Watauga River

Watauga River

Fallen leaves litter rocks along the Watauga River on the Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain. (Photo by Skip Sickler) Today marks our final fall color update for the 2014. As the fall color season bids farewell to the North Carolina High Country, the foothills are just starting to see these most visible signs of autumn. For those planning to enjoy the season across the state, the N.C. Division of Tourism offers foliage reports, fishing outlooks, trip ideas, and calendars at...
Linville Falls

Linville Falls

Water flows over the upper falls at Linville Falls en route to the 45-foot plunge. (Photo by Skip Sickler) Elevations around 3,000 feet continue to impress leaf-lookers as the foothills of North Carolina reach peak fall color. At the upper reaches of North Carolina, only a handful of individual trees remain...
Old Cranberry School

Old Cranberry School

A line of colorful maples stands outside the Old Cranberry School in Avery County, N.C., while windswept leaves create patterns along the ground. (Photo by Skip Sickler) Areas around Linville Gorge, Hawksbill Mountain and Table Rock Mountain are looking very colorful this week, and color is still visible in the valleys as viewed from the High...
Crossnore

Crossnore

Fall colors envelop a barn on U.S. 221 beween Crossnore and Linville Falls in Avery County, N.C. (Photo by Skip Sickler) Barn quilts have been a part of rural North Carolina culture for years and continue to charm visitors to the area today. Arts Councils in Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties have created reference maps to help motorists locate these hidden gems. Visitors to the area should expect to see plenty of color along U.S. 332 and N.C. 181 headed up the mountain this weekend, when pleasant temperatures and sunshine are on...
Erwin’s View Overlook

Erwin’s View Overlook

The Linville River winds through colorful trees near Erwin’s View Overlook at Linville Falls. (Photo by Skip Sickler) This moderate, 1.6-mile trail offers four overlooks for hikers to enjoy sights of autumn leaves and the falls. The High Country was hit with blustery winds and chilly temperatures Wednesday morning, but forecasters are calling for a gradual warming and drying as the weekend...
Flat Rock Trail

Flat Rock Trail

Fallen leaves gather on a mushroom-ridden log near Grandfather Mountain. (Photo by Skip Sickler) At the highest elevations in western North Carolina, visitors are increasingly finding the most beautifully colored leaves cascading toward the ground. As Halloween approaches in the High Country, Grandfather Mountain will celebrate its Beary Scary Halloween festival on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The event offers a full day of nature programs about creepy, crawly critters, Halloween-themed crafts, animal enrichments and trick-or-treating, all included with park admission. Kids in costume enter the park for half...
Valle Crucis

Valle Crucis

Green and gold intermingle on this hillside in Valle Crucis, N.C. (photo by Skip Sickler). Just a few miles away, the Valle Country Fair is abuzz with craft vendors, savory food, mountain music, entertainment and family fun. The free festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The scent of autumn fills the air throughout the western North Carolina mountains now, as fallen leaves begin to litter the hiking trails and scenic drives. But trees at mid- and lower elevations in the High Country will still offer spectacular color for several more days to...
Avery Co.

Avery Co.

Psychedelic sumac trees line the side of a rural road in Avery County, N.C. (Photo by Skip Sickler) This beautiful tree, unrelated to poison sumac, produces a red fruit in late summer similar in shape to the magnolia tree’s fruit. The abundance of fall color right along the roadside will make driving the High Country a treat this weekend amid pleasant temperatures and sunshine. While trees at the upper elevations of the High Country have peaked, lower elevations and views into the valleys below should offer stunning color for several more days to...
Beacon Heights

Beacon Heights

Vivid red blueberry bushes, dark green rhododendrons and the oranges and yellows of autumn trees provide a kaleidoscope of color at Beacon Heights off the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Photo by Skip Sickler) As the final rainclouds pass out of the High Country on Thursday, the forecast looks spectacular for the weekend ahead. At Grandfather Mountain, naturalists will offer one final weekend of the guided walk series “Colors of Grandfather” on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. These short jaunts, included with regular park admission, showcase the autumn colors while allowing guests to learn about the color change process and...
Mill Pond

Mill Pond

Downstream from the Mill Pond in Banner Elk, runoff from Tuesday’s storms gushes among the still-colorful trees. (Photo by Skip Sickler) At Grandfather Mountain, staff recorded 4.22 inches of rain accumulation at the base of the mountain Wednesday morning. Despite heavy storms in the area Tuesday, mountain-dwellers emerged Wednesday morning to bright sunlight and abundant leaves still clinging to tree branches. While the mountains experienced some leaf loss along the high ridge lines and exposed areas, many of the trees that are just approaching peak color showed incredible resilience. Meteorologists are continuing to forecast excellent weather ahead for the...
Meadows

Meadows

Water droplets collect along the stems of a burning bush (Euonymus alatus) at Grandfather Mountain. (Photo by Kellen Short) While the bush is considered invasive in some parts of the United States, it’s hard to deny its autumn allure as the dark green leaves turn to vivid red in fall. Despite rain in the forecast for the High Country during the early part of this week, the second half of the week offers more opportunities for long-range views. Until then, take a moment to look closer at the stars of the fall spectacle. This week begins the final countdown...
Hampton’s General Store

