Fall Photo: October 1, 2016

Welcome to our Daily Fall Photo posts!

For our first daily post, we headed up to the area around Grandfather Mountain, which is always among the first places to show fall color. The peak of Grandfather Mountain is right around 6000 feet, so color generally begins there first and works down through the lower elevations.  Up until the last couple of days, the weather was quite warm, so area fall foliage has been a bit stalled. A cold front came in behind the recent rain, however, and that kind of sunny, cool weather is exactly the type that will accelerate fall color.

Today, most of the seasonal red and yellow in the area is still patchy, even on Grandfather Mountain. There doesn’t seem to be much sweeping change yet, which means there is still time to get up here and see the autumn colors. Because of the cooler temperatures, we will start seeing more change every day.

Beacon Heights, an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway by Grandfather Mountain, has a great hike to a cliffside view. The trees often change early on that slope, so we headed out on the trail to see how that change was coming along. Today’s photo shows some trees right on the overlook that have already started showing vibrant color, while the peaks and valleys below are still green. It’s a good example of the state of color in the area: a few pops here and there among surrounding green. 

fall color at Beacon Heights on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Beacon Heights Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway
Elevation 4370 feet

This particular view is found at the end of the 0.6 mile trail from the parking area. These ladies were kind enough to let us take their picture while they enjoyed long-range views of Grandmother, Hawksbill, and Pilot Mountains. The Beacon Heights trail offers gorgeous views, and the traffic is often less intense than at more popular trails on the Parkway. It’s highly recommended. We do want to note that this level of color isn’t yet common at 4300 feet. This particular spot must have ideal exposure for fall color, as it’s among the first places each year to show vibrant foliage. Exposure, along with elevation and weather conditions, has a big impact on the rate of foliage change. Beacon Heights is at milepost 305.2 on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Blowing Rock is around milepost 295).

Click here see a Fall Color Map that shows predictive peak times, posted on Appalachian State University’s website. It shows how much color progression can vary, especially in the area around Blowing Rock.

The slopes of Grandfather Mountain are just starting to gain an autumn blush. This is the view from the parking area at Beacon Heights Overlook.

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