4 Great Places to See Leaves (Fall Foliage) in Western North Carolina
The Fall Beauty of North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains is Hard to Beat
As a North Carolina resident, I have had the opportunity
to visit North Carolina’s mountains on a number of occasions. The views are
absolutely incredible and it helps that the Appalachian Mountains are easily
accessible from major cities in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
like Asheville, Greensboro, Greenville, Charlotte, and Columbia. I hope you
will find the following an easy to understand guide to finding amazing fall
foliage in North Carolina.
Many of the best views are located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic highway that cuts along the ridge of most of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and parts in Virginia.
Below are four different locations which I believe are the some of best places to view the fall leaves in North Carolina. Along with each site are web links that will help in providing more information such as directions, facilities, etc...
1. Craggy Gardens – Located near mile post 364 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A short drive (marked by signs) takes you off the Parkway and up to a gorgeous outlook with a nice picnic area and some trails. The view is breath taking. At 5,500 feet of elevation, you are really “up there” and have a great view of surrounding peaks and valleys, which are almost completely covered in trees.
Sites with more details:
2. The Pisgah Inn/Mt. Pisgah – You don’t have to stay overnight here to enjoy the incredible views (although you can). Located on Mt. Pisgah and in the Pisgah National Forest, the Pisgah Inn and surrounding area is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The Pisgah Inn provides lodging, but also has a wonderful restaurant that is open to the public. The Inn is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway near mile marker 409. One of the links below provides information on a trail that climbs to the top of the 5,721 foot summit of Mt. Pisgah.
Sites with more details:
The Pisgah Inn
The Beauty of Fall Leaves
More Great Places to See Fall Leaves
3. Montreat, NC – Home to a PCUSA conference and retreat center and Montreat College, a four year private liberal arts school, Montreat is a cozy little community tucked away in a small bowl-like valley. Upon arriving in Montreat it is easy to feel at home. Visitors and residents alike are greeted at the town’s only entrance which features a early 20th century stone gateway that arches above the small two-lane road leading into the town (this is known to most of the locals as “the gate”). If you follow up the main road (Assembly Dr.) you will come into the “center of town” where a picturesque lake, called Lake Susan, separates the main parts of the Conference Center and college campuses. Just from standing at the lake you can see incredible views of the mountains which nearly surround the town in a wonderful 360 panorama. The heavily forested mountains yield quite a spectacular sight, especially when leaves change. From the lake you can continue up several different roads that lead to various trailheads. Trails around Montreat climb many of the surrounding mountains as well as run along some of the ridges visible from Lake Susan. One particular hike takes you up to the summit of Graybeard Mountain, which sits at 5,240 feet, is the highest peak directly surrounding Montreat.
For information on the Graybeard Trail click here.
For information on the Conference Center click here. (you can visit this site to get address info. The Main conference center looks directly out on Lake Susan and Assembly Dr.)
For information on Montreat College click here.
4. Clingmans Dome – Located right on the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, Clingmans Dome Mountain is located within the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. It stands at 6,643 feet, just 39 feet short of Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Clingmans Dome Road connects to US highway 441, a major road going through the Smoky Mountains. The view from the top is awesome and while many of the trees around Clingmans Dome are coniferous spruce trees, views from the summit can reach 100 miles on a good day allowing you to see beyond the climate and vegetation of the peak itself. As a disclaimer, it is important to note that views are often cut short by clouds, fog, and smog. Even with these in consideration, however, you can still see a long way. Also note that all of the above locations are in the mountains and can get much colder than other areas of North Carolina. Be sure to plan ahead and be prepared!
Sites with more details:
Fall foliage in North Carolina is amazing in many different places, but this should be able to aid in pinpointing some specific sights. My hope is these ideas might help you in planning a trip or vacation to the North Carolina mountains or assist you in your quest to see the amazing beauty of fall colors over a mountain landscape.