Posted by: Sandy Steinman | October 20, 2014

North Carolina Fall Color 10/19/14

Department of Biology | Appalachian State University has a new detailed fall color report for North Carolina

Fall Color Report for Week of October 19, 2014

Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP).  We took the BRP from there to Asheville, about 71 miles of driving.  Prior to that, as we headed along I-40 through the Asheville area down to Exit 20, it was apparent that the trees were still developing their color –we saw a lot of green, although the upper elevations had some color on them.  However, this drive never has great color, since it’s lower in elevation than other areas, and there is a preponderance of tulip poplars (yellow/brown) and oaks (brown, burnt yellow, rust red).

On the BRP, which in this section runs above 4,500’ for much of its length, most of the hardwood trees at the highest elevations are already leafless.  However, from the many overlooks, you can see more colorful forests about 500’ to 1000’ lower down, and in fact, the best color is found in the mid-elevations, but only sporadically.  Some hillsides are bare, or with weak color, while others, probably those that are more protected, have nice color, with a good mixture of reds, yellows and oranges.  This part of the mountain chain has more oak-hickory forests than those in the Blowing Rock/Grandfather Mountain area, and hence less spectacular color (much less red).  However, the large swaths of yellow, burnt yellow, and even brown, make for a brilliant color display nonetheless, especially when the sun shines on the trees, just minus the reds that you see more often in the Blowing Rock/Grandfather area.

The vistas from this part of the Parkway are among the best anywhere on the road.  Although the viaduct by Grandfather is the most popular part of the BRP, the views from the BRP south of Asheville are sweeping in their grandeur, magnificence and extent.  At some overlooks, you peer right into the Smokies, with others, south to Whitesides and even into north Georgia.  The lack of development in this area provides you with sweeping vistas of what look like endless ranges of mountains and forests.  I was most impressed.  At milepost 417, you get a striking view of Looking Glass Rock, a large granite extrusion.  Either early in the morning or late in the evening are the best times for photographing this volcanic remnant.  Anyone ever climb the face?  Must be challenging.

Other great viewing and hiking spots on this section of the BRP include Waterrock Knob and Graveyard Fields.  At Waterrock, a half a mile to an overlook provides you with vistas of more than 70 miles on a clear day.  Graveyard Fields has streams and waterfalls and some really nice hiking at high elevations.  Just before this, the road crests at its highest point at 6,053’ above sea level.

This was probably the best weekend to see colors on this section of the BRP.  By next weekend, more leaves will be down, although colors may be better below 2,000’ by then.  The Smokies are also still approaching their peak, so head on over to Cherokee and take the road up to Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap.  You’ll pass through green forests at the bottom, good color at mid-elevations, and then forests past their peak above 3,500’.

I’ll post an album of some shots from my drive today on the BRP.  Another good drive is through Brevard into the Pisgah to check out their waterfalls and leaf colors.  Should be ok in the next week to the coming weekend.

As for the Blowing Rock/Boone area, high elevations are past peak, but some mid-slopes still have color, although the reds are muted now, and they are mostly yellow/orange now.  These colors should persist for at least one more week, but each day sees less and less color now.  Better colors are now below 3,000’

That does it for this week!  Sunday promises to be sunny with some clouds, but a small chance of a shower (it’s raining lightly as I write this at 10 pm, Saturday).  Enjoy!!


 To See Pictures, visit the Fall Color Guy’s Facebook page!


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