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Fall Foliage Primer - September 27, 2017

 
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FALL COLOR UPDATE - September 27, 2017

Choose your report:
Valle Crucis/Boone • Asheville • Waynesville • Hendersonville • 
Greenville • Knoxville


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Valle Crucis/Boone, NC – It’s time for the countdown to the fall color show to begin. Every year, we gave a discussion about the color and if we think it’s starting early or not. As it turns out, it’s always right on time. This year, we haven’t had drought conditions, so the colors could be extra vibrant. Cool nights and warm, sunny days are a fall leaf-looker’s dream, and that’s what we’ve been having.

Right now, most of the color you’ll see are “outliers,” or we could refer to them as trendsetters. Sourwoods, with their vibrant reds, and dogwoods, with their deep crimson tones, are beginning to turn. You might also see some buckeyes turning an orange/yellow color before going to tan and then falling. I didn’t have a chance to head up to Grandfather this weekend, they are thinking their peak color might be next week because warm temperatures have slowed the change. There are many factors we have to consider, and predicting the color change isn’t an exact science. But, most assuredly, if you visit this weekend, you will see some color on the mountainsides.

The weather looks outstanding for the next several days – four and five golf balls, according to our friends at Booneweather.com. Highs should be in the 70s with lows in the mid-40s to mid-50s. You can always find an up-to-date forecast HERE.

If you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend, check Tweetsie’s Ghost Train. It’s in full swing on Friday and Saturday nights. On Thursday and Saturday, the Boone Film Festival takes center stage. Youth movies are shown on Thursday night at Watauga High School, and on Saturday, films celebrating Appalachian heritage, culture, and history are shown at the Schaefer Center on the ASU Campus. You can find more info HERE

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Asheville, NC - It's another fall here in Asheville, and even this early in autumn the colors are starting to appear. Temperatures will remain in the mid to lower 80s until the weekend, when we'll drop to the lower 70s. But higher temperatures in Asheville mean gorgeous weather for the Blue Ridge Parkway and other high elevation areas.  This is the ideal week for hikes on the Parkway with no prediction of rain and most days predicted to be mostly sunny. You can always check AshevilleWeather.com for an updated forecast.

If you want to catch the early fall colors travel south on the Parkway. Places like Graveyard Fields (milepost 418) are already covered in quite a bit of red and yellow leaves, and views of its famous waterfalls are beautiful when mixed with the fall color.  If you do decide to visit, be prepared for crowds and leave a lot of travel time, it is a very popular location.

Another alternative is Devil's Courthouse at milepost 422.2. While the color there isn't quite as pervasive, the juxtaposition between the changing deciduous trees and the many pines that fill the area is an amazing sight to see. The courthouse rises nearly 5,720 feet and gives panoramic views of three states. Even without a lot of color, it is a beautiful place to visit for anyone looking for flower or wildlife sightings. The courthouse is home to the Parkway's only pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons, so please be mindful when exploring the area. I had the opportunity to try this hike again and while short (only .5 miles) and paved, the steep trail provides a good workout and magnificent vistas.

If you're looking for places with fewer people, try the hikes off of Black Balsam Road. There are a number of hikes there that take you off the beaten path but afford some early views of fall color. The website HERE offers a more detailed look at these hikes and their highlights.

Other things to look for are fall wildflowers and a variety of fungi. Yellow Goldenrod and purple Asters are some of the many flowers blooming right now.  Check HERE for the Blue Ridge Parkway bloom guide to check if any of your favorites are in bloom.

For butterfly watchers, the Red-spotted Purple butterflies and Swallow Tails are some of our more common sightings. The famous Monarch migration will be fluttering past the southern parts of the Parkway in late September to early October.

While Asheville may not be in full bloom yet, some roads do have some color. Many roads heading toward the Parkway like Pisgah Highway (Hwy 151) are already showing a lot of color (as seen in my road picture).  While this may be the route I chose to take to the Parkway this week, there are many other ways to get to the Parkway and many that are just as scenic.

If you're staying in Asheville for the week there are a few big events happening during the weekend, one of which is Asheville Barnaroo.  Running from September 29-October 1, the 5th Annual Asheville Barnaroo will be at Franny's Farm in Leicester, NC. The event boasts many local and upcoming artists and has music from a variety of genres. For more information click HERE.

If you're interested in a family-friendly activity, the first Nature Festival will be happening at the Bywater on Riverside Drive. There will be a number of nature-inspired activities for all ages, as well as guest speakers talking about the Appalachian region as a whole. For more information check this LINK.

Now is a great time to enjoy the great outdoors and view the beginnings of our fall color season.  Head out to the Parkway or other great places in Asheville and prepare to have a great adventure. I hope to see you out there!

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Waynesville, NC - So now that autumn is officially here, nature has once again demanded not to be constrained by our calendar! Two weeks ago daytime temperatures in the low 70s seemed to scream that summer has ended; however, this week has taken a turn back to typical summer time highs in the upper 70s and even into the 80s! Hopefully, this short warming trend will delay the rapid change in leaf color to allow us more time to enjoy the transition from shades of green to those bright colors of yellow, orange and red! For the latest and a very accurate weather report for Waynesville don’t hesitate to check this reporting station, which is on top of the Mast Store.

On the outskirts of Waynesville is Lake Junaluska. If you hadn’t yet visited this exceptional