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Fall Foliage in North Carolina

Reynolda House leaves gardensNorth Carolina offers stunning fall foliage and color from the first weeks of October through early November. The annual show of vibrant reds, orange and gold begins in the higher elevations, such as Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain, and works its way down the mountains, to the foothills and then the Piedmont.

Predicting “Peak” Color Times

Due to our moderate temperatures and vast rainfall this summer, it is expected to be a robust and beautiful fall foliage year. In fact, spotty color is already being reported in higher elevations and two weeks ago we started to see a few red leaves at Pilot Mountain.

Best Fall Foliage Color Drives

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway Fall FoliageFrom Winston-Salem, the drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Grandfather Mountain and the Linn Cove Viaduct is a popular one for fall leaves that will not disappoint. Asheville boasts a 5,000-foot elevation change within 50 miles of the city, making the Blue Ridge Mountain range one of the longest lasting fall foliage color displays in the country.

Bakersville to Roan Mountain – Appalachian Trail

Another great fall color drive, according to Fall Color Forecaster Dr. Howard Neufeld, is to drive “up NC 261 from Bakersville/Spruce Pine to Roan Mountain.” Where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road there, you can hike in the forest and see spectacular views.

Suggested 2014 Fall Color Viewing Schedule

Fall Autumn yellow gold leavesOctober 2-9: Highest elevations north of Asheville above 5,000 feet, such as, Mount Mitchell, Craggy Gardens, Grandfather Mountain, Beech Mountain and Rough Ride areas.

October 8-16: Color should reach the 4,000 feet mark, in such areas on the Blue Ridge Parkway as Mount Pisgah, Black Balsam, Devil’s Courthouse, Waterrock Knob and Graveyard Fields; and areas in the Highlands such as Whiteside Mountain (don’t miss their waterfalls!); and also the Great Smoky Mountains area including Alum Cave and Chimney Tops.

October 14-23: Vibrant color should be plentiful at the 4,000-3,000 ft elevation marks in mountains surrounding Asheville. Visit areas like Pisgah National Forest and hike to Cradle of Forestry or Looking Glass Rock; or visit Linville Gorge and hike to Table Rock or Hawksbill Mountain.

October 20-29: During this time, the city of Asheville (and Biltmore Estate there) has historically shown the brightest fall foliage colors, as well as areas around Brevard and Hendersonville, NC. Try a waterfall hike in DuPont State Forest or a walk to the NC Arboretum.Or even Translyvania County for some Halloween-inspired trails.

October 25-November 2: As the colors make a final showing, visit the Chimney Rock area, or consider a boat tour on Lake Lure. A walk around Salem Lake right here in Winston-Salem will showcase the finest in fall color as it reflects off the shimmering waters.

Resources: www.visitnc.com, Fall Color Guy Facebook page, www.romanticasheville.com

Our site's mission is to help consumers make more informed purchase decisions. This website accepts financial compensation from some of the companies mentioned which allows us to provide this free service to our readers. Compensation does not influence the rankings of products. More info on our disclosure page.


About Kristi Marion
Kristi was born and raised just up the road in Mount Airy (a.k.a. Mayberry) and frequented Winston-Salem often growing up for school field trips, shopping, and dining. After attending Appalachian State University, and a brief stint living in Southern Virginia, Kristi returned to Winston-Salem, NC in 1999 and began her work in non-profit, public relations and writing. She and her family enjoy the convenience of living near downtown Winston-Salem. She enjoys the arts, photography and cooking. "I'm a small town girl at heart, but Winston-Salem isn't an overwhelming city. It is rich with friendly people, history, culture and has a vibrant art community and that is why I am proud to call this "My Winston-Salem!"
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