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mole Jun 16, 2011 9:12 PM

Rhododendron Season at Roan Mountain
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Roan Mountain is right on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. There's a lovely State Park about halfway up the mountain, but most of the high country is National Forest. It's a great place for a hike at any time of year, but all my family always looks forward to Rhododendron season - mid June.

So last Saturday we planned a family hike from Carver's Gap out to Grassy Ridge. It was a bright sunny day - great for hiking, almost too bright for good photographs. At first there was still a bit of mist and fog in the meadows...

mole Jun 16, 2011 9:14 PM

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Roan is rich in amazing plant diversity, and rich in mountain views. These ferns were still wet with the heavy dew, soon to be evaporated by the abundant mt. sun!

mole Jun 16, 2011 9:16 PM

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Complex high-elevation cloud patterns soon gave way to the power of the rising sun...

mole Jun 16, 2011 9:18 PM

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And we enjoyed great views of the wave upon wave of mountains & ridges...

mole Jun 16, 2011 9:22 PM

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Flame Azaleas in varied shades of yellow, orange and red were at peak bloom, especially around the Round Bald area.

mole Jun 16, 2011 9:24 PM

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Tiger Swallowtails were enjoying the Azalea nectar.

mole Jun 16, 2011 9:26 PM

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There are many rare plants at the highlands of the Roan. One favorite is Gray's Lily - endemic to the southern Appalachian highlands. Gray's Lily usually blooms later than the azaleas and rhodos. Most were just budding last weekend, but we did find a few plants already in bloom.

mole Jun 16, 2011 9:32 PM

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And then there are the Rhododendrons...
Roan is famous for very abundant Catawba Rhododendrons. In fact, this coming weekend (June 18-19) is the 54th annual Rhododendron Festival!
Last year was a rather sparse year for the rhodo blooms - even the prettiest shrubs need to rest sometimes... So we were hoping for a good display this year. And we were not disappointed!

mole Jun 16, 2011 9:37 PM

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As expected, the best display - most abundant and colorful - was at Grassy Ridge. This side path off the main trail (Appalachian Trail) was full of bloom (and full of people enjoying them too!)

mole Jun 16, 2011 9:42 PM

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Hike back down was full of family fun, but not of photography...

Hope you enjoyed this mountain hike, and that you will get a chance to experience Roan Mountain for yourself sometime soon!

Thanks for any comments, critique and suggestions!

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