Autumn in Full Swing

Autumn in Full Swing
Autumn is in full swing, as the mountaintops explode with vivid color and leaves paint Asheville crimson, orange, and gold. Foliage is peaking at higher elevations above 5,000 feet, while mid- and lower elevations are just starting to show signs of color. For those color hunters that haven't made it to Asheville yet, don't worry. The green leaves that remain in the mid- and lower elevations are sure to burst into vibrant autumn hues in the coming weeks.

Peak Conditions
Mount Pisgah, Richland Balsam, Graveyard Fields, Grandfather Mountain, and anywhere else above 5000 feet are currently at peak conditions. Mount Mitchell, the highest summit east of the Mississippi River, is certainly no exception. The birches that dominate Mount Mitchell's forests have filled its slopes with golden yellow. All of these areas are accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway. This weeks mild temperatures makes it the perfect time for a fall vacation.

The Major Players
In addition to yellow birches, you will find blazing orange sugar maples, and orange-red sumacs. Red maples generally have the brightest color, ranging from bright red to burgundy. Dogwoods and sourwoods have a rustier shade of red. Wild blueberry leaves have a maroon color. Silver bells, sweet shrubs and spice bushes also display yellow. Mountain ash is a brilliant orange and is producing heavy branches of red fall berries at higher elevations. As you drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway you will notice bright red vines up in the trees and sprawling over rocks and boulders; this is the Virginia creeper at work.

Fall Color in Asheville
The foliage here in Asheville is just beginning and signs of a great foliage season are everywhere. Kimberly Ave., running just north of downtown near The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, is a beautiful drive that stays within city limits. For a longer drive that stays local, Town Mountain Road and Elk Mountain Scenic Highway also provide excellent views of fall color. Leaf peepers also share that Interstate 26 headed north is boasting some incredible fall scenic views.

Late Bloomers
Western North Carolina's wide range of elevation makes for an extended leaf season. Although the highest mountains have had color for weeks, the leaf season is just getting started at lower elevations. The first colors of fall have finally arrived at Hickory Nut Gorge at Chimney Rock Park as well as DuPont State Forest, where the season is expected to peak in two weeks and last until mid-November. While the leaves have yet to unleash their full color in these areas, fall wildflowers are coloring the landscape. If you are planning a trip soon, you'll catch pink turtleheads and white snakeroot, as well as goldenrods and asters which continue to display yellow, lavender, and cream.

Scenic Hikes
In addition to the mountains listed above, you can find amazing fall vistas by hiking the Julian Price Lake Loop, Sims Pond Loop Trail, or any portion of the Tanawha Trail.
UpdatesMake sure to check back each week for updates on where to find the best color in Western North Carolina. And as you’re out this fall in the Asheville area, share your fall photos with us.

Insider Tips
Fall Harvest Tailgate Flavors of the Week: At the markets this week you will find delicious locally grown vegetables such as squashes, broccoli, tomatoes, okra, eggplant, and turnips. You will also find locally raised meats such as pastured pork and lamb, free range chicken, grass fed beef, and farm-raised rainbow trout.
Budget Tip: You don't have to spend a lot of money to have an enriching vacation experience in the Asheville area. In fact, you can enjoy time with your family and friends this fall at many area attractions without spending a penny. For more information, check out our free fall activities.

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