Marie McAden



Rhodies come alive in the Upcountry

Posted 6/5/2012 12:21:00 PM

It’s Rhodie time in the Upcountry. The harbingers of fun times are starting to bloom in the higher elevations of the mountains.

I found Rhododendron blossoms this weekend while hiking in Table Rock State Park. The sweet-smelling mountain shrub was showing off its blooms around the 2,000-foot range.

According to Caesars Head State Park interpretive ranger Tim Lee, the large-leaf variety starts bursting forth around mid-May at lower elevations like Jones Gap State Park and the base of Table Rock; late June at higher elevations like the top of Table Rock and Caesars Head State Park.

“The general rule is that for every thousand feet of elevation, they’ll bloom a week later,” Lee said.

I also spotted Mountain Laurel blossoms along the Table Rock trail. The white bowl-shaped flowers really stand out against the background of their dark green, leathery leaves. Although it’s getting a little late in the season for Mountain Laurel in the lower elevations, you’ll still find the shrub putting out large clusters of flowers in the 2,000-to 3,000-foot high range.

Adding to the botanical spectacle were white Hydrangeas. They were just starting to open up along the trail.

If you need an excuse to make it up to the mountains for a weekend of hiking, this flowering trifecta is all the reason you need to get on the road.