It’s been scientifically proven: flowers make us happy. But if you think a fresh bouquet of a dozen roses is a reason to smile, how about rolling meadows of thousands of blooms?
Interest piqued? Check out these wildflower hikes: They’re quite literally walks through fields of happiness.
Gunnison National Forest
Spreading across several towns including Crested Butte, the wildflower capital of Colorado, Gunnison National Forest offers hikes so vibrant you’ll wonder if you’re on the trail or in a dream. Catch the Rustler Gulch Trail during peak season in July and you’ll find yourself waist-deep in a thick carpet of 114 different types of blooms, including the bright blue columbine, Colorado’s state flower. This trail doesn’t have a lot of ups and downs to distract you from basking in the glory of its wildflower abundance, but it does clock in between seven and eight miles, so arrive prepared to spend a few hours in your hiking boots.
Plan your trip right and you’ll catch the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, which honors these gifts from Mother Nature every July with photography and art classes, guided hikes, garden tours, and more.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Wildflowers are eager in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – they’ll peak their heads out as early as February and won’t go until late fall. But the spring season is prime time for laying your eyes on the species that this southern mountain range has to offer: the park even hosts a Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage each year to teach you how to identify the blooms you’ll spot on the trails, from pink turtleheads to black-eyed susans.
A series of easy hikes are available for the adventurer who likes to take the time to stop and smell the trillium. The Deep Creek trail picks up near the Deep Creek Campground just north of Bryson City for a two-mile walk that takes you past two waterfalls and abundant blooms. Or hike the first mile and a half of the Porters Creek trail just east of Gatlinburg for spectacular shows of color in March and April.
Glacier National Park
Even Lewis and Clark took note of how sweet the wildflower scene is at Glacier National Park – Meriwether himself wrote about the park’s wild lilies, used by Native Americans to make baskets and disinfectants, in his journal in 1806.
You can catch sight of these iconic flowers and many others on a moderate seven-mile hike that starts at the Siyeh Bend Trailhead located 2.2 miles east of Logan Pass on Going to The Sun Road. After about a mile on the Siyeh Bend Trail, hikers should turn left onto the Piegan Pass Trail towards Preston Park, a glacially carved valley where plentiful wildflower meadows meet stands of pine trees for a scene straight out of a fairytale. Turn back whenever you’d like but the further you go, the higher you climb, and the more amazing the views become. That’s the kind of payoff we’ll break a sweat for.
When you’re ready to check out these beautiful hikes, KOA will be here to help you plan your journey.