Bursts of Fall Color Appearing

Early Fall Color at Grandfather MountainThe fall foliage season is gaining momentum quickly, with bursts of fall color striking first at the highest elevations. Even at the lower elevations, pockets of yellow and red are blazing bright.

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, there are many changes occuring with the first cool evenings, according to the parkway hotline. There are tremendous displays of wildflowers like sunflowers, ironweed and bee balm. Row crops of pumpkins, cabbage and corn are reminders of the agricultural heritage of this part of the country.

This is a wonderful time to experience the Asheville area's commitment to agriculture and locally-grown produce with some autumn harvest adventures.

Fall Color Report (2,500 Elevation and Below)

The fall color is beginning to spark at the lower elevations, with pretty dashes of color in and around the downtown Asheville area.

At Biltmore, the dogwoods are developing a nice burgundy color and serviceberries have turned a lovely shade of yellow. The first bright colors are showing on a few branches of sweet and black gum trees, and some leaves are burgundy, some dark red and others reddish orange.

Deciduous native azaleas are joining the viburnums, witch hazels and other shrubs in their earliest color. As a special fall treat, the cream-colored leaves of the katsura tree are giving off a fragrance of spicy vanilla that will fill the garden on warm sunny days through the end of October.

The North Carolina Arboretum is experiencing a mix of fall foliage and fall blooms. "The dwarf dogwoods along our entrance turned yellow about a week ago and are still shining bright and beautiful," said Gavin Young from the Arboretum. "My favorite maple tree up near the Arboretum's water features is turning red in a polka-dot pattern. And then, we're starting to see changes in the sourwoods, blackgums, and beech trees. Some of our fall wildflowers like aster and goldenrod are amazing right now too.

At Black Mountain, Erica Bell is expecting colors to continue to emerge between now and the popular Lake Eden Arts Festival later this month. "I can see hints of yellow on the tops of the trees on many ridgelines in the distance."

Fall Color Report (Above 2,500 Feet)

The higher elevations are seeing bolder displays of color, with some of the highest elevations like Waterrock Knob, Mount Pisgah and Graveyard Fields nearing peak color.

The Orchard at Altapass is seeing some emerging color. At this point, color is spotty. It's beginning to show a few oranges and yellows in the Little Switzerland area.

The changing of the leaves has only just begun in the area around Grandfather Mountain, according to Catherine Morton. "Cooler temperatures are expected next week and should make the Grandfather Mountain area its most colorful in the middle two weeks of October," she said.

The best places around Grandfather Mountain to look for color this week are in Linville Gap at the intersection of NC 105 and NC 184 near Sugar Mountain and on the peaks of Grandfather Mountain as seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway between Blowing Rock and Linville.

At Mt. Mitchell State Park, the leaves are starting to turn, but they are still predominately green. They are starting to see dots of red and orange.

Photos by Helen Hopper of leaf color changes at Grandfather Mountain.

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