Ten of the Best Trails for Wildflower Hikes

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.

Columbia GorgeUpper 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.


Crested ButteWash­ing­ton 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 ValleyAnte­lope 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 gen­er­al­ly 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-trav­el­ing 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.


Mount RainierBench & 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 wild­flow­ers 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 any time of the year, it is these spring moments that real­ly set the scene for this pic­turesque State Park.


Mt TimpanogosThe 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 are 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 shares 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.