2016 Fall Color Report for the NC Mountains: Week 5

Fall color has quickly worked its way down the mountainsides near Asheville, NC, adding some nice hues to the landscape at elevations between 2,000 and 3,000 feet heading into the last part of October. Some oranges and reds are lingering at higher elevations as well, but those areas above 3, 500 feet will be slipping past peak soon.

Peak fall color is approaching the Asheville area and we should be right on schedule for an end-of-the-month color show as normal. However, here in Pisgah National Forest at 2,300 feet, it’s become obvious that the actual peak time is going to be hard to discern. So many trees changed early this year (sourwoods look awesome) and so many have yet to change (oak trees, we’re looking at you), so it feels like we are at just 50% with the amount of fall color, but there is plenty of bright fall foliage to be seen as the maple trees start adding oranges and reds to the landscape.

Pisgah National Forest near the Inn on Mill Creek, Oct. 20, 2016

For hiking options during the time frame of October 25 – November 1, we suggest the following, keeping with our three categories of outdoor fall adventures this year:

Fall Color Waterfall: Head over to Dupont State Forest near Brevard (south of Asheville), and you’ll have the ability to choose among several different waterfalls. For a three-in-one waterfall experience, our friends at Romantic Asheville Travel Guide have a nice description of a three-mile hike that encompasses three of the waterfalls at Dupont State Forest: Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls.

Hooker Falls at Dupont State Forest [photo credit: Gary Stevens]

Walk in the Woods: Of course, as we get close to peak color at the Inn on Mill Creek, we’re keeping you close by for this week’s Walk in the Woods trail. It’s actually the  Forest Service road about a quarter-mile from the Inn. Blocked to vehicular traffic (except for the Forest Service), the road is used primarily by people enjoying the scenery — hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, etc. You’ll see all different types of trees, including birch, beech, maple and oak. The Forest Service roads around the Inn are so beautiful this time of year!

Forest Service Road trail entrance near the Inn on Mill Creek

To a View:  Less than two miles from the Inn on Mill Creek is the trailhead for the Point Lookout Trail, a paved 3.5-mile greenway walking/bicycling trail. Not only does it have some cool points-of-interest, including views of the railroad, but this former highway-turned-walking-path contains one of the prettiest views in our neighborhood: Point Lookout. Spanning Royal Gorge, you see peaks in the 2,000-foot range, with lots of late-changing trees, so this view is best seen in late October and even early November during some years.

The view from Point Lookout Trail in late October

As mentioned, the Asheville area should be getting close to peak later this week and into next week, but we don’t see a set “peak” day or days happening this year, so more color is to come. Stay tuned as we may have a few more weeks of fall color reports!

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