Park Botanist to Lead Wildflower & Mushroom Hikes at The Swag

Janet Rock and Steve Kemp

Janet Rock has recently retired after 28 years as the official staff botanist for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The National Park Service’s loss is The Swag’s gain! Throughout her long career Janet monitored rare plants, helped inventory the park’s biodiversity, and conducted pioneering research on plants of concern such as ginseng, ramps, and mosses. Lately she has become intrigued with the abundant and incredibly diverse mushrooms of the southern Appalachian Mountains. She’s eager to share her newfound knowledge with Swag guests!

Because The Swag is situated at an elevation of nearly 5,000 feet, its nearby trails offer a wide variety of wildflowers from March into November. Hikes to Hemphill Bald and Purchase Knob are especially rewarding for wildflower and mushroom enthusiasts.

Janet will be accompanied by her husband, Steve Kemp, who also had a long career with the Smokies, but he as a writer, editor, and publisher for the park. He is a regular contributor to Smokies Life Magazine and is the author of several books, including Trees of the Smokies, Great Smoky Mountains Impressions, and, most notoriously, Who Pooped in the Park? Steve compliments Janet’s vast botanical knowledge with his ‘color commentator’ wit, and can also share his knowledge of birds, trees, park conservation issues, and history.

Janet and Steve will be leading hikes of 2-5 miles and presenting informative programs at The Swag. We are thrilled to have them share their vast knowledge with our guests season after season and hope you’ll come join us.