5 places to find spring in North Carolina


The temperature was in the 50s, the sky a blue we haven’t seen much of this year. I was scanning the ground along the Pump Station Trail, eager for signs of spring. It was the third week of February, late by seasonal norms for the first sign of spring’s first responders: the spring beauty, its five rounded pedals scanning the sky for sun like a satellite dish seeking a signal, and the trout lily, with its delicate fingers of crimson and yellow. Alas, the best I could do was one mottled leaf of a trout lily, barely penetrating the leaf litter. Spring was on the cusp.

And that’s OK, because when spring-like weather finally hits — when temperatures reach the 60s for two or three days straight and the sun quits being coy, we’re in for quite the show.

Ah, but where to catch the show that represents the psychological start of spring? Today, we look at five spots with excellent odds for spotting memorable ephemerals.

1. Eno River State Park, Durham

Pump Station Trail, 1.5 miles

The Eno River Association, the half-century-old non-profit responsible for most of the land in this linear state park, says “Pump Station Trail is known as the best spring wildflower trail in the park.” The reason: a bottomland hardwood forest along the Eno River’s south bank whose rich soil and ample exposure provide the ingredients for a jumpstart on the spring growing season.

Look for carpets of spring beauties and collections of trout lilies, followed by cranefly orchids and a number of other spring ephemerals.

Learn more here.

2. Raven Rock State Park, Lillington

Raven Rock Loop Trail, 2.6 miles

For variety, you can’t beat Raven Rock State Park. Dutchman’s breeches, bloodroot, saxifrage, trailing arbutus, Solomon’s seal, bellwort, spring beauty — there’s a who’s who of spring wildflowers within this 4,684-acre park, which straddles the Cape Fear River where the piedmont grudgingly gives way to the coastal plain.

A variety of options ensures a longer viewing season, beginning in early March and extending well into May. Add the 1.5-mile Little Creek Loop Trail for more viewing opportunity.

Learn more here.





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