Fallen rhododendron petals line a trail on Grassy Ridge Bald, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
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A path lain with petals
Pisgah National Forest, in western North Carolina, is primarily a hardwood forest boasting 200,000 hectares of mountainous peaks and cascading waterfalls that attract hikers, anglers, mountain bikers, and more. But from mid-May to mid-June, the crowds flock here to hike trails that lead to incredible views of native Catawba rhododendrons in full blossom.
The trail pictured here leads to Grassy Ridge Bald and to the ‘rhodies.’ Grassy Ridge Bald is one of several treeless, grassy ridges found in Pisgah’s Roan Mountains, which straddle the Tennessee and North Carolina border. The area boasts not just Catawba rhododendrons, but also huge swaths of orange flame azaleas and wildflowers. If you’re lucky, you may even spot the rare Gray’s Lily, which was first discovered on Roan Mountain.