10/5/2011 - The WNC Fall Leaf Color Show Is Beginning!
LET THE COLORS BEGIN! IT'S EARLY OCTOBER - time for everyone to grab a jacket and get out into the fall colors. Whether you're enjoying a hike or a drive, the mountains of Western North Carolina provide you with a spectacular show this time of year!!
The Asheville-Hendersonville fall leaf color show in the North Carolina mountains attracts visitors from around the world. With the 5,000-foot elevation change within 50 miles of Asheville and Hendersonville, our lush Blue Ridge Mountain range puts on one of the longest-running leaf color displays in the country. After enjoying nature's grand show, head to any of the towns in Western North Carolina to enjoy the many local restaurants and shops.
The number one question is: "When is the peak color?" No matter when you plan an autumn visit in October or early November, you can take a short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to find the best color. Elevation and weather are the biggest factors in the color show. Leaves begin their color change on the highest peaks and gradually work down to the lowest elevations. An early frost speeds up the show and warm weather prolongs it. Below is our best guess of the progression of the color show (watch for updated leaf reports and prediction).
October 2, 2011 Update Colder weather arrived this weekend with frosty mornings and even a few snow flakes are possible atop Mt. Mitchell! Dress warmly - highs in the 40s on Saturday along much of the Blue Ridge Parkway! Fall color is slow to arrive with recent warm weather. So color is spotty right now, with the most color at the highest elevations.
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 18-26: 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 in Pisgah National Forest would be Looking Glass Rock or Cradle of Forestry. North of Asheville, head to Linville Gorge with hikes to the top of Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain.
October 26-November 5: The city of Asheville (2,000 feet elevation) shows the brightest colors this week, along with areas around Hendersonville and Brevard. This is 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.