The weather seems to have gotten back to “Fall normal” as we move through the month of October in the North Carolina mountains around Asheville. Cool nights are back, as are sunny days. And it looks like the color that we do have will be lovely for Week 4 of our fall season.
Mother Nature started off at full speed right out of the gate in late September, but has eased off the gas pedal over the past two weeks. Her fall color palette is beautiful at elevations above 4,500 feet northeast of Asheville as well as in select areas southwest of Asheville. Here at our elevation of 2,300 feet inside Pisgah National Forest east of Asheville, maples and birch are just beginning to take the stage, and our early changers still have their leaves. Our guess is another three or more weeks of good, gradual color change ahead.
Here are our destination drives for October 17-24:
Daytrip Destination Drive #1: Linville Falls via Highway 221: Sure, you can get to Linville Falls by going on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville, but we prefer going east out of Old Fort on Highway 70 and taking Highway 221 north from Marion. There are some other great things to do along the way — a winery, caverns, a cheese shop, golf course, and more. Turn right on the Blue Ridge Parkway and go north, then turn right off the Parkway just past Milepost 317 to get to the Linville Falls visitor center and parking lot. Blue Ridge Mountain Life has a nice description of Linville Falls.
Alternative Destination: If it looks crowded at Linville Falls, or if you need a shorter hike, check out Duggers Creek Falls, located just a short distance from the Linville Falls Visitor Center. Check out this description from our friends at Romantic Asheville Travel Guide.
Daytrip Destination Drive #2: DuPont State Forest: Mid-October is a fabulous time to take a scenic drive southwest of Asheville. There’s a nice fall color route taking the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville to Hwy 276 south, then to Hwy 64 east, with a few more turns to get you to DuPont State Forest. This state-maintained forest has several waterfall hikes and beautiful views. When you’re done at DuPont, instead of taking Hwy 64 west back to Hwy 276, continue on Hwy 64 east to Hendersonville. Lots of apple orchards in that area as well!
Alternative Destination: Strapped for time and want to avoid heavy crowds? Stop off at the Cradle of Forestry, a 6,500-acre heritage site and birthplace of science-based forest management, located on Hwy 276 south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The admission is only $5. They have great exhibits, hiking opportunities and even a cafe and gift shop.