High Country fall foliage options abound

High Country fall foliage options abound

2:34pm Oct 18, 2021
Pictured during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, this picnic spot on Grandfather Mountain, located just before Split Rock and Sphinx Rock, offers spectacular views of fall color, accompanied by the mountains and valleys below. Fall color is presently bursting on Grandfather, and the color change is steadily making its way into the lower elevations, with birches, maples, and sourwoods stealing the show. Experts anticipate peak color around Oct. 20 for the WNC High Country. More fall color photos are at www.grandfather.com/fallcolor. Photo by Skip Sickler, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

Fall foliage was on full display over the weekend drawing thousands of eager leaf watchers to the High Country. While peak colors at the uppermost elevations may have already passed, there are still plenty of gorgeous views to be taken in not far from the Triad.

On Sunday, Grandfather Mountain and Rough Ridge were ablaze with fall colors attracting visitors from morning to sundown. And just north of Boone, one of the area’s newest state parks, Elk Knob at nearly 6,000 feet, continues to provide less-trafficked fall foliage vistas that stretch into Virginia. There’s still excellent viewing to be had on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of Asheville as well.

Howard Neufeld is a biology professor at Appalachian State University. He says the recent heatwave followed by last weekend’s cold snap has been a win-win for nature lovers in the High Country.

“That really should get the colors going,” he says. “So, I think colors will start to develop, and I think next weekend for driving along the parkway and looking at the views, that should be really good. And even the week after that, because even though where you are on the parkway — say at 3,000 feet — if you’re looking down into the Wilson Creek areas that are down around 2,000 feet, then the week after that those vistas start to color up also.”

Neufeld says leaf enthusiasts can enjoy fall peak colors well into the first week of November at lower elevations such as Chimney Rock State Park near Asheville, and closer to the Triad, Stone Mountain and Hanging Rock at roughly 2,000 feet will provide great viewing then too.

Support your
public radio station