Brevard in Bloom 
 Five Fabulous Ways to Check Out the Local Flora

There’s little more wondrous than a walk in the wild – wildflowers, that is.  And this time of year is downright magical along the trails and by the waterfalls surrounding Brevard.  Around almost every bend in Transylvania County, you’ll catch a burst of vibrant green and a splash of color. Spring is finally here, and Brevard is in bloom.  As the season stretches out with longer days, you’ll find plenty of places to admire the area’s unique and glorious flora on the trail and even in town.  Here are a few spots you won’t want to miss:
1. The Art Loeb Trail, Pisgah National Forest: An easy out and back two-mile walk, this trail in April and May boasts a wonderland of wildflowers, including Trillium, Bloodroot, Toothwort, Mayapple, Trout Lily, Little Brown Jug, Foamflower, Rhododendron, Laurel, and wide variety of violets. For those willing to walk a little further, the Art Loeb Trail connects with the Estatoe Trail, which is known for its high rock walls covered with an extraordinary array of mosses and lichens. The most wildflower-rich section of the trail begins about 0.2 miles from the parking lot and continues to the junction with the Estatoe River Trail.
How to get there: From the entrance of Pisgah National Forest, drive one mile on US 276. Turn left towards the Davidson River Campground and take an immediate left into the Art Loeb Trailhead parking lot. Park here and follow the signs to the Art Loeb Trail at the far end of the parking area.

2. Cat Gap Loop, Pisgah National Forest: A moderate, winding 2.5-mile trail, Cat Gap Loop crosses several rustic wooden footbridges over streams by the Davidson River. You can spot a vivid assortment of spring wildflowers along the path, including Wild Geranium, Trillium Grandiflorum, and Thymeleaf Bluets. Peek under the plant leaves to see the flowers of Mayapple, Catesby’s Trillium and Yellow Fairybells. Numerous large Carolina Silverbell trees drop their flowers along the trail, as well. Once summer hits, hikers may spy the bright red fruit of Hearts-a-Bustin’ and Jack-in-the-Pulpit along with large clusters of white to pink flowers of the Great or Rosebay Rhododendron.  The most abundant wildflowers are along the Davidson River trail from the beginning of Cat Gap Loop to the trail to John Rock, which is about 1.4 miles. Those interested in a more intense hike can continue another three miles on Cat Gap Loop as it ascends up and around John Rock.

How to get there: From the entrance of Pisgah National Forest, drive five miles on US 276. Turn left on 475, and drive 1.4 miles to the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and the Bobby M. Setzer State Fish Hatchery.  Park here and follow the signs to Cat Gap Loop at the east end of the parking area.
3. Twin Falls Trail, Pisgah National Forest: This beautiful, moderate 6.5-mile loop trail is a waterfall and wildflower adventure. Spring brings Jack-in-the-Pulpits, Mayapples, Trout Lilies and many more. Flower enthusiasts may be particularly taken with the Vasey’s Trillium near the waterfall. 

How to get there: Take US 276 into Pisgah Forest. At 2.5 miles, turn right on Forest Service Road 477 (gravel). Drive 2.6 miles and park in a small parking area just past the Pisgah Forest Riding Stables.

4. Rainbow Falls Trail, Gorges State Park: A moderate 3.5-mile out and back hike that culminates at some of the area’s most magnificent and iconic waterfalls, Rainbow Falls Trail is also a fantastic place to check out some rare and beautiful flowers, including Catesby’s Trilliums, Fairy Wands and Solomon’s Seals. Hikers may also appreciate the many mosses and lichens along the way. 

How to get there: From the entrance of Gorges State Park, proceed by car to the Grassy Ridge Trailhead.

5. Downtown Brevard: Though neither terrain nor flora could be accurately described as “wild,” the sidewalks of downtown Brevard are always a picturesque place for a little window or other shopping, an al fresco bite to eat, and some artful animal spotting along downtown’s wildlife-based sculpture walk. This season, a number of downtown Brevard’s shops and businesses have put a new spin on local color with specially designed street planters brimming with lovely fresh flowers and plants to enhance your downtown experience.

For information on our flora and more fabulous trails, click here.

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Read the previous Field Notes here

Brought to you by Transylvania County Tourism

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