9/22/2009 - Leaf Season has arrived in Western North Carolina
by Romantic Asheville
Forecasters say fall foliage in the mountains may not be quite as spectacular this year because of abundant rainfall. But leaf peepers in Western North Carolina will still find plenty of blazing orange, red and yellow vistas in the weeks to come. Heres a condensed guide on what to expect.
Depends on the tree
The peak color change time in WNC traditionally is in the middle of October, although the sourwood and tulip poplar trees change earlier, in late September to early October, with deep red and yellow leaves, respectively. Next come the deep purple color of Bradford pears and red of dogwoods.
Mid-October brings the red, yellow and orange of maples, and the yellow of birches and cherries, followed in late-October by the yellow and red of oaks and sweetgums, yellow of hickories and bronze of beeches, and a variety of other color shades in the vines, shrubs and smaller trees beneath the forest canopy
When and where to look
October 3-14: Highest elevations north of Asheville above 5,000 feet show the most color, especially in the Mount Mitchell, Craggy Gardens and Grandfather Mountain areas. See the former Land of Oz Theme Park on Oct 3-4.
October 11-21: Color will increase in elevations greater than 4,000 feet, including the Mount Pisgah, Black Balsam, Devil's Courthouse, Waterrock Knob and Graveyard Fields, southwest of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It will also be peak color in the Highlands area, with plenty of waterfalls to enjoy, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
October 18-27: Many of the surrounding mountains around Asheville show plenty of color, especially in the 3,000-4,000 foot elevation range. Take the Parkway north or south from Asheville. A great hike would be Looking Glass Rock or Cradle of Forestry.
October 24-November 3: The city of Asheville (2,000 foot elevation) shows the brightest colors this week, along with areas around Hendersonville and Brevard. This would be the perfect week for a waterfall hike in Dupont State Forest or leisurely walk at the NC Arboretum. This is also the peak leaf color for Biltmore Estate.
October 27-November 7: The color show will conclude in the Chimney Rock area (elevation of 1,300 feet). Ride to the top of Chimney Rock or take a boat tour on Lake Lure.