Hampton’s General Store

A sugar maple shines in glorious gold and green outside the Old Hampton Store in Linville. (Photo by Skip Sickler). Because individual trees can vary in their leaf chemistry, sugar maples also can turn bright red or orange depending on their interaction with the environment. They’re also commonly used for production of maple syrup, as many connoisseurs consider them to have the most pleasing flavor of the maple...
Deer Habitat

Deer Habitat

A deer ambles through the animal habitat at grandfather Mountain as if admiring the autumn splendor around her. (Photo by Skip Sickler). In the High Country, residents are beginning to take note of another color change that signals the presence of fall: the transition of the deer’s fur from tan to gray. Grandfather Mountain continues its guided walk series, “The Colors of Grandfather,” at 1 p.m. today and Sunday. Staff naturalists will showcase the changing autumn colors and explain the science behind this annual spectacle. The program is included with regular park...
Grandfather Lake

Grandfather Lake

While fall color is reaching peak on the high-elevation ridges of Grandfather Mountain, the lower elevations around Grandfather Lake prove that they still need several more days to mature. (Photo by Skip Sickler). The Blue Ridge Parkway remains a beautiful drive this week, with more change now visible in the Boone area and toward Deep...
Camp Yonahnoka

Camp Yonahnoka

Fall colors dance on the edge of the lake at Camp Yonahnoka, just south of Grandfather Mountain in Linville. (Photo by Skip Sickler) Autumn color is peaking at the highest ridgelines and is now becoming more prevalent throughout all levels in the High Country. Northwestern North Carolina will be aflutter with activity this weekend, as Appalachian State University celebrates its Homecoming on Saturday and Sugar Mountain Resort holds its 23rd annual Oktoberfest all weekend long. The Boone Heritage Festival at Horn in the West is also set for Sunday, and the Todd New River Festival celebrates its 21st year...
Boone Fork Trail

Boone Fork Trail

A bridge over the Boone Fork Creek transports hikers to a wonderland of fall color along the Tanawha Trail outside Linville, N.C. (Photo by Skip Sickler) This area is accessible from the Boone Fork Parking Area on the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 300) and provides free, easy access to the Tanawha Trail, Daniel Boone Scout Trail, Nuwati Trail and Cragway Trail on Grandfather Mountain. Throughout the High Country, even the rhododendrons are getting in on fall color change. While these shrubs are generally considered evergreen, rhododendrons do drop older leaves periodically and add splashes of yellow to the colorful...
Linville Ridge

Linville Ridge

Fall color seeps from the upper reaches of Grandfather Mountain to areas below to create a picturesque scene in Linville. (Photo by Jim Morton) Overcast skies and morning fog in the valleys this week are creating a photographer’s dream in the High Country. Thursday’s weather forecast looks especially promising, with showers diminishing and highs in the upper...
Rough Ridge Overlook

Rough Ridge Overlook

The sun rises above the varied yellows, oranges and greens of Rough Ridge, off the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Photo by Skip Sickler) Brisk winds this weekend shook off just enough leaves in the High Country to create a satisfying crunch beneath hikers’ feet, but not enough to diminish the colorful hues at the higher elevations. The weekend’s cold snap should trigger to the many remaining green trees that the time has come to turn. Those planning to travel to Western North Carolina next weekend should mark their calendars for Oktoberfest at Sugar Mountain Resort on Oct. 11-12, a family-friendly...
Rough Ridge Overlook

Rough Ridge Overlook

A hiker gazes at the beauty from Rough Ridge, looking south toward the Linn Cove Viaduct and the peaks of Grandfather Mountain. (Photo by Skip Sickler) Those willing to brave the chill today should be rewarded with crisp, clear views from vantage points throughout the High Country as the leaves continue to transition. When conditions are right, visitors to Grandfather Mountain can sometimes make out the Charlotte skyline, about 80 miles away, with the naked...
Price Park Picnic Area

Price Park Picnic Area

Morning fog lifts to reveal shades of autumn color on the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Price Park Picnic Area at milepost 296.5. (Photo by Skip Sickler) The advent of October in the mountains brings a flurry of activity, including the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival today in North Wilkesboro and Tweetsie Railroad’s Ghost Train on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the month, with more activities to come later this...

The crimson leaves of the sourwood tree are among the most showy now visible in the High Country’s forests. (Photo by Skip Sickler) The species appears frequently on open slopes and ridges occupied by oaks and pines. Can’t tell a sourwood from a sweetgum? Join Grandfather Mountain naturalists for a guided walk series, “The Colors of Grandfather,” starting this weekend. At 1 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 19, staff will lead leaf-looking jaunts to showcase the glorious colors and share information, including tips for identifying trees. The programs are included with park...
Bass Lake

Bass Lake

Many maple trees surrounding Bass Lake in Blowing Rock, N.C., are beginning to shed their leaves, while others are still awaiting the shift to their autumn accoutrements. (Photo by Katie Casella) Bass Lake boasts views of the Moses Cone Manor from a nearly one-mile trail circling the lake, along with several additional carriage paths for walking, running and horseback riding. The lake is located off U.S. 221 about one mile from downtown Blowing...