We’ve been getting A LOT of inquiries about the Fall Colors and "YES" Autumn’s brilliant display has begun…depending on where you are! (For a complete "tour" of the mountains of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, read on as we cover the mountains from North Carolina to Maryland.)
I love this time of year! The narrow roads within my neighborhood become a patchwork of black-top, covered by an layer of assorted colored leaves. You get the feeling that you’re in an automobile commercial – you know, one of those where you see the leaves flying as the car takes the switchback turns.
I was telling someone the other day that Fall just hits hard and fast here in the mountains. We had a warm Summer and enjoyed many weekends cruising beautiful Watauga Lake. Then we missed ONE WEEKEND of hitting the water in mid-September and by the next weekend the crisp air of Autumn invaded. There was no warning…just WHAM and the nights turned chilly enough to run the gas fireplace to knock off the chill. Actually a few mornings I woke up and didn’t want to crawl out of bed it was so cold!
As if my magic, the leaves began to show signs that Fall was quickly on it’s way. A few Sugar Maples burst into color in mid-to-late September. On my morning drives into work I noticed some faint orange and red "tint" to the ridgetops. …and then last weekend, suddenly it was just MUCH more colorful! We’re still probably two weeks away from peak in most areas, but some regions are at or near peak right now! I was up on top of Sugar Mountain on Tuesday and the trees up top are already brilliant! As you take the drive down Grousemoor the drop in elevation creates a huge difference in color as the lower portion of Sugar is still patchy (about 1-2 weeks away from peak color).
Later on Tuesday I was up at Beech Mountain and the color up there is quickly getting to peak – maybe a week away. The rest of the High Country of Western North Carolina varies from SOME patchy color to brilliance! The best way to summarize the "Fall Leaf Update" is that MOST of the High Country is still a bit spotty, but the colors are coming on fast! I suspect peak colors will fall right on the "normal" dates around mid October.
NOTE: The LIVE CAMS are showing some nice color. We re-activated the Extreme Snowboard and Ski (Sugar Mountain) CAM and it’s showing some nice color on the mountain. Be sure to check out that camera early as by around 1pm it gets washed out in the sunlight. The new Main Street Blowing Rock Camera is showing some nice color around the park, and of course the Chetola Lake Cam (Blowing Rock Road) is pretty sweet. Check out ALL of those cameras and more at www.HighCountryWebCams.com. We are adding a few more cams within this month, so expect only better and better views!
We will begin separating all of our North Carolina and Southeastern ski areas data soon, but for this update on Fall Colors we wanted to make sure that fans of all of the ski areas and mountains of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic received this compiled update on the Fall Colors.
NORTH CAROLINA – Overall we are goiong to say that things are approaching (30-50% near peak). As much as half the vegetation has changed color. In the earlier changing trees, the colors are bright. Late-changing trees remain primarily green.
High Country of Western North Carolina
(We’ve pretty much provided that update above. You might also want to check out the colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain. Moses Cone over at Blowing Rock is also providing some nice color at this time. (STILL ABOUT 1-2 weeks from peak, except up on Grandfather!) Overall, there are some trees in the valleys that are displaying good color, but for the most part mountainsides are still sporadic, but are making noticeable additions to their color display daily.
Hendersonville Area (Thanks to our friends at Cummings Cove and Laurel Ridge!)
About a week ago the area saw some pretty cool weather and although is was short lived, it did begin producing some early color. Most years the Hendersonville area is about 1-2 weeks behind the higher elevations of the High Country (Banner Elk). According to our client contacts over there, they are expecting highs in the upper 70s and lows in the 50° range…so color MAY be slow to burst out. (For you botanist out there – we KNOW that the shorter days and reduced sunlight is the main "trigger" to color…but the cold air sure seems to bring it on!) In summary, Hendersonville has some nice pockets of early color…but may be 2-3 weeks away from peak.
Waynesville, North Carolina Area
With elevations at around 3600 feet, they are getting some slight color. Sourwood trees and Sugar Maples are showing some spots of beautiful color, and while there are pockets of reds and crimson berries, etc… the Waynesville area is still a couple of weeks away from peak color.
