Fall Color in the North Carolina Mountains: Week 5

View from Point Lookout Trail near the Inn, October 27, 2012

It looks like this will be our last fall color report for 2012…Frankenstorm arrived in the mountains of Western North Carolina earlier this week and blew many of the leaves to the ground at our elevation (2,300 feet). We had some really strong wind gusts as a result of Hurricane Sandy and the winter storm system that decided to overlap and bring crazy weather to the Eastern U.S., but we were fortunate and only lost two apple trees and our power and phone service for the day. Our guests and innkeeper friends who live in areas affected by this week’s weather are foremost in our thoughts — hope everyone came through the storm OK!

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2012 Biltmore Christmas Candelight Tickets

[Photo Credit: Biltmore]

When we mention to guests that Biltmore Estate in Asheville decks its halls with bows of holly for the Christmas season, we’re talking 175,000 square feet of halls, living rooms and dining rooms and gathering rooms, bedrooms and more, completely decked out in Christmas grandeur. When the annual tree raising ceremony at Biltmore Estate happens (at 10am on November 1 this year), it’s a 35-foot Christmas tree for the seven-story banquet hall inside Biltmore House, which also happens to have a massive fireplace that’s actually three fireplaces in one. Santa definitely has his choice of chimneys to come down at Biltmore — there are 65 fireplaces in total.

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Fall Color in the North Carolina Mountains: Week 4

The road to the Inn on Mill Creek, October 20, 2012

Welcome to peak leaf peeping week at our elevation (2,300 feet). This is one of the best autumn color shows that we’ve seen in a few years here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. The fall foliage started out mostly yellow, with hickories, birches and beeches, and now the maples and sassafras are giving us rather striking orange and red hues, and the oaks are now starting to turn as well. Peak colors typically happen at our elevation sometime between October 21-31, and for the past several years, it has been on the later end of that timeframe. This year, Mother Nature decided to switch things up and make it a little earlier.

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North Carolina Mountain Birds: Pileated Woodpecker

Our 12 Months of Birding series continues this month with the Pileated Woodpecker. The Pileated Woodpecker is a large bird who lives year-round in Pisgah National Forest that surrounds the Inn on Mill Creek. In particular, they love the woods just behind our fruit orchard and if you sit on the swing at the Inn for a little while, you can often hear their bold, striking calls, which match their striking looks. (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology defines the Pileated Woodpecker’s call as “whinnying”.)

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Fall Color in the North Carolina Mountains: Week 2

The second week of October in our neck of the woods near Asheville and Black Mountain, North Carolina, is usually one of those weeks where the color will either slow down or speed up, a week when a few wind gusts may knock down the “early changers”, leaving those trees with bare branches while others are still mostly green, and a week when the air feels noticeably crisper but sunshine can make the days bright and warm in the afternoons.

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