2020 Fall Color Report for the North Carolina Mountains, Week 2

Early October is bringing us pops of fall color and it’s making us very happy! We’re so lucky to be inside Pisgah National Forest, watching the season progress and while Mother Nature has a way to go with her fall color show, we are liking Act 1 so far.

Tall trees full of leaves and a clear sky

A sourwood tree shows its stuff at the Inn on Mill Creek in early October

The forest is still mostly green, which is to be expected at the beginning of October at our elevation (2,300 feet), and that gives the early changing trees time to really shine. Keep an eye out for tupelo trees, also known as black gum, as well as sweet gums, dogwoods and sourwoods, all of which are providing various shades of red here and there amidst the green. Yellows can be found in carolina silverbell trees and birch trees, especially along the road to the Inn on Mill Creek and on Horse Ridge behind our orchard, which is dominated by oaks that change later in the season. The ridge behind our pond, Bernard Ridge, on the other hand, includes a lot of early and mid-season changers and we expect the next week or so to be really pretty on Bernard Ridge.

A stand of trees with leafy branches hanging in front

Yellows shine in the landscape in early October at the Inn on Mill Creek

Pond with various types of trees in the background

The pond at the Inn on Mill Creek B&B in early October

And as we mentioned last week, don’t forget the wildflowers! If there is an unmowed area here at the Inn or elsewhere in the area, that’s because we are enjoying colorful open spaces and hillsides covered in wildflowers. The pollinators appreciate the flowers, too.

Closeup of daisies and other wildflowers on a hillside

Wildflowers grace the hillside adjacent to our orchard

Also as noted last week, our weekly fall color report theme this year is The Hunt for Red… and Orange… and Yellow… October. If you’re on the hunt for colorful fall foliage from October 6-13, we recommend the following areas:

Grandfather Mountain and Rough Ridge, both northeast of Asheville, and Graveyard Fields southeast of Asheville were our picks last week and we carry them over into this week’s report as fall progresses at elevations above 5,000 feet. In addition, we recommend taking scenic Highway 80 north out of Marion to the Blue Ridge Parkway. That will put you at about Milepost 344 (the Parkway uses wooden milepost markers to mark distance) and then turn south on the Parkway to Mount Mitchell State Park at Milepost 355. The drive will include scenic overlooks that show some early color and Mount Mitchell State Park provides a 360-degree view from atop the highest peak in the eastern United States. Enjoy a hike while you’re there (we recommend the first mile of the Deep Gap trail heading to Mount Craig from Mount Mitchell) and see if you can spot fall color at near-distant elevations below. Planning Tip: Mount Mitchell State Park is under COVID restrictions on the number of people permitted in the park, so it is best to go on a weekday or as early as you can get there on weekends. Also, the restaurant is currently closed for renovations, so if you are looking for a bite to eat, hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway going north and check out Little Switzerland, or head back down Highway 80 to Marion for more options.

Split rail fence with tall trees behind it, some of which are showing fall foliage color

Just a few pops of color from trees along the road to the Inn in early October… more to come!

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