Fall color has begun its descent along area mountain slopes with areas around 3,000-4,500 feet in elevation displaying the best color. This offers up a greater number of drives and hikes perfect for this time of year, and ideal for a sunshine-filled weekend.
See fall color from afar by visiting some of the area's grassy balds. Located near milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway is Black Balsam Knob (elevation 6,214 feet). From there, take in the long-range views of the lower mountains, which are now casting an autumn glow. Another great mountain bald to explore is Max Patch (elevation 4,630 feet). Located west of Asheville along the Appalachian Trail, the views are equally as stunning of the surrounding mountains.
With the recent rainfall the mountains have received, this would be a perfect week to visit the Cullasaja Gorge. Not only will you get the satisfying crunch of fall leaves under your boots, but you'll also discover this forest is home to a number of beautiful waterfalls. This includes Bridal Veil Falls (which you can drive under), Quarry Falls, and the beautiful 65-foot Dry Falls.
Looking Glass Rock Overlook at Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 417 is
breathtaking this time of year.According to Fall Color Guy and biologist Dr. Howard Neufeld, the sweet spot for color this week is also the elevation range that encapsulates most of the Blue Ridge Parkway, making this the perfect time for a drive up to Looking Glass Rock Overlook at milepost 417. He says, "The red maples, sourwoods, sugar maples, and blueberries and huckleberries are very showy this year. The reds are especially brilliant, and provide a striking contrast with the yellow and orange colored trees on the landscape."
The crimson hue of dogwoods and red maples is considered by many to be indicative of a great fall color season. (Dr. Neufeld calls this year a 9 out of 10!) You might be surprised to know that, unlike yellow and orange leaves, leaves that turn red actually produce the pigment themselves, a phenomenon we're only beginning to understand. Check out some of the theories scientists have on this mystery of fall foliage.
Brilliant chrysanthemums brighten the Walled Garden at Biltmore.
Photo courtesy of Biltmore.If you like yellow, take a detour off the Parkway on to Highway 276 toward Looking Glass Falls and the Cradle of Forestry, where Devin Gentry says the foliage "is absolutely stunning right now due to the abundance of birch trees that grow along Looking Glass Creek—every shade of yellow you can think of."
On Biltmore Estate, horticulture expert Parker Andes is seeing a rainbow of colors, from near-purple to bright orange among the sourwoods, sumac, sweet gum and black gum trees. "Especially nice in the gardens," he says, "are the deciduous shrubs with sweet shrub, viburnums, oakleaf hydrangea and fothergilla all adding to the colors of the fall blooming chrysanthemums, asters and goldenrods." Don't miss the stunning chrysanthemum display in the Walled Garden right now.
This week make time to visit one of the best handmade craft expos in the southeast. The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands showcases fine traditional and contemporary crafts. Year after year, this event continues to be one of the best ways to discover authentic Appalachian craftsmanship. Multiple exhibits, demonstrations and regional musicians are all a part of this biannual event.