2019 Fall Color Report for the North Carolina Mountains, Week 5

And just like that, BOOM. Fall color is here. We have only good news to report this week, other than the fact that it is raining today…sunshine tomorrow though! Mother Nature finally decided to brush some serious color onto the fall landscape in the Asheville area. Ready to check out this week’s leaf peeping hot spots?

Although we’re still a couple of weeks away from peak color at elevations below 3,500 feet around Asheville, many places above 3,500 feet are shining this week with brilliant shades of gold, orange and red as the leaves of birch, beech, maples and sweetgum trees change. Remembering that we are still a week behind in fall foliage this year, here are some places you’ll be able to catch color during the week of October 20:

  • Crabtree Falls – Access the hiking trail for this beautiful waterfall from the Blue Ridge Parkway northeast of Asheville (Milepost 339 at the Crabtree Meadows Campground). You can do the trail as an out-and-back from the parking lot to the falls, or as a longer, more strenuous loop.
  • Green Knob – we love the hike to Green Knob (trailhead located off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Hwy 80) and one of the reasons it’s special is that it has a really neat fire tower at the top. The Green Knob Overlook parking lot near the trailhead is a great viewing spot for fall color. Plus, Green Knob is the peak you can see from our apple orchard here at the Inn, so when you are at the overlook parking lot, be sure to wave hi to us!
  • Greybeard Mountain in Montreat – the highest of the “Seven Sisters” mountain range in Montreat north of the town of Black Mountain, Greybeard (you’ll sometimes see it misspelled as Graybeard) offers stellar views above 5,000 feet. With more than 2,400 feet in elevation gain, the hiking trail is considered moderate-to-strenuous and we don’t recommend it on a rainy day due to the terrain, but if the sun is out, get your hiking boots out.
  • Looking Glass Fallsnot up to a hike? Take a scenic drive on Highway 276 southwest of Asheville to Looking Glass Falls, located right off the road. You’ll see some gorgeous fall color on Hwy 276, but you might also see a lot of cars. Be prepared for crowds if you go on a Friday or Saturday.

Now on to the feature in our Seeing the Forest through the Trees weekly profile of native trees: the sweetgum.

Closeup of a tree's star shaped leaves

Leaves of the American Sweetgum tree

If you’re looking for a superstar in the fall color landscape, the American Sweetgum is one. It even has star-shaped leaves. In the fall, the leaves of the sweetgum turn rich shades of yellow and red, and almost look purple sometimes. And although some sweetgums change early, we consider it more of a mid-season changer, and the leaves tend to stay on the tree for a while through the season. As an added bonus, the sweetgum tree is great for wildlife: birds go crazy for the seeds and the sweetgum fruit is a cool-looking spiky ball, which our chipmunks and squirrels love.

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