Arc of Appalachia 2019 Wildflower Pilgrimage

April 12 – 14, 2019 Friday Evening – Sunday Afternoon


Weekend Theme: Signature Animals of the Great Eastern Forest 

    Researcher Cheryl Mollohan: Allegheny Wood Rats & Bob Cats;
    Researcher Kelly Williams: Hooded Warblers;
    Researcher Denis Case & Rita Apanius: Timber Rattlesnakes


OPTIONAL: register for a Special Photography Workshop with Tom Croce  

Both events: concurrent, shared meals, held at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary

$145/person for the Pilgrimage; $190/person for Photography Workshop
Lodging is not provided, please check our
lodging page for lodging in the area.

pil·grim·age (n): A long journey or search, especially one driven by an exalted purpose.
Our destination? Spring!  Our quest? The miracle of earth’s resurgence and resurrection.

The ephemeral display of spring woodland flowers – all blooming at once – is as close to heaven on earth as any nature spectacle we can ever experience. The Appalachian foothills of the Arc of Appalachia region have one of the richest wildflower displays to be found in Eastern United States, partially enabled by the wealth of moisture and minerals in its underlying limestone bedrock. This karst country of springs, rock arches, seeps and sinkholes produces an unusual abundance and density of wildflowers. This year we are holding the Pilgrimage a bit earlier than usual to avoid Easter, which falls on April 21 in 2019. We expect to be catching the earliest of the flower showcase on April 12-14, and, if it’s a normal year for temperatures, the very beginning of  the large flowered trilliums and associated floral showcases, as well as some lingering trout lilies and hepatica. Because we are earlier than usual on the calendar, this will also be a perfect year to visit the Ohio River preserves: Ohio River Bluffs, Rock Run, and Whipple State Nature Preserves. The Ohio River karst region is usually 7 days ahead of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary and we are often a bit late to catch it at its peak..

Let us Give you Sanctuary

The Pilgrimage is hosted at the Arc’s largest preserve, the 2500-acre Highlands Nature Sanctuary protecting the sheer-walled canyon of the Rocky Fork Gorge. All meals and evening presentations take place at the Sanctuary’s visitor center, the Appalachian Forest Museum. Limited lodging is available at the Sanctuary. A wide variety of private inns and cabins are offered in the region and are linked on the lodging page above.

Hikes will be held at botanical hotspots in our region, featuring both Arc preserves and other private and state-owned natural areas. In most field trips, participants drive their own cars to the trailheads, and the majority of them are within ten miles of the Appalachian Forest Museum. 

Schedule Summary for the Wildflower Pilgrimage:


Friday Evening Program: Bobcats with Cheryl Mollohan & “The Secret life of Hooded Warblers” with Kelly Williams at the Paxton Theater in Bainbridge.

Saturday Field Trips:
Choose from a wide array of guided field trips to view southern Ohio’s most beautiful wildflower displays, led by some of Ohio’s finest naturalists and botanists. Delicious breakfasts are served off the grill at the Appalachian Forest Museum. During breakfast a lunch buffet is provided from which you can pack your own lunch.  

Saturday Evening Presentation: Alleghany Woodrats with Cheryl Mollohan & Timber Rattlesnakes with Denis Case & Rita Apanius at the Paxton Theater in Bainbridge.

Sunday Field Trips:
Second day of guided field trips to view southern Ohio’s most beautiful wildflower displays. Includes breakfast and packed lunch.

Photo courtesy Tom Croce
Photo By 2018 Photography Course Participant
Photo By 2018 Photography Course Participant