North Carolina is home to the Blue Ridge Mountains, a region that’s covered in trees with leaves that turn vibrant colors every fall. The turning of the leaves is a nature lover’s delight, and there’s no end to the unique locations for observing the changing of the season.
The following destinations provide an opportunity to see fall colors in a variety of settings that range from urban to mountain and a little of everything in between for the best viewing pleasure.
The area in and around Chimney Rock offers the opportunity to watch the color changes creep from the peaks to the valleys over time. The Blue Ridge Mountains are known for having a long color season in the fall, which means leaf peepers can return to the area to see how the leaf colors change over time. Try walking the Hickory Nut Falls Route for the best views of the trees in Chimney Rock.
Pilot Mountain State Park
Pilot Mountain State Park is a popular spot for outdoor activities that include biking, hiking, and mountain climbing.
The most popular attraction in the park is the namesake Pilot Mountain which offers unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape and makes for a perfect spot to view the fall colors. The peak is also handicap-accessible, which means just about everyone can enjoy the experience of fall colors from a high elevation.
Asheville’s focus on combining an urban setting with nature means the city blends nicely into the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains during the fall.
It’s also home to gems such as the North Carolina Arboretum, the French Broad River Park, and the Blue Ridge Parkway that offer urban dwellers the opportunity to enjoy fall colors without leaving the city.
Sugar Mountain is situated between Banner Elk and Grandfather Mountain, and is known for its incredible scenery and fall colors. It’s a great place for those who want to spend a day looking at fall colors and experiencing the beauty of the High Country. Make sure to go early in fall to get the most out of the colors as the leaves turn and drop quickly.
Table Rock looks out over the Linville Gorge and delivers incredible views of the trees and plants that cover the surrounding area. Getting to the summit requires hiking up a 1.1-mile trail that includes the occasional steep climb along the way. However, the summit is safe for exploration and offers multiple vantage points from which to view the fall colors.
The road to reach the trailhead is a 9.5-mile trip from Highway 181 and involves driving along an unpaved Pisgah National Forest road. It’s a bit of a challenge reaching the trailhead, and cars with a low clearance won’t make it through.
The Biltmore Estate is a shining example of the Gilded Age with its acres of landscaped lawns surrounding the house. The trees that line the expanses of manicured grass turn vivid colors during the fall and make a beautiful frame for the mansion. There are plenty of places to stop and take pictures from different angles to capture images of the best that the estate has to offer.
Blowing Rock is a picturesque town that’s named after the nearby formation known as The Blowing Rock. It’s also the oldest tourist attraction in North Carolina, and located near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Come to visit the shops in town, then head over to The Blowing Rock to view the fall foliage in the Johns River Gorge.
Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest
Looking Glass Falls is located right next to U.S. 276 and is considered the easiest waterfall to access in the state. Visitors can pull off the road into the parking area and take a short walk to view the waterfall. A set of steps lead down to the falls, and it’s safe to wade in the water. It’s a wonderful destination for people who want to experience the fall colors that the region is known for, but can’t reach some of the more mountainous destinations.
Little Switzerland looks a lot like its European counterpart with its mountainous terrain and rolling valleys dotted with green meadows. It’s a beautiful place year-round, but the trees explode with color as their leaves turn towards the end of October. The Blue Ridge Parkway offers the best views of the trees and the elevation changes deliver ever-changing views of the foliage.