A Day with the Azaleas at Andrews Bald – A Photo Essay

Andrews Bald is the highest bald in the Smokies, standing just under 6,000 feet. Every year in the month of June, the flame azalea and rhododendron show arrives for all those willing to hike a couple miles to see. You start at Clingmans Dome and take the Forney Ridge Trail to reach Andrews Bald. Here is a complete trail report that describes the hike.

In addition to the heath flowerings at Andrews and an abundance of blackberries and raspberries later in the season, Andrews Bald is also known for one of the mysterious disappearances within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

16-year-old Trenny Gibson went on a field trip Oct. 8, 1976, to the Smokies Park with a group of about 35 classmates from Bearden High School. A bus dropped them off that Friday afternoon at Clingmans Dome, one of the most visited spots in the Smokies. The students were to hike down from Clingmans on the Forney Ridge Trail about 1.8 miles to Andrews Bald and then come back. Not that long really. But there were some steep dropoffs on the side. Reports indicate Trenny was with a couple friends who stopped to rest along the trail. She went on. And then she disappeared completely. She has never been found.

Below is a terrain track of the hike from Clingmans Dome to Andrews Bald and back.


Relive ‘Andrews Bald, Great Smoky Mountains’


The azalea display at Andrews Bald may not be quite as colorful as all the hybrids at Gregory Bald overlooking Cades Cove, but it is a lot easier to get to. Still, there are a variety of shades of brilliant orange that will dazzle your eyes and nostrils. Enjoy the photos!



This post was created by Jeff Clark. Please feel free to use the sharing icons below, or add your thoughts to the comments. Pack it in, pack it out. Preserve the past. Respect other hikers. Let nature prevail. Leave no trace.

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