I’m not sure where the entire summer of 2021 went, but Fall is creeping up real quick. In North Carolina, that means gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountain hiking, apple picking, and waterfalls. The Blue Ridge Parkway will be filled with cars to get optimal overlooks of all the leaves changing and to be completely immersed in the orange and red fall colors.
Growing up in NC, my family took annual trips to the Blue Ridge Parkway during peak fall foliage. It’s created lasting family memories that I will cherish forever and am looking forward to creating more with my own family. However, we’ve always stuck to the second or third weekend to go on our trip as rule for when to see peak fall colors. Now, and for the past decade, Smoky Mountains has created an interactive prediction map to help folks get the most out of their fall visits to the mountains. It’s also a nationwide map for planning fall foliage seeking trips all over the country!
According to an article through the Smithsonian, Smoky Mountains uses data like precipitation, temperature forecast, and daylight exposure from public sources like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to create their predictions. They have a lot of trust in their predictions and see them as quite accurate.
It’s county-by-county layout is super helpful when looking at the Blue Ridge Mountains to find the best location for the time you are able to go. With a 100 counties in NC, it can be difficult to pin down the area’s leaf change. Do remember that the leaves begin to change sooner at higher elevation. So, stay clear of areas on the Parkway that are higher if you’re looking for the iconic view of the colorful leaves taking over the Blue Ridge Mountains later in October. However, it would be a great time to see the foothills and west Piedmont area like Pilot Mountain State Park, Yadkin Valley Vineyards, or Uhwarrie National Forest.
In the Fall of 2020, we spent time in Ashe County for a family wedding and took the Blue Ridge Parkway south afterwards to hit up Linville Falls (pictured up top!).
However, most people hit the Falls Trail and can be quite crowded because it’s an easier trail. We hit the Gorge Trail and Duggers Creek Loop and only saw a handful of folks. The Gorge Trail is marked as strenuous, but we found it to be moderate in difficulty at best. The view was absolutely gorgeous with the fall foliage and we had the overlook all to ourselves. Both of these trails are very short (Gorge 1.4 miles and Duggers Creek is marked as a 20 minute walk) making this a perfect stop along the Parkway. Plunge Basin Trail comes to a great little creek, which was an obvious spot for our little adventurer to play.
Wherever you choose to go this fall, Smoky Mountains has created a great resource to help you plan your trip. Make time to slow down, enjoy the crisp, cool air, and bask in all the color that fall brings.
See y’all out there!