2015 NC Mountains Fall Color Report Week 1

Hey! It’s time for this year’s fall color reports! Why the exclamation points, you ask? Well, usually, our first week report doesn’t have much to share in the way of color. Early fall in the mountains of North Carolina brings little bits of fall foliage here and there, while goldenrod and aster and cardinal flower generally make up for the mostly green landscape during the first week of fall. This year, however, is another story.

We have real color to report! So let’s check it out:

Higher elevations (those above 4,500 feet) along the Blue Ridge Parkway are already seeing pretty shades of gold and red dotting the landscape, with wildflowers and mountain ash berries complimenting the fall color palette.

Red car on a road leading to a mountain covered in the start of fall color

Blue Ridge Parkway [photo credit: RomanticAsheville.com Facebook Page]

Note: This has been a particularly rainy week in the mountains around Asheville, so fall color hunters have had a bit of a challenge getting to all the choice spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which can be really, really foggy during rainy weather. But once you reach these destinations, you may be able to catch a clear spot. And the extended forecast looks to be more reasonable going into next week.

Fall color peaking through a lush green forest

Color starting to show on Bernard Ridge next to the Inn on Mill Creek

Sourwoods are providing a nice scarlet hue right now at our elevation, while birch and hickory add some sunshiny yellow on even the cloudiest of days. Things are still mostly green here at 2,300 feet. So, our recommendations for fall foliage viewing during the end of September and beginning of October are:

  • Linville Falls: It’s the highest volume waterfall in North Carolina, so you know it’s going to look spectacular after several days of rain! Be careful on the trails around Linville Falls as they can be slippery in inclement weather. Our preferred route to Linville Falls is via Hwy 221 north of Marion to the Blue Ridge Parkway. If rain is hampering your views, stop in to the Linville Caverns for an alternative afternoon of fun. Linville Falls Winery and the English Farmstead Cheese store are also right there on Hwy 221. And just two miles south of Linville on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of our favorite overlooks, Chestoa View, and the Chestoa View Trail, which look out over Linville Gorge.
  • Grandfather Mountain: A state park and nature preserve, Grandfather Mountain is close to Linville Falls and color has been progressing rather nicely there this week. You must pay a small fee to enter the park, which provides access to a beautiful meadow, several hiking trails, wildlife habitats and more. Be warned that weekend crowds in the fall are very heavy. Other hiking options in the area include Linville Falls and Linville Gorge, and the drive around Grandfather Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Linn Cove Viaduct is pretty awesome, too.
Road curving around a mountain full of brilliant fall foliage

Linn Cove Viaduct in the fall [photo credit: Hugh Morton]

  • Graveyard Fields: This is a unique spot — a valley at 5,000 feet above sea level with higher peaks around it. Graveyard Fields gets its name from tree stumps that used to be in the valley. Now, there are trees and shrubs, boardwalks and trails, two waterfalls, and best of all, fall colors! Graveyard Fields, south of Asheville and Mt. Pisgah, is one of the first places in the region to see changing leaves every year.
Wooden fence along a winding trail through fall color

Graveyard Fields [photo credit: Jennifer Mesk Photography]

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