CAR HIKING !
A Lazy Botanist's Dream Come True !
- You can cover a large distance in a relatively short period of time
- If you don’t see much of interest where you are it is easy to go somewhere different
- You can carry many items of luxury in your car: cooler, food, drinks, extra clothing, field guides, heavy camera equipment…..
- You get the false sense that you are actually exercising and burning calories
- It allows and encourages you to explore new roads and areas
- You can see a large number of species in one day
|Emily Whiteley, my designated 'Car Hiking' driver!|
|View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mount Mitchell State Park. Notice the blue haze that gives the mountains their name.|
The BRP passes thru a variety of plant communities ranging from low elevation Oak Forests to mid elevation Cove Forests to high elevation Spruce-Fir Forests. By driving from south to north, or from a low elevation to a higher elevation, a botanist can follow the bloom of spring ephemerals for several months. Also, the large range of plant communities allows for a great diversity of plant species. I have posted some samples of flowers I have seen along the BRP.
Wake-robin Trillium - Trillium erectum seen at
Crabtree Falls Campground at MP 339.5.
|Catawba Rhododendron - Rhododendron catawbiense|
commonly seen along the BRP at higher elevations in
June, especially Craggy Gardens at MP 364.6.
|White Campion - Silene latifolia seen in |
June at Licklog Gap Overlook at MP 435.7.
|Flame Azalea - Rhododendron calendulaceum is|
a common sight all along the BRP in late spring.
Turk's Cap Lily - Lilium superbum a
common sight along the BRP in July.
|Pale Touch-me-not - Impatiens pallida commonly |
seen all along the BRP during the summer and early fall.
|A Gentian flower species at |
Wolf Mountain Overlook at MP 424.8.
|Mountain Ash - Sorbus americana berries in |
late fall near Pisgah Inn at MP 408.6.
- Pearson Falls Rd, Saluda, NC (best in early spring)
- Forest Service Road 74 through the Big Ivy area near Barnardsville, N.C.
- Any of the forest service roads in the Wilson Creek area near Morganton, N.C.
- US 441 - Newfound Gap Road from Gatlinburg to Cherokee N.C.
- "Old NC Highway 105 " from Linville Falls to Lake James - you may need a 4-wheel drive vehicle (best in late summer and fall)
I hoped I have inspired you to try car hiking and explore North Carolina’s rich botanical heritage!
1. "America's Favorite Drive." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 23 June 2017. <https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/directions.htm>.