National Parks,  Nature

Photographing Wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a terrific spot to photograph wildflowers in the spring.  I’ve hiked several trails in the Smoky Mountains and there were many wildflowers on every trail.

Common Blue Violet

Common Blue Violet – Grotto Falls

I brought my macro lens on morning hikes to photograph waterfalls and took macro shots of wildflowers during the hike down to the trailhead.  The Smokies can get really crowded so I usually hiked the trail to photograph waterfalls at sunrise.  On the way down the trail heading back to the car, I photographed wildflowers while others were beginning the climb up to the waterfalls.

Smoky Mountain Trails for Wildflowers

Here are some of the trails that I hiked where I found wildflowers:

  • Grotto Falls (Trillium Gap Trail)
  • Laurel Falls
  • Cades Cove Nature Trail
  • Middle Prong Trail
  • Oconaluftee River Trail
Star Chickweed

Star Chickweed – Grotto Falls

April and early May are the peak time to photograph wildflowers.  Since many of the trails are shaded by trees, wildlflowers can be photographed during the day without blowing out the colors of the flowers.


Beetleweed – Laurel Falls

Most of these photos of wildflowers were taken hand held.  I had a tripod with me but the trails are fairly narrow and there was a steady stream of people heading up the trail around 9am.


Mayapple – Oconaluftee River Trail

Tips for Handholding Your Camera for Wildflower Macro Photography

If you are going to hand hold your camera to photograph wildflowers on these shady trails, here are a couple tips.

  • Raise your ISO.  Not too much to add a lot of noise but somewhere between ISO 400 and 640 should help to increase your shutter speed.
  • Use a lens or camera with image stabilization
  • Use a continuous fast shutter mode. The fast frame rate can help get a shot in focus.
  • Zoom in on your LCD or electronic viewfinder to ensure you have a sharp shot before moving on.
Soloman's Seal

Soloman’s Seal – Grotto Falls

This blog has some of the wildflowers that I photographed on the trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  I’ve also included the trails where I found them.

Roundleaf Ragwort

Roundleaf Ragwort – Oconaluftee River Trail


Foamflower – Grotto Falls

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel – Laurel Falls

Wild Stonecrop

Wild Stonecrop – Oconaluftee River Trail

Highland Doghobble

Highland Doghobble – Grotto Falls

Written by Martin Belan

Related Posts
7 Reasons Why You Need to Get Out Early for Nature Photography
Hike the Ocanaluftee River Trail for Wildflower Photography
Photographing Laurel Falls in the Smoky Mountains

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