Sunday, May 2, 2010

White Oak Sinks - God's Flower Garden

In the summer of 2009 I saw a photo by Jeffrey Stoner of what looked like a magical place full of wildflowers.  He told me it was White Oak Sinks in the Smokies and gave me directions to this land of wildflowers. I decided that was a definitely a place to put on my list of place to hike and photograph and June and I made the hike on April 30 this year.

The Sinks is a small valley near the top of a ridge.  You can hike to it via a couple different trails, but the sinks area itself does not have any officially maintained trails.  We took the 3.6 mile Turkey Pen Gap trail to get there.  There were plenty of wildflowers along the way, including the usual Dwarf Crested Iris, Flame Azaleas, Trillium and Phlox.

When we reached the White Oak Sinks we hadn't gone far before we found two Yellow Lady Slippers growing off the side trail.   What a fantastic find!  We had never seen the yellow variety before and were very excited. 

That was just the beginning.  We saw a forest floor carpeted with Phlox with different varieties of Trillium, Shooting Stars, Columbine, May Apples, Wild Ginger, Little Brown Jugs, and Dog Hobble.   In addition to the flowers, there's also a bat cave, some old artifacts from earlier residents, and a waterfall that drops into Rainbow Cave.

This place is truly amazing with the number and varieties of wildflowers.  Since they grow there naturally I've decided to call it God's Flower Garden. 

After hiking down we took a drive through Cades Cove to check out the newly paved road.  We saw one bear family in a tree and a beautiful sunset to finish up our day.

I posted 19 photos in my gallery.  They are available in the White Oak Sinks Album in the Landscape Gallery.

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