It’s September and temps are still high but we’ve got our hearts set on cooler weather, pumpkin patches and all the Fall colors. We’re lucky to live in a state that’s beautiful all year long, but even more so during the months when the leaves begin to change from greens to vibrant yellows, rich reds, and burnt oranges. It’s quite the sight to see, so it’s no wonder tens of thousands of people flock to Western North Carolina for a little leaf peeping.
Local experts are predicting a banner color year, with lots of reds and brighter tones, thanks to normal temps in the mountains from April through August, and a warmish September and October prediction.
To help you start planning your trip to see the leaves we’ve put together a list of places to visit that coincide with when their leaves will be changing. Color changes can be a little unpredictable, though, so please make sure to check online before you go.
Late September to Early October
Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Graveyard Fields is under 6,000ft but because of the unique plant species you will find changing leaves earlier in the season. Take the moderate level 3.2 mile hike to explore the waterfalls. PS – it’s called Graveyard Fields because the tree stumps left behind after it was destroyed from fires and logging.
As the highest point east of the Mississippi, Mount Mitchell, which reaches 6,684 ft. is typically one of the first places in the state to see changes in the leaves. Keep Mount Mitchell State Park on your radar if you want to try and catch some colors changing early in the season. Make the hike to the summit and you’ll find an expansive observation deck with unparalleled views.
Early to Mid October
Grandfather Mountain is another early bird when it comes to leaf season thanks to its high elevation. Drive up or hike to the famous Mile-High Swinging Bridge for gorgeous panoramic views of the surrounding mountains from the summit. On your way back down the mountain be sure to stop by Mildred’s Grill for a bite to eat and then walk over to the park’s wildlife habitats to see the black bears.
The charming town of Blowing Rock should be on your fall must-visit list no matter what, but it’s also one of the best places to visit to see a little color in earlier October. Spend some time on Main Street shopping and dining, then make your way to The Blowing Rock for some local history and lore. Tweetsie Railroad is also nearby if you’re looking for a family-friendly activity.
Come the month of October you can expect to see just about everyone making their way to the gorgeous falls to soak up everything that makes the fall season so special, plus the fresh, crisp mountain air. Check out the falls and the continue up the road to Wiseman’s View for truly spectacular views of the falls and gorge below. You’ll also be able to look directly across to Table Rock and Hawk’s Bill Mountain. If you stick around ’til dark you might even witness the elusive Brown Mountain Lights phenomenon.
Also see Beech Mountain, Whiteside Mountain, and Mount Mitchell.
End of October into early November
This may be the one time to go to the Biltmore Estate and not solely focus on the home. When the leaves are changing the property is absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth the short trip to Asheville. Take your time to explore as much of the property as you can, there are scenic mountain views around every corner.
From the lake you can see surrounding leaves and the reflections on the water. The lake is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains in the Hickory Nut Gorge. From certain points you can spot Chimney Rock which is another scenic spot to visit this time of year.
Other places to visit at the end of the month include Chimney Rock State Park and places near the towns of Tryon and Rutherfordton.
Fall Foliage Map ~ Progression Updates on ExploreAsheville.com
The folks at ExploreAsheville.com have put together a GREAT webpage with updates and a progressive map on peak fall color by area. Here’s a view for mid October, but please visit the site yourself and check back for updates before you head out for viewing.
Heading out to check out the leaves? We’d love to see where you end up. Tag us on Instagram @ScoopCharlotte to share your adventures.