Rhododendron thicket

Rosebay rhododendron grows from Canada south to Georgia and Alabama, but reaches its peak in the mountains and especially along streams in the southern Appalachians. Although flowering has finished for the season in most parts of the North Carolina mountains, the cool shade and endless water of this creek has extended the blossoming time. They can grow here as small trees, up to 40 feet high and a foot around, in huge tangled groves that are sometimes known as rhododendron hells or slicks. This is an exaggeration but if you get off the trails here and try hiking through a thick stand of them you spend a fair bit of time half crawling through the tangled dense branches and move at about the pace of a lively snail.