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 come.