Fall Foliage Update for the Mountains – October 15, 2012

Story by Mike Doble – [email protected]  

I could sum up the current status of where things stand regardless peak Autumn color for MOST of the mountains of the region in TWO WORDS – "NOT YET".

I was at the Sugar Mountain Oktoberfest both on Saturday and Sunday and while there was a lot of very pretty color on display – there’s STILL quite a lot of green leaves hanging from the trees. I was speaking with Len Bauer (who has been at Sugar for 30+ years) and he shared, "Yea, this is a late fall as far as the trees are concerned. It looks like we have another week or so before peak color will be here."

The forecast for Monday evening at the highest elevations from Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia – down through the Appalachian’s is for colder air tonight and then milder temps for this time of year for the remainder of the week. Temps should dip to about 37° or so for most of the higher elevations – with the lowest up around Snowshoe where they are expected to see 31°.

<Click to see enlarged image near Blowing Rock from this week.

Those cooler temperatures and mostly sunny days SHOULD kick the "Autumn Color Machine" up a notch and get us to near peak color by this weekend’s festivals and fun. The long range forecast is calling for Sunny Skies this weekend across most of the region with highs in the low to mid 50s and lows in the mid to upper 30s and that – my friends – spell PEFECT FALL weather for this weekends, Valle Fair and the 35th Annual Woolly Worm Festival! ASU will be hosting Wofford for this weekend as well, so that combined with peak fall color leaf gawkers should spell a BUSY WEEKEND for the High Country of Western North Carolina.

We’ll talk Woolly Worm Fun a little more on Wednesday or Thursday but suffice to say that it’s a LOT of fun and along with Woolly Worm races (where you can win $1000) and great food, crafts and more comes a well timed, peak color weekend for those of you who want to come to the mountains and enjoy the color of the mountains.


Peak (75-100% change)
Most trees are in full color. Deep reds and bright yellows prevail. Very little green vegetation remains. A few trees have yet to reach peak, but are showing very bright, well developed colors. These trees will peak very quickly. As mentioned before Snowshoe Mountain in Pocahontas County is AT PEAK or a little past peak color but with tons of nice color and views of that great color in the valleys below.


Near Peak (50-75% change)
As much as half the vegetation has changed color. In the earlier changing trees, the colors are bright. Late-changing trees remain primarily green. It looks like areas around the Blue Ridge Parkway is STILL about 7-10 days away from peak color. Ditto that for the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.


Peak (60-100% change)
<Color was near peak around the foot of Beech Mountain and Banner Elkk – click here for larger image!

About a third of the trees are in full color. We’re seeing mostly bright orange, gold and some rustic reds. Not a lot of brilliant red this season. A fair amount of green vegetation remains. A fair amount of trees have yet to reach peak, but are showing very bright, well developed colors. Beech Mountain, Grandfather and areas around Mount Mitchell at just PAST PEAK, but most of the elevations around 4000′ are beautiful right now and the areas a little lower around Banner Elk and Valle Crucis should be at peak later this week into the weekend.

Some areas around the foot of Grandfather Mountain as you approach the Blue Ridge Parkway were near peak this past week, and they should be looking PERFECT right now and should last through this week as well.

We’ve shared some of the images from this past few days below. Enjoy and check back. By the way, please share this website with your friends who love the mountains! Also we invite you to send us any images that YOU take and we’ll post the up.

Email me at [email protected]

Photo taken October 13th at the foot of Beech Mountain by staff photographer. Undoctored image shows tons of GOLDS on the left side of the image and still some green to turn on the right. This peaceful pathway is just off of Hwy 194 in Banner Elk.


Photo from the foot of Beech Mountain on Saturday. Lots and lots of GOLD! Click image for an
even larger photo!

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October 20th Fall Foliage Report for the Southeast and Mid Atlantic Mountains
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