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Wildflower Walks

Looking for beautiful blossoms this spring? You can do no better than the trails that run through the Small Wild Areas on TVA public lands. Here are six wildflower walks well worth your while.

TVA’s Small Wild Areas are just that—pockets of protected natural lands that are home to natural resources such as unique rock formations, animal and plant habitats, scenic views…and wildflowers. Luckily, you can have direct access to spring’s big show via trail. These six treks through Small Wild Areas are certain to delight your inner flower child. Come take a look. (Maps and driving directions are available on our TVA Trails page.)

Cave Mountain Small Wild Area

Located on the south side of Lake Guntersville, Cave Mountain Small Wild area contains an eponymous cave that was mined for saltpeter (a base ingredient of gun powder) during the Civil War. The 1.4-mile trail passes by the cave, and also through a flooded forest of tupelo gum trees. Wildflowers wind all along the path; look for Jack-in-the-pulpit, turtlehead, cutleaf toothwort, crow poison, columbine, hepatica and others.

Trail rating: Moderate
Coordinates: 34.4215868848, -86.402978874

Lady’s Bluff Small Wild Area

Gnarled old cedars, limestone outcroppings and a stellar view of the Busseltown Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge across the Kentucky Reservoir make this a must-see wintertime destination for birders. In the spring, the 2.7-mile round-trip trail transforms into a wildflower wonderland. Commonly spotted are spring beauty, trillium, rue anemone, wild ginger, shooting star and purple and yellow violets.

Trail rating: Easy-to-moderate
Coordinates: 35.68823251390, -88.0184097085

Little Cedar Mountain Small Wild Area

For lovers of trees and rocks, the 4-mile loop trail at Little Cedar Mountain Small Wild Area, located on Nickajack Reservoir, is a dreamscape. The 320 acres are forested with cedar, redbuds and post, red and blackjack oaks, and feature boulder fields, rock walls and limestone outcroppings. And, oh yes, there are wildflowers, too: twinleaf, trillium, hairy gromwell, toothwort, trout lily, purple phacelia, phlox, larkspur, John Beck’s leafcup, cylindrica blazing star, rock cress and others.

Trail rating: Moderate
Coordinates: 35.01995226760, -85.58118750260

Old First Quarters Small Wild Area

There is lots to see at Old First Quarters Small Wild Area on the Muscle Shoals Reservation, including woodlands birds, rock steps and check dams built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (the CCC)—a fellow member, along with TVA, of FDR’s “alphabet soup” of public works projects.

Wildflower-wise, look for Dutchman’s breeches, trillium, mayapple, false and true rue anemone, toothwort, columbine, purple phacelia and wild geranium along the easy 1-mile trail. Also, consider visiting the nearby Whitey Hall Memorial Garden, which features native wildflowers, shrubs and trees of all varieties and includes labels on many of the plant species so visitors can learn plant identification as they walk the trail.

Trail rating: Easy
Coordinates: 34.78248458610, -87.65657903440

River Bluff Small Wild Area

Located on Norris Dam Reservation, the River Bluff Small Wild Area is 125 acres of rich, mixed mesophytic forest on steep north-facing slopes. Its 3.5-mile loop trail—designated by the U.S. National Park Service as a National Recreation Trail—provides access to a 40-year-old pine plantation, rich vegetation and steep bluffs overlooking the Clinch River. It also features one of the most spectacular arrays of wildflowers available on TVA public land. Expect to see trout lily, celandine poppy, trillium, rue anemone, columbine, twinleaf, Dutchman’s breeches, purple phacelia, phlox, sharp-lobed hepatica, little brown jug and many others.

Trail rating: Moderately difficult
Coordinates: 36.21382671240, -84.08668410590

Whites Creek Small Wild Area

Located on one of the least-developed reaches of the Watts Bar Reservation, Whites Creek Small Wild Area features epic scenery, with lush vegetation, deep ravines, secluded bays and steep bluffs. The 3-mile loop trail begins on the shoreline and continues along ridgetops overlooking the water, providing excellent views. The mixed hardwood and pine forest is dotted with wildflowers, including bloodroot, spring beauty, rue anemone and trillium.

Trail rating: Moderate
Coordinates: 35.75783086810, -84.76420387490