First Peak Fall Foliage Expected This Weekend

Linville Gap Fall Color ReportThe fall foliage is still emerging throughout the area in splashes of burgundy and gold. As the weather cools and prompts the leaves to begin their fall color change, peak color is anticipated any day at the highest points just north and south of Asheville.

The Blue Ridge Parkway spans many elevations, making it a great way to hunt for color as it tends to start high and work its way to the lower elevations.

"We're expecting a rapid onset of peak color just north and south of Asheville," the Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Color Hotline states, and they do not expect the recent dry weather to impact the display of color. "Leaf color can be just as brilliant."

Along the parkway, the hawk and monarch butterfly migrations are beginning. The busiest time for visitors is almost here, and parkway officials urge leaf peepers to visit on weekdays if possible.

Fall Color Report (2,500 Elevation and Below)

Even at the lower elevations, the first touches of fall color are beginning to show. "We are seeing some," said Glenda Morrow with the Black Mountain - Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce. "The dogwoods are turning, they're a pretty marroonish hue. Some of our sourwood ash and birch are starting to turn. It's just starting."

At Biltmore, the first cool nights and shorter days are spurring a spark of fall color, according to Director of Horticulture Parker Andes. Dogwoods and sourwoods are showing some burgundy, and tulip poplars are displaying the occasional burst of yellow. The interior leaves of Sweet Pepper bush and Sweetspire are turning orange and burgundy.

Fall Color Report (Elevation of 2,500 to 4,000)

Julie Trzeciajk with Nantahala National Forest, said the fall color is just beginning to appear. "I see spots of sourwood that are kind of a burgundy color," she said.

Fall Color Report (4,000 Feet and Above)

The fall foliage peak could come as early as this weekend at the highest elevations, expected first at spots around 6,000 feet high like Mt. Pisgah south of Asheville and Mt. Mitchell north of Asheville.

"What leaves we have at elevations 6,000 and above will probably be peaking this weekend," predicted Jack Bradley, superintendent of Mt. Mitchell State Park, featuring the highest peak east of the Mississippi. "At the highest elevations, they will be the prettiest this weekend."

Grandfather Mountain (pictured above at Linville Gap, photo taken on Sept. 21) is seeing small pockets of color as the first signs of autumn emerge. They are awaiting a few nippy nights to bring the fall color change along quickly.

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First signs of fall color at Grandfather Mountain's Linville Gap, photo by Catherine Morton of Grandfather Mountain.

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