|Mammoth Cave Formations|
|Foamflower, Delphinium and Phlox|
Even without the world's longest cave system, the above-ground land encompassing Mammoth Cave National Park would merit its National Park status due simply to its extraordinary density – and diversity – of plant life. While the acknowledged "showcase of vegetation" within the Park Service, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, has approximately 1,500 flowering species in its more than 500,000 acres, Mammoth Cave National Park supports more than 1,300 species in only one-tenth of that acreage.
|Accessible overlook ramp- Echo Spring|
Caves and sinkholes are really only accessible to healthy people, able to climb. Folks in wheelchairs, crutches, or just with balance issues, don't dare go to many places at Mammoth Cave. Now, however, the parks people have been working to improve the Handicapped Accessible trails. Echo Spring Trail, for example, has been paved and large size porta-potties installed. Overlooks on the trail have been re-constructed to add clear panels, so people in wheelchairs can take pictures without trying to peer between parts of the fence. The trail has been completed to make a full loop, but the signs are a bit in arrears, so don't pay much attention to them. If you visit at the right times, you can find wild flowers and migrating birds in this valley as well. Since I have lost my balance somewhere, we walked the Heritrage Trail, near the Visitor Center, and down the steep hill to the Green River Ferry and Echo Spring Trail. So far so good for a couple of older folks.
Then we got ambitious and drove to the Cedar Sink Trail, where we heard the wild flowers were terrific. Well, they were right, and the flowers were terrific, but so were the stairs. We managed to hike down the gravel and wood steps, but when we arrived at the metal stars going to the actual sink hole, I said NO, quite firmly. If we walked down there without falling (doubtful) we still have to make it back to the car again. Since it was late April instead of earlier in the season, we saw a variety of different flowers along the trail. With no construction along the trail, Garlic Mustard was not found!
|Foam Flower, May Apple, Delphinium|
|Fire Pink, Stonecrop and Ragwort|
|Phlox and Jacob's Ladder|