Five forest types dominate the Great Smoky Mountains. (The focus will be on the Oak/Hickory and Oak/Pine types.) Together these forests contain more than 130 species of trees, and 4,000 other plant species. More than 230 species of bird species, 65 mammal species, and many amphibians and crayfish live in the park.
Albright Grove is a good location to see an old growth cove hardwood forest. This type of forest is one of the most biologically diverse outside of the tropics. Albright Grove is in the Northeast part of the park.
"Heath Balds" in the park are dominated by the family Ericaceae (heaths). Plants in this family that may be found there include Catawba Rhododendron, Mountain Laurel, Sand Myrtle, Blueberries, Huckleberries, Azaleas and Wintergreen. To see a heath bald, continue hiking up the trail that takes you to Albright Grove to Maddron Bald, or drive up the Newfound Gap Road and take the Alum Cave Trail towards Mt. LeConte.
"Grassy Balds" are treeless areas at the tops of some mountains in the park. An example is Spence Field, near Rockytop. Take the trail starting from the east side of Cades Cove near the campground.
To see the oak/pine forest which grows in drier areas of the park, continue on south from Spence Field on Eagle Creek Trail.
Club Mosses (Lycopodiophyta) are common on the floors of the Spruce/Fir forests.
There are around 2000 known species of Fungi in the park.
The neighboring Tennessee River has the highest diversity of freshwater fishes in the United States.
Be sure to check out the nature trail starting near the Cades Cove visitor center. Abrams Creek, which runs through Cades Cove, has a growing population of river otters. Head from Cades Cove towards Abrams Falls.