By Leif Palmer
Posted on April 20, 2022
One of the most popular and long-running special events in the Smokies is returning to Gatlinburg on April 26. The 72nd Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage runs through April 30 and takes place at various sites, primarily within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Since 1951, this annual event has featured professionally guided walks, exhibits and other learning opportunities to explore the region's rich natural and cultural resources. It's always been about bringing people together through a common interest in nature and using that as a springboard to spread curiosity, knowledge and an appreciation of biology, history, conservation, land management and history.
In recent years, some 900 “posy pilgrims” have traveled to Gatlinburg and the national park annually, hailing from more than 35 states and multiple countries. What draws them is an immense array of programs that are as diverse as nature itself. Subjects include fungi, ferns, wildflowers, trees and shrubs, medicinal plants, insects, reptiles, birds, bats, bears and more. There are also talks and activities related to art, photography and national park history.
Specific program titles include Birding on School House Gap Trail, Fungi: Lichen Hikin' on the Spruce-Fir Nature Trail, Yoga Class at Walker Sisters Cabin, Photography of Flowers Motorcade, Elkmont: Then And Now and Owl Prowl At Mynatt Park.
Most of the outings take place at various locations within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including the Townsend Wye, Elkmont Campground and the Alum Cave Trailhead. Many of the events within the park call for participants to meet at Sugarlands Visitor Center and caravan to the final destination. In some cases, the destination itself will be the meeting point. Other events are scheduled to take place at locations in or near Gatlinburg, including Mynatt Park, Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts and Twin Creeks Pavilion off Cherokee Orchard Road near downtown.
Visit the event website at www.wildflowerpilgrimage.org to find out how to register for programs.
If you do participate in this year's Pilgrimage, remember that we offer plenty of parking in Gatlinburg, particularly in the downtown area. That will come in really hand if you're interested in accessing some of the locations that are within the city itself. Simply park in the lot that's closest to your destination and walk from there. And when you're done with Pilgrimage activities for the day, you'll still have a place to leave your vehicle while you visit the attractions, shops and restaurants of downtown Gatlinburg.
About Leif Palmer
Leif Palmer loves residing in Gatlinburg. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.