The Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association has a new Fall Color report for 9/28/12 at Fall Leaf Color Updates | Great Smoky Mountains Association:
Almost overnight, fall colors are showing up all over the Great Smoky Mountains. At the lower elevations, early changers like black gum, dogwood, Virginia creeper, sumac, and sourwood are displaying rich reds. At the mid elevations, yellow buckeyes are shifting to gold while yellow birch, American beech, and some maples are showing good color.
At the highest elevations, fall has arrived. American mountain-ash has changed to orange or yellow and witch-hobble has gone to burgundy. Mountain maple and berry bushes are also turning. The peak of color at the high elevations should last into the first week of October.
At the lower and mid elevations fall color is likely to peak in late October or early November.
For the most part, 2012 has been a wet year in the Smokies and the deciduous trees appear to be holding onto their leaves quite well. During drought years some trees have already lost many of their leaves by the end of September. Recent rain showers should improve the chances of an extended color season this year.
Recommended hikes include Forney Ridge Trail to Andrews Bald, Road Prong, Thomas Divide, Mt. Cammerer Tower, and Gregory Bald. Good drives are the Blue Ridge Parkway, Balsam Mountain Road, and Clingmans Dome Road.