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Family looks at wildflowers along trail.

Walk on the Wild Side

Adventurers Bask in Wildflower Bonanza

They crouched low to the ground, their noses close to a cluster of yellow flowers growing on a sloped trail.

“It does smell like lemons!” one girl shouted, her cheery voice echoing across the freshly greening woods.

She and a few other children had found yellow trilliums, a lemon-scented sign of sunny, spring days – and a perfect way to kick off a deep-woods adventure at the River Bluff Small Wild Area near Norris, Tennessee.

For some of the adventurers in this group, it wasn’t just any Saturday morning – it was the last Saturday of spring break.

They celebrated by venturing out with family members to TVA’s 39th annual Wildflower Walk, which takes visitors along TVA trails that burst with colorful blooms in late March and early April.

On this walk, expert guide Larry Pounds, a retired TVA botanist, taught guests how to identify a host of blooming wildflowers along the River Bluff Trail, including trilliums, pennywort, yellow violets and wild ginger.

The guided annual Wildflower Walks encourage children and adults to explore the outdoors and learn about the region’s native plants.

TVA Biodiversity Program coordinator Adam Dattilo led a group – including ZooCrew participants – that same day on the same trail. With its rich soil and ample moisture from the nearby Clinch River, the River Bluff Small Wild Area has a unique microclimate that’s ideal for wildflowers.

And that means it’s tailor-made for Wildflower Walks.

“These walks help people to enjoy the beauty of the area in an educational way,” Ember Anderson, TVA watershed representative, said. “We love to help people enjoy the phenomenal wildflowers and educate them on the history of the area and the wildflowers.”

Most importantly, these hikes give people a new ecological perspective that will drive future conservation efforts.

“That’s the deeper value to this work,” Dattilo said.

Learning about wildflowers isn’t just a fun party trick – it can prove useful when spending time in nature. The visitors learn about native flowers and dangerous plants.

“I think it’s important because we walk by these flowers all the time,” Kim Whitten, a participant from Cincinnati, Ohio, said. “We don’t know what they are. It’s kind of cool to learn about how they can help medicinally, which ones to stay away from and which ones are good for you.”

Cheryl Gutridge and Sheena Beal, who live near each other in the Powell, Tennessee, area, have walked their neighborhood together nearly every day for three decades. They decided to try the Wildflower Walk this year to experience something new.

“It sounded so beautiful,” Gutridge said. “And the flowers – I wanted to learn more about those.”

They gained plenty of new information about wildflowers while also enjoying great conversation with fellow adventurers.

“I loved being outside and learning from our guide,” Beal said.

Photo Gallery

Ranger leads hikers along the trail.

Photographing wildflowers

Participants wait to begin wildflower walk.

Man looks at wildflower through magnifying lens.

Ranger leading wildflower walk along trail.

Hike leader shares information on wildflowers.

Child looks through binoculars.

Wildflowers found along trail.

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Learn more about opportunities for outdoor adventure at the TVA recreation page.

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