Walking along the peaceful Hunter Creek Road in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, in the Hoosier National Forest, you catch a glimpse of beautiful periwinkle flowers swaying in the warm spring air. A short hike uphill and you are immersed in the full bloom of wild hyacinth, along with other delightful wildflowers such as twinleaf and trout lily.
While getting caught up in the beauty and serenity of this colorful scene, you may observe a white-tailed deer, raccoon, fox squirrel, red-shouldered hawk or scarlet tanager. This enchanted corner of the Hoosier National Forest is its only congressionally designated wilderness. It boasts plentiful spring flora thanks to its proximity to a geologic feature known as the Mount Carmel Fault. And, this is just one of 82 Wildflower Viewing Areas in the Forest Service’s Eastern Region
Beyond their aesthetic beauty, wildflowers support entire ecosystems for butterflies, birds and small animals by providing a source of seeds, nectar and pollen for their food supply and life support system. Wildflowers and native plants also help conserve water, reduce mowing costs, protect the soil from erosion and provide habitat for wildlife.
Many wildflowers are in danger from habitat loss caused by plants that are not indigenous to an area. These invasive plants or non-native plants grow aggressively and compete for resources, often causing great harm and even destruction to native plants.
You can help protect native wildflowers by volunteering for an invasive plant removal project on a national forest or grassland in your area.
In celebration of National Wildflower Week, May 5-11, 2014, we invite you to visit these lovely gems. A field of wildflowers is one of the most beautiful scenes you can experience in nature!
If you are traveling through the east, use these peak wildflower viewing times to plan your trip:
· March – mid-June Greer Spring Trail (Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri): See Missouri’s second largest spring while viewing blooming wildflowers such as Jacob’s ladder, Virginia waterleaf, hepatica, and yellow trout lily.
· April – early May Wildcat Hollow Trail (Wayne National Forest, Ohio): White diamonds dot the Athens Ranger District’s most popular hiking trail.
· April –early May Prairie Creek Woods (Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Illinois): Woodland wildflowers are in full bloom along the trail, which opens after 1:00 p.m. daily).
· Late May – early June Black River Harbor Area (Ottawa National Forest, Michigan): Catch lovely displays of spring wildflowers, including two-leaf toothworts and trout lily, as well as waterfalls and sandstone rock formations.
· May –July Dolly Sods (Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia): The heath barrens, mountain laurel, and rhododendron blueberries provide a fantastic floral display.
· Late June-early July Longhouse National Scenic Byway-State Route 59 (Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania): Take a scenic drive along State Route 59 to catch the state flower Mt. Laurel in full bloom. Please pull over in a safe spot before stopping to take photos.
· Late June-July Mount Washington (White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire): Rising above all other peaks in the northeast, Mt. Washington is a crown jewel of the forest. The landscape features an amazing array of wildflowers in bloom contrasted against the backdrop of green forests and gray rocks.
· Late June – early August Pennington Bog (Chippewa National Forest, Minnesota): See wildflowers such as round-leaved orchids and showy lady slippers at their peak.
· Late June – August Grand Island National Recreation Area (Hiawatha National Forest Michigan): This area offers a little bit of everything – from forests to shoreline cliffs to beaches to the restored “old farm field,” which features nearly 225,000 native wildflowers.
· July Catwillow Monarch Area (Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin): Be welcomed by fluttering butterflies when common milkweed is in full bloom.
· July – August Chittendon Pollinator Gardens (Huron-Manistee National Forest, Michigan): Explore the area’s 26 species of native grasses and wildflowers.
Get more travel and planning ideas from the Forest Service’s Celebrating Wildflowers site, which includes a searchable wildflower viewing map. We ask that you do not remove vegetation, including wildflowers, from public lands. Almost all wildflowers are fragile and many wilt and perish if disturbed.