Mountain Laurel Time in the Smokies

Mountain Laurel Time in the Smokies
Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains  © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel bloom in the Smoky Mountains  © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel bloom in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

It’s that beautiful time of year again when the Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) bloom along the trails and in the woods of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Mountain Laurel are similar to, and often mistaken for, Rhododendron. In the Smokies the Laurel bloom primarily during May, while the Rhododendron come along in June and July.

One of the Featured Photographs at the William Britten Gallery is Path to Serenity, which shows a hillside of Mountain Laurel blooming along the trail to Spruce Flat Falls.

Mountain Laurel bloom in the Smoky Mountains  © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel bloom in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

One of the best displays of Mountain Laurel can be found along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. At the top of the hill there is a parking area to the left. In early to mid-May you can see the thickets of laurel from your car, but to get the full effect, get out and walk in among all the blooms.

I was in that spot photographing, deep in my private reverie with my eyes in the camera viewfinder. Suddenly I heard some snorting and clomping, and looked up to see that a doe had joined me in the laurel thicket. She was unafraid, and stayed close by for 30 minutes or so, even when I moved my tripod from spot to spot.

Deer in  the Mountain Laurel © William Britten use with permission only
Deer in the Mountain Laurel © William Britten use with permission only

Please stop in and visit me to see the complete display of Smoky Mountain Photography at the William Britten Gallery in Gatlinburg, TN.

Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only
Mountain Laurel in the Smoky Mountains © William Britten use with permission only

11 Responses to Mountain Laurel Time in the Smokies

  1. I’m wondering, is first weekend in May too soon to see the Mountain Laurels bloom? I hope to see them this year

  2. Where woul be the best place to see mountain laurel or rhododendron blooming memorial day weekend?

  3. The Rhodos are not in bloom yet. Mt. Laurel … try Laurel Falls Trail or the trail to Spruce Flat Falls. You can get info on Spruce Flat trail here on my blog.

  4. Wow–such beautiful photos! I’m studying Appalachian poetry this term and “Mountain Laurel” keeps popping up everywhere in the poems. I’m not from the area so I was unfamiliar with the plant and had to look it up–what lovely blooms!

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