Hiking the Schoolhouse Gap Trail to Chestnut Tops Trail

dogwood blossoms

It was a gorgeous morning, when we left this past Wednesday, headed for the Schoolhouse Gap trailhead. After dropping our van off at the parking lot for the Chestnut Tops Trail, we got into Kit’s car and finished the lovely drive to our beginning point. With walking sticks in hand we began our journey, occasionally stopping to admire some of the few brave wildflowers to be among the first to bloom. Mostly it was violets, as well as Trilliums that were blooming, with a few Plantain-leaved Pussy’s Toes blossoms here and there. With the recent rainfall, the moss was lush and soft and beckoned to be felt at every possible opportunity. The three of us contentedly plodded along making our way up the winding path, until we found a lovely location for enjoying our picnic lunch. Wes and I enjoyed our usual PBR, or peanut butter and raisin sandwich, complete with dark chocolate for dessert!

rachelle siegrist and kit gentry on chimney tops trail
Kit and I admiring the view
wes and rachelle siegrist on schoolhouse gap trail
Enjoying lunch!

A gentle breeze blew as we sat there eating and enjoying the beautiful view, complete with cloudless blue skies above! By this time we were on the sun drenched, south side of the mountain, meaning it was warmer and this sun-loving girl was in her seventh heaven! Right away I noticed a few more wildflowers blooming, and I began adding to my mental flower list for the day, including numerous Trailing Arbutus, with their intense sweet fragrance making them a delight to stop and smell!


Sweet White Trillium image
Sweet White Trillium above and Trailing Arbutus below
Both photos courtesy of Kit Gentry

Trailing Arbutus image

The afternoon breeze was delightful as we walked along admiring the vistas still viewable with the leafless trees. Along the way, we saw Dry Valley, Laurel Valley, and Townsend as well as the mountain, which our house sits on the side of. Later on, we found ourselves rounding the corner, joining the popular spring trail destination, Chestnut Tops, where we started seeing even more wildflowers blooming. By this time the large white petals of Bloodroot, the teeny-tiny white petals of Great Chickweed, Cut-leaved Toothwort and the delicate Bird’s Foot Violets were also showing off their blossoms.

chestnut tops trail in the smokies
This tree along Chestnut Tops appeared to be “walking” down hill!

rachelle siegrist photographing wildflowers

Reaching the end of the trail, or beginning depending on which direction you are hiking it, hillsides were covered in large-flowered and Yellow Trilliums creating a stunning show! Several delicate Rue-Anemone and Crested Dwarf Irises, and the miniature upside down bowl shaped flowers of the Bishop’s Cap, as well as the occasional bright red blooms on the Fire Pinks, joined in on the colorful show.

rue-anemone image
Rue-Anemone above and Sharp-Lobed Hepatica below, photos courtesy of Kit Gentry

sharp-lobed hepatica

~ Fresh off the easel ~
I finished my miniature painting of our friend Don’s handsome cat Koko, this past week, while Wes continues to paint on his Otter.  You can see both paintings, step-by-step, on our Facebook page.  Starting this week I’ll be posting more often with the new bi-monthly posts on Wednesday highlighting questions that are commonly asked us at shows or other insights into our business!

Miniature_Painting_ Don's_Boy_Rachelle_Siegrist1
Until next time ~ Rachelle


2 thoughts on “Hiking the Schoolhouse Gap Trail to Chestnut Tops Trail

  1. As always, a winner, Rachelle! I have a question from my daughter. She wants to know how you “print” the photos you so graciously include in your thank you notes to those of us lucky enough to own the original!!! Love to you both and HAPPY SPRING! Susan

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thank you! We print the photos using our home printer and photo paper from one of the high-res scans of the painting. One of our photo programs allows us to print the whole image life size or smaller for the cards. We adhere them to the cards with acid-free tape. I’m so glad that you all enjoy them!
      We wish you a happy Easter and spring as well!
      Love and hugs 🙂
      Rachelle and Wes

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