The peak of fall color is generally in late October for Asheville. However, we’re lucky that it actually starts to feel like fall on the Autumnal Equinox, which means that some of us want to see the leaves changing before late October. We also like avoiding the crowds of peak season.
To catch the show early, head up into the mountains.
I just love driving south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Crossing over the French Broad, winding around the curvy road and passing by some of the best overlooks. On this early fall morning, we’re heading to Graveyard Fields and Black Balsam Knob.
The earlier in the morning your adventure begins, the better. The fog is still lifting and almost every overlook is worth stopping at as sun rays pierce through the white clouds.
Graveyard Fields is a popular hiking spot because you can take a quick walk to the lower falls on a paved path. By noon, the place is full. We’re hiking a bit further than the paved areas to reach the Upper Falls (about 3 miles round trip) and you really have to want it after all this rain. Mud. Mud. Mud.
There’s lots of makeshift trailblazing to avoid knee-deep mud puddles. Otherwise, this is a mild hike with plenty of connecting boardwalks.
After saying hello to plenty of other hikers at Graveyard Fields, it’s time to hit a lesser known spot down the road. Drive 1 mile south and turn right at the Black Balsam Knob sign. Grab a street parking spot. Walk through the forest on the same side of the road and find the trailhead to your left.
Climb on up.
The peak of Black Balsam Knob has 360 views. And considerably less people. We only see two others hike by the entire time (going on a weekday helps too). My favorite scene is the endless rows of Evergreen trees. You get to enjoy them year round and they’re the perfect shade of green.
These high elevation mountain tops are dotted with warm colors, getting into the October spirit. By the end of this month, the colors will fill up the Asheville area. This is such a popular time of year, be sure to get out there and enjoy it your own way. A picnic in your yard, a walk with your dog or climbing up to a mountain bald, it’s time to breathe in the fall air. Let’s go.
Chelsea - lover of outdoor adventure, local goodness and, of course, autumn.
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