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Bob Stelloh | profile | all galleries >>  plant hunting... >>  balds... >> Gregory Bald... tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gregory Bald...

Gregory Bald, famous for its native azaleas, is located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, south of the Cades Cove loop road. Click here for a map of its general location. See Don Hyatt's in-depth documentary Return to Gregory Bald for more pictures and information about Gregory Bald.

On June 18, 2002 some members of the Vaseyi Chapter of the Azalea Society of America went to Gregory Bald. We had expected to take a fairly strenous 4.5 mile hike with about a 2200' elevation rise. When we were thwarted by a locked gate to the trailhead, we took the Gregory Ridge trail instead. It is a even more strenous 5.5 mile hike, rising quite uniformly about 3000 feet (that's a 10% grade!).

As you will see, the native azaleas on the bald are spectacular, as are the views, and well worth the time and effort to get there. For more information about native deciduous azaleas, including bloom times and where to buy them for your own garden, see the Azalea Society native azaleas web page.
Thwarted! Bob Stelloh, Ed Riley, Charlie Larus discussing the options.

Thwarted! Bob Stelloh, Ed Riley, Charlie Larus discussing the options.

At the trailhead, 10:20 am, 5.5 miles to go.

At the trailhead, 10:20 am, 5.5 miles to go.

Forge Creek, near the beginning of the Gregory Ridge Trail.

Forge Creek, near the beginning of the Gregory Ridge Trail.

Forge Creek

Forge Creek

Trails act either as dams or streams, and this worn-out section to the left was clearly a stream.

Trails act either as dams or streams, and this worn-out section to the left was clearly a stream.

Taking a break: Jim Holmes (back), John Brown, Carolyn Brown, Charlie Larus, Dick Roemer, Ellen Riley (side)

Taking a break: Jim Holmes (back), John Brown, Carolyn Brown, Charlie Larus, Dick Roemer, Ellen Riley (side)

Almost there: 2:00 pm, only 3200' forward and 290' up still to go.

Almost there: 2:00 pm, only 3200' forward and 290' up still to go.

At the entrance to the bald, 2:20 pm: the start of the pay-off -- WOW!

At the entrance to the bald, 2:20 pm: the start of the pay-off -- WOW!

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Note the variety of colors, and the almost uniform size of the plants at around 5' to 6' high.

Note the variety of colors, and the almost uniform size of the plants at around 5' to 6' high.

06180016s.jpg 06180017s.jpg Charlie Larus picking a favorite

Charlie Larus picking a favorite

Carolyn Brown, Jim Holmes

Carolyn Brown, Jim Holmes

Bob Stelloh

Bob Stelloh

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Leaf gall is thought to be more prevalent in situations of high moisture, low light and poor air circulation -- none of those here!

Leaf gall is thought to be more prevalent in situations of high moisture, low light and poor air circulation -- none of those here!

Leaf gall and lichen. Does lichen actively harm azaleas, or does lichen just appear on old weakened plants?

Leaf gall and lichen. Does lichen actively harm azaleas, or does lichen just appear on old weakened plants?

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Azaleas and views, . . .

Azaleas and views, . . .

. . ., more azaleas and views,

. . ., more azaleas and views,

. . . and still more azaleas and views!

. . . and still more azaleas and views!