always open and is a great place to find some wildflowers come spring.
Bluebell Island Trail on the Clinch River—Centreville, Virginia
The sweet spot to explore the Bluebell Trail in Bull Run Regional Park of Northern Virginia is mid-April, with over 25 varieties of wildflowers blooming along the path. Not surprisingly, the most common wildflower you’ll see on this very-moderate walking path is the Perennial Bluebell Flower, which adds a splash of color to the Virginian countryside. To see more wildflowers in action, the surrounding Bull Run Regional Park offers 1,500 more acres to explore, including the 19.7-mile, natural-surface Bull Run Occoquan Trail.
Washington Gulch Trail #403—Crested Butte, Colorado
Sometimes referred to as “the last great ski town in Colorado”, Crested Butte and the adjoining Crested Butte Mountain Resort does have quite the reputation for being a world-class skiing destination. Ask anyone who has stuck around past the Colorado winter though, and they’ll agree that there is still a lot to do and see when the snow melts away. A prime example of that can be found with the 7.8-mile, out and back Washington Gulch Trail (also referred to as Trail 403). Featuring an awe-inspiring combination of wildflowers and full panoramas of the surrounding Rocky Mountains, it’s wildflower hikes these that makes everyone and their cousins want to move to Colorado.
Deep Creek Loop Trail—Deep Creek Recreation Area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Beardtongue, Bluets, and Blue-Eyed Grass; these are just some of the many wildflowers you can expect to see throughout the spring when you visit the celebrated Deep Creek area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With an abundance of waterfalls and streams to navigate through and around, the eye-catching colors on the ground won’t be the only thing vying for your attention. The Deep Creek Loop Trail is roughly 4 miles long, though it is intersected with other fascinating trails that sprawl throughout the area, ensuring that you get to choose your own kind of adventure when looking for wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve—Lancaster, California
Located in Southern California in the Mojave Desert, the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve fosters an incredible bloom of the California state flower, the California Poppy. With a bloom that general ranges from mid-February to late May, visitors have plenty of time to check out these seasonal surprises of the desert landscape, and the state-protected Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve has 8 miles of moderate trails to immerse yourself in all the color and aromas of this stunning spring hike.
Sutherland Trail—Catalina State Park, Arizona
Situated squarely in the Santa Catalina Mountains, the 5,500 acres of Arizona backcountry of Catalina State Park attracts visitors year-round to this high-desert landscape. Whether it’s hiking, biking or birdwatching, many of the local Tucsonans and further-travelling explorers will agree that the best time to explore Catalina State Park is between March and April, when the rugged foothills and canyon depths come alive with wildflower color. With the drastic background of desert landscapes contrasting nicely with the color of a new season, the 8.6-mile, one-way Sutherland Trail is perhaps one of the best places in the country to appreciate wildflowers while you hike.
Bench & Snow Lakes Trail—Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington
Located literally in Paradise, the Bench & Snow Lakes trail can not only give you some of the best wildflower looks you’ll see all summer anywhere else in the nation, but as a backdrop to all the action, the impressive Mount Rainier is also visible most days when the forecast allows it. This 2.5-mile loop is a pretty moderate start to the day, though it can give views that will last you a lifetime, and there are plenty of other trails in the Paradise and surrounding areas of Mount Rainier National Park to explore, proving what many already knew, that Mount Rainier National Park is one of the best places to catch mid-summer wildflowers and year-round adventure.
Niquette Bay State Park Trail—Colchester, Vermont
Located on the shores of Lake Champlain as an indentation of the much larger Malletts Bay, Niquette Bay State Park is a 584-acre facility that is a popular place to explore for the neighboring residents of Burlington, Vermont. Open only during daylight hours with camping not allowed, day hikers at Niquette Bay State Park can find dolomite limestone cliffs, sandy shores and for just a few weeks in late April, an impressive collection of blossoming spring flowers that line the 3.2-mile trail that meanders through the park. While Niquette Bay is beautiful anytime of the year, it is these spring moments that really set the scene for this picturesque State Park.
The Timpooneke Trail—Mount Timpanogos, Utah
Mount Timpanogos stands tall as the second highest summit in the Wasatch Range of Utah, only behind the neighboring Mount Nebo, and the trails and scenery surrounding the top of this rugged mountain is considered a Utah classic. There are two ways to get to the top of Mount Timpanogos, the 8.3-mile Aspen Grove Trail and the 7.5-mile Timpooneke Trail, and while both are fairly demanding one-ways routes to the top, each also share some fantastic wildflower vistas between July and August. With such readily available views of wildflowers pressed against the Wasatch Mountains, you don’t even need to make it to the top of either hike to have a memorable time exploring Mount Timpanogos.
Cottonwood Creek Trails—Custer Gallatin National Forest, Montana
Located in the Bozeman District of Custer Gallatin National Forest, the three different Cottonwood Trails (South, Middle & North) all offer dense forest and meadow landscapes as they meander next to Cottonwood Creek. Much noted as a hike for a hot day thanks to the adjacent cold waters of Cottonwood Creek, the best reason to get on these trails between June and August is the wildflowers that take over the area, presenting a stunning view of alpine excellence. All three trails provide different flora options, and all three trails provide different experiences in terms of hiking difficulty, but check them out in the right season and all three won’t fail to stimulate your springtime senses.