Maggie Valley, NC (Home to Cataloochee Ski Area)
Some of the highest elevations near the ski area are already showing some very nice color. At lower elevations things are about 50% changed and there’s still quite a lot of green. Expect peak color in another 1-3 weeks.
TENNESSEE – We’re going to summarize by saying that most of east Tennessee is still showing patchy color. There is some clearly defined color changes that can be seen, but they are not yet at their brightest. About three fourths of the foliage is still in green. Areas around Gatlinburg are showing a bit more color, but they are probably at 20-30% changed and still 1-3 weeks away from peak color.
The Smokies are showing some nice variances driving 441 from Cherokee to Gatlinburg. Higher elevations are showing brilliance among the earlier turning trees, but still a couple of weeks away from peal brilliance.
VIRGINIA – Most areas around the East Central, Blue Ridge Parkway areas are about 10-30% changed and as with East Tennessee, while some clearly defined color changes can be seen, they are not yet at their brightest. About three fourths of the foliage is still in green.
Our friends up at Wintergreen verify that they are showing some nice color, but still patchy in most areas. If you get a chance you owe it to yourself to visit Wintergreen, spanning 11,000 acres on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge. This time of year there is nothing like taking in the Fall colors on horseback or while riding a golf cart! They are located in the heart of Central Virginia, bordering the Blue Ridge Parkway and minutes from Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. (You Civil War buffs – Wintergreen is only a short drive away!)
WEST VIRGINIA – Much like our higher elevations in Western North Carolina – the mountains around Snowshoe in West Virginia are showing some very nice color. That area and most of East and Northern Central West Virginia are nearing peak color. We’ll say 30-50% changed and as much as half the vegetation has changed color. In the earlier changing trees, the colors are bright. Late-changing trees remain primarily green.
Andrea Smith of Snowshoe Mountain wrote us, "The Autumn leaves are at peak here in the Southern portion of the Allegheny Mountains. The hillsides appear to be painted with the brilliant oranges, reds and yellows that signify fall in Pocahontas County."
This is a great time to mention that Snowshoe will be hosting their "Oktoberfest" festivities in mid-October. Join Snowshoe Mountain and a few hundred of your newest friends for a traditional Oktoberfest Celebration. Enjoy a hearty German meal served family style and great beers such as Harpoon Oktoberfest and Ayinger Oktoberfest all accompanied by live oompah music performed by Die Glucklichen Musiker – which is German for The Happy Musicians.
Snowshoe’s Oktoberfest Celebration takes place from 5pm – 9pm on Saturday, Oktober 14. Music and drinking will be begin at 5pm with dinner served at 6pm.
The menu for the Oktoberfest Celebration is: Potato Pancakes, Peppered Bavarian Cole Slaw, Gurkensalat, Roasted Pork Loin served with Caraway Infused Sauerkraut and Pan Gravy, Grilled Knockwurst and Bratwurst simmerd in Bock Beer sereve with Coarse Ground Mustard, Hot German Potato Salad, Braised Red Cabbage with Pears and Apple Strudel.
Tickets are $35 per adult and $15 per child age 12 and under. Advance tickets are recommended as space is limited.
Purchase your advance tickets today! Call 877-441-4FUN for tickets and more information.
It’s safe to add that the higher elevations are quickly nearing peak color, while some of the regions around Winterplace Resort are still at 30-50% color. Canaan Valley, Timberline and Whitegrass are showing a bit more color, but still a week away…or so.
WISP RESORT IN MARYLAND – It’s safe to say that they are showing some nice color – though only about 30-50% changed around Wisp Resort in McHenry Maryland. We checked out the webcams there and they are showing some nice color at the top of the ridges, but still a lot of green left. Some clearly defined color changes can be seen, but they are not yet at their brightest. About three fourths of the foliage is still in green. Expect peak colors to come in within the next 1-2 weeks or so.
So that’s it for now! If you have a trip planned for this weekend…you’re in for some nice color…and depending on your destination you’ll see a great "show" of 20-50% of peak! Take in some horseback riding (Visit www.HighCountryHorseback.com) or hiking trails – visit www.HighCountryOutdoors.com or just take a nice drive in the mountains of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Until Next Time…
Drop me an email with any photos of updates of your own! Email us at mail@skiSoutheast.com