Blog » Fall Foliage
I adore fall. I get giddy watching the leaves change color, then fall off. Part of my excitement stems from the fact that I grew up in very warm, tropical climates where the only seasons are dry and rainy.
This year, we wanted to enjoy the splendor of fall, so we decided to take a trip to the mountains—more specifically, the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic highway which extends 469 miles between Virginia and North Carolina. It’s a two-lane highway with a speed limit of 45 and sometimes 35 mph. If you love natural beauty, then you’ll love the BRP, as there are many lookout areas to stop and take in the environment.
I’ve read it can take up to 10 days to explore the entire parkway. Since we only had one, our plan was simple: Drive to the Parkway, look at leaves, and hike to one of the many area waterfalls. We accessed the Parkway from Asheville—approximately 2.5 hours from Charlotte.
I highly suggest stopping at one of the Parkway’s visitor centers for a map and suggestions on the best places to see foliage. We originally planned on visiting Graveyard Fields Falls; however, the gentleman at the Visitor Center suggested Crabtree Falls for foliage late in October. The leaves are heading ‘downwards,’ so at the higher elevations, most of the color is already gone.
Crabtree Falls was about 40 miles from the visitor center. It took us over 2 hours to get there as we stopped frequently. The drive was breathtaking as we saw the entire gamut of fall, from the leaves just starting to turn (lower elevations on the way up), full-color bloom (mid-elevations), and then, the barren grayish hue of leafless tress (higher elevations).
In the higher elevations—over 5,000 ft.— ice was even already forming on the side of the road!
We passed the exit for Mount Mitchell State Park—the highest point east of the Mississippi River, at 6684 ft. Perhaps on our next trip, we’ll visit the park.
I packed a picnic basket for the trip so we could enjoy a meal outdoors. Along with lots of water, we enjoyed turkey sandwiches, homemade pumpkin bread (I made the night before), and cinnamon cranberry goat cheese with crackers.
There is a picnic area at Crabtree Falls, as well as picnic tables at the visitor center. It took about 2 hours to hike to the falls and back—round trip a little over two miles. (We were one of the slower ones on the trail with younger children.)
It’s wonderful having the mountains and waterfalls in our backyard and well worth a trip, even if it’s only for a day.
Are there any special places you like to visit on the Blue Ridge Parkway?