WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Fall color coming early to NC mountains

Posted September 23, 2013

The area around Grandfather Mountain peaked in early October 2012 down to about 4,000 feet  (Photo by Monty Combs)

If the 7-day forecast holds, it’s going to be a beautiful weekend in the mountains!

One of the fall treats in North Carolina is the beautiful changing leaves. Even though we’ll eventually see those gorgeous colors here in central NC, the mountains show them off best. It’s a very popular time to head up to the hills, so if you are planning to go this year, make lodging reservations quickly.

Scientists at Appalachian State University create a nice leaf forecast. They are expecting leaves to turn a little earlier than last year. It looks like the northern mountains from Linville northward will see the best color the first week in October. The areas from Asheville southward are likely to see peak color the second and third week in October.

Color begins in the highest elevations first, and then spreads down the mountains as October continues. It’s hard to go wrong in mid-October.

If you are going early you’ll want to seek out elevations of 4,000 to 5,000 feet. If you are going toward the end of the month, you’ll want to head for 1,000 to 2,000 feet to see the prettiest leaves.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best roads to drive to do some leaf peeping.

If you are in the Boone area, don’t miss the Linn Cove Viaduct which takes the parkway along the flanks of Grandfather Mountain. You’ll want to hit this area in the early part of October.

If you are heading to the Asheville area around mid-October, don’t miss Craggy Gardens which is about 30 miles north of Asheville on the Parkway. There is a short hike to a rock outcropping with 360-degree views. Breathtaking!

There is just a little color in the mountains this week. Keep checking back and I’ll update the blog about once a week and let you know where the color is reaching peak.

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  • common tater Sep 27, 3:10 p.m.

    Was hoping they would peak later. From reading online it seemed the weekend of Oct 25th might be good for the area we're going to (Bryson City)...now not so sure. Guess the group won't depend on me to set the date next time.