It took outdoor writer Jim Parham eight years to produce his latest guidebook, Wildflower Walks & Hikes: North Carolina Mountains. Perhaps that’s because the region covers a lot of territory: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, DuPont State Forest, Mount Mitchell, Nantahala and Pisgah Forests, the Amphibolite Mountains, Joyce Kilmer, the Appalachian Trail, and more.
The new guide recommends 59 routes to viewing the native blooming plants of the region, from common to rare, from spring through fall. Walks and hikes range from 0.3 mile to 13 miles, with an average length of about 2.5 miles. Each entry includes complete driving and hiking directions and maps, along with details about the route and wildflowers most likely to be seen there. Also included are the botanical gardens at Asheville and Highlands, along with several designated nature trails. More than 300 wildflower photos in the back of the book help with identification on the trail.
“My goal was to create more than a wildflower field guide with hiking trails,” says Parham. “I wanted to help hikers understand forest communities and why certain flowers thrive in particular ‘neighborhoods’ in the woods.” That’s why his new book also includes detailed descriptions of 13 different forest types found in the North Carolina Mountains, and how to recognize them. “Once you get to know the forest and its many faces in different places and at different elevations, it’s almost impossible not to find wildflowers.”
More than 2,600 flowering plants are native to the North Carolina mountains. Trailing arbutus, spring ephemerals, and service berry begin to appear at the end of March in this region. Which is why Parham’s book launch is just in time for the first blooms. Can’t make the talk at City Lights Bookstore? You can catch him at two other western North Carolina events where he will also be speaking and signing books:
Diamond Brand Outdoors in Asheville on Saturday, April 7 at 10 am
Marianna Black Library in Bryson City on Thursday, April 12 at 6:30 pm