The heavily forested hills and valleys of North Carolina are the home range of numerous species of deciduous trees that burst out in a startling array of colors each autumn. These magnificent colors attract visitors from near and far who flock to the region to enjoy leaf peeping at its finest.
Pisgah National Forest
The Appalachian Mountains in the Pisgah National Forest are home to some of the state’s most colorful fall scenery. Dramatic rock outcroppings stand out from the slopes like islands in a sea of orange, yellow, and red when the autumn brings changing color. Go for a hike along one of the many trails that wind through the forest, and watch as falling leaves drift down the streams and waterfalls that run through the forest. The Pisgah National Forest is easily accessible by taking the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs through thousands of acres of old growth forest. For an incredible view of the extensive forests, climb Table Rock, which stands nearly 4,000 feet above sea level and boasts commanding views of the rocky Linville Gorge and surrounding countryside.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is famous the world over for the plentiful and diverse population of deciduous trees that put on a spectacular show each fall. The National Forest Service keeps tabs on the changing colors, updating its website to let prospective visitors know when they will be able to witness the full color of autumn in the Smoky Mountains. The changing color varies from species to species and with elevation changes in the park’s rugged landscapes, providing a window for viewing colors that begins as early as the first weeks of September and stretches on past Thanksgiving. Tour the park by automobile to cover the most territory, or take one of the many day hikes on the park’s well-maintained system of trails. For those who wish to surround themselves in the beauty of the park in fall, primitive camping is also available.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a winding asphalt treasure that winds its way through its namesake mountain range and offers leaf peepers an excellent way to view North Carolina’s scenic fall beauty. Motorcyclists and motorists both flock to this roadway in numbers during the fall season to meander along its curvy path, flanked by a riot of fall colors. Nearby scenic turnouts afford excellent views of the city of Asheville, sitting amidst a forest in full fall regalia. Explore nearby Little Switzerland, a charming mountain town dotted with turning trees that offers splendid views of Table Rock and Grandfather Mountain.
There are many spots in North Carolina where sightseers can take in the color, from famous roadways to national parks, from rural settings to the downtowns of some of the state’s urban centers. Head out to any one of these spots to enjoy the change of the seasons and its accompanying array of scarlet, gold, and orange foliage.