As spring unfolds with summer hot on its heels, the unfolding warmth transforms a harsh frozen trail into a beautiful wildflower trail. The United States’ expansive range of climates and terrain showcases thousands of blooming meadows bursting with color. Each spring this floral show puts the absolute cherry on top of any hike. From long backpacking trips along lupine-lined paths, to short jaunts alongside fields of fireweed, these are seven of the best wildflower trails and spring hikes in the country.
1. Timpanogos Basin via Timpooneke Trail
Drive an hour south from Salt Lake City, Utah to hop on the spectacular Timpanogos Basin via the Timpooneke Trail. At 15 miles, you can tackle this hike in one day or slowly soak up the natural goodness with an overnight backpacking trip. Either way, hikers will be treated to several wildflower sightings in summertime, including brilliant orange-red Indian paintbrush, sulfur buckwheat, white common yarrow and larkspurs in varying hues of purple. You may even share the scenery with a mountain goat or two!
When to Visit: wildflowers are in bloom mid-July through mid-September, though the sweet spot is late-July to early-August.
Insider Tip: if staying the night, consider taking the Timpanogos Basin via Aspen Grove Trial as it offers more reliable water sources.
2. Cone Peak Loop
Venture an hour and half northeast of Eugene to find yourself at Cone Peak Loop, a moderate 6-mile day hike in Oregon’s picturesque Willamette Valley. This wildflower trail gently twists through canopied forests and open meadows that, come June, are filled with an assortment of yellow stonecrop, bell-shaped penstemon, bright purple larkspur and vibrant tiger lilies.
If you have the gusto, climb to the summit of Iron Mountain for phenomenal 360-degree views of Oregon’s classic mountain lineup: Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters. Can’t make it for the flowers? This is also a great area for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing!
When to Visit: wildflowers bloom June-August with peak time being the first half of July.
Insider Tip: for a longer hike, add 1.4 miles to reach Iron Mountain summit. For something shorter, turn around after Cone Peak meadows for a 4.8 mile out-and-back.
3. Tuck and Robin Lake
Within Washington State’s stunning Alpine Lakes Wilderness sits Tuck and Robin Lakes. It’s an epic 16-mile hike worth every thigh-burning step. Reaching Tuck Lake is the easy part, but those willing to put their route-finding skills to the test and continue to Robin Lake will be well-rewarded by this wildflower hike. Once there, backpackers are treated to a scene that looks similar to the nearby Enchantments and beautiful wildflower fields filled to the brim with bright purple lupine and white beargrass.
For even more views, continue past Robin Lake for a day hike to the Granite Mountain Potholes. Along the trail, a bevy of peaks loom on the skyline: Granite Mountain, Mount Rainier, Mount Daniel and Chimney Rock, to name a few. Keep an eye out for marmots, too!
When to Visit: while you can visit earlier in summer, August is the best time to avoid snow and see wildflower meadows.
Insider Tip: with the steepness of the trail, consider bringing a good pair of backcountry hiking poles to make the journey more manageable.
4. Harding Icefield Trail
While Alaska is typically associated with frigid temperatures and endless heaps of snow, it’s summertime thaw results in an abundance of colorful flowers. To witness a stellar combination of mountains, glaciers and wildflowers, journey to the south-central region of the state where the secluded Kenai Fjords National Park beckons explorers.
The Harding Icefield Trail is a tough 8-miler that starts out innocently enough as it meanders through the forest. Eventually this wildflower trail opens up to offer glimpses of the icefield looming like a prize on the horizon. Tall magenta-hued fireweed line the path toward it, providing a striking pop of color against the trail’s earth-tone palette. If you’re lucky, you may even spy a bear snacking on ripe berries!
When to Visit: catch Alaska’s wildflowers mid-June through August. For an adventure in Kenai, plan your trip during August for the best displays of color.
Insider Tip: as with anywhere in Alaska during summer, weather can change quickly – pack layers!
5. Trail 403
For a medium-effort, high-reward hike, look no further than Crested Butte, the Wildflower Capital of Colorado. Trail 403, a day hike tucked in the hills of Gunnison National Forest, offers views at every step—though with each of those steps you may also lose your breath as you’re in high altitude territory. Starting at 10,000 feet above sea level, the trial climbs to over 12,000 feet, so make sure you’re acclimated and take it slow if needed! Hiking at altitude presents unique challenges, make sure you are prepared if you haven’t done it before.
Hikers can choose between a short adventure to the viewpoint or tackle the strenuous Gothic Mountain Summit. No matter the route, this wildflower hike has plenty to ogle at. From bright fireweed and larkspur, to dainty bluebells and yellow mule ears, Trail 403 is an absolute treat.
When to Visit: to witness wildflowers at their peak, visit anytime in July or August.
Insider Tip: stay at Gothic Campground to add in nearby trails, like Washington Gulch and Trail 401.
6. Middle Prong Trail
The Great Smoky Mountains earned its nickname as the Wildflower National Park by boasting more species than any other park in the U.S. Throughout spring and summer, a great profusion of wildflowers emerge and paint a breathtaking scene for hikers.
The Middle Prong Trail, a serene 8-mile hike that follows an old railroad bed, is best in early spring when a concoction of violets, crested dwarf iris, doghobble and trillium start to grace the landscape. Many more wildflowers can be found as hikers wander past babbling streams, a slew of waterfalls and take in surprising relics of history hiding in the forest.
When to Visit: wildflowers vary throughout spring and summer with late-April and early-May being the ideal time to visit.
Insider Tip: Around two miles in, an old Cadillac can be found just off the trial. It was left in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a group that built many trails and roads in the area.
7. Naches Peak Loop
Head to Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park for a short and sweet hike that offers amazing scenery the whole way through. Naches Peak Loop, an easy 3.5-mile trail that intertwines with the Pacific Crest Trail, is a popular hike for very good reasons. The in-your-face views of Rainier paired with sub-alpine meadows bursting with wildflowers will undoubtedly leave you speechless. Plus, the abundance of huckleberries make for a wonderful mid-hike snack (or try something off this spring inspired trail menu!).
When to Visit: wildflowers are in bloom from late-July through August, with early-mid August being the prime time.
Insider Tip: For the best views of Rainier while you hike, do this trail in the clockwise direction. Add in a detour to Dewey Lake to leave the crowds behind and find even more awe-inspiring views.