2016 Fall Color Report for the NC Mountains: Week 3

As we enter mid-October, color is slowly but surely progressing at our elevation of 2,300 feet above sea level, inside Pisgah National Forest east of Asheville, NC. Mother Nature is using a mostly-yellow color palette at the moment.

During the timeframe of October 10-20, there is sometimes what we call a “stall” in the changing of the trees, where it looks like nothing is happening, as wildflower blossoms wane and early changing tree species, such as sourwoods, sassafras, tulip poplar, beeches and birches, hold steady and wait for their neighbors, the maples, black gums, hickory and oak to join them. Let’s take a sec to identify a few of the trees that are changing right now:

Close up of tree with bright colorful leaves and fringes of flower fronds at the tips

Sourwood at the Inn on Mill Creek (the white fronds are spent blossoms)

sassafras-orange

Sassafras at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B

tulip-poplar-fall-color

Tulip Poplar (Tuliptree) leaf at the Inn on Mill Creek

birch-tree-yellow-leaves

Birch tree at the Inn on Mill Creek

The best places to spot color around Asheville continue to be above 4,500 feet, especially along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are our recommended hikes this week — organized into three categories as we’re doing this year — to help you find some beautiful fall foliage between October 11 and 17:

Fall Color Waterfall: This week, we suggest heading up the beautiful Hwy 221 north out of Marion to Linville Falls, which is just south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Linville Falls is the highest volume waterfall in North Carolina, plunging almost 100 feet down into the Linville Gorge area. It’s spectacular and the hike is a pretty one in the fall. For details, check out this write-up of Linville Falls from our friends at Romantic Asheville.

Linville Falls [photo credit: Romantic Asheville via Pinterest]

Walk in the Woods: Our walk in the woods this week is also near Linville, just a few miles south of Linville Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 320: the Chestoa View Trail. This easy trail is 0.6 miles in a wooded area (great for bird watching) and a portion opens up to a view of the Linville Gorge. Beside the trailhead is a separate path to stone steps that lead to a nice overlook of the gorge. Look for Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain, two very distinct peaks.

Start of a wooded trail with a sign reading Chestoa View Trail .6 miles

Chestoa View Trailhead

To a View: For a pretty mid-October fall view, we’re sending you southwest of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Milepost 408.6: Mt. Pisgah. Not only can you hike to this 5,700-foot-tall peak on a three-mile round-trip trail, but after working up an appetite, you can dine at a fantastic restaurant, the Pisgah Inn, with its own view of the mountains.

View of the mountains near the Pisgah Inn [photo credit: Pisgah Inn]

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