GSMNP: Thomas Divide & Kanati Fork Trails

Posted By on April 30, 2022

6.68 miles; 453 ft. total elevation gain; Cherokee, NC

I’ve been a member of the North Carolina Native Plant Society for a while now, as well as an active volunteer (I’m on the newsletter committee), so when I got the email that announced the Spring Hike Weekend, I was all over it like white on rice.

This was an overnight affair, so to speak, which included a potluck dinner, a lecture and book signing by CoreyPine Shane of his book Southeast Medicinal Plants, a plant auction, and a choice of several hikes for each day, Saturday and Sunday. I chose this one because it was a nice long stroll (wildflower walks are by their nature quite leisurely) and one of the alternatives was to go in the opposite direction which was MUCH more strenuous. Also, I have never been in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park before, and wanted to see a bit of it.

Thomas Divide

This was a really cool hike, in that we started out at around 5200 feet elevation (thanks to a car shuttle mostly) and hiked back down around 2500 feet, so it was like walking forwards in time, as plants at different elevations bloom at different times. We’d pass a plant way up at the top that was barely budding up, and by the time we got back to our cars, the same plant was in full bloom. Again, imma just let the flowers speak for themselves:

Ramps! (Allium tricoccum)

Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens)

Red Trillium (Trillium erectum)

Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana)

Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum)

Our guide was Kathy Matthews, a Professor of Biology at Western Carolina University. She was amazing with her exhaustive knowledge of the plants on our walk. This hike was a blast!

You can find out more about the North Carolina Native Plant Society at their website. Get the skinny on the Thomas Divide Trail from this Hiking Project website. And as always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.


One Response to “GSMNP: Thomas Divide & Kanati Fork Trails”

  1. […] guided hike I signed up for as part of the NC Wild Plant Society’s Spring Hiking Weekend (see my earlier post about this event in case you missed it). It was considerably less arduous than yesterday’s hike, but simply fascinating, […]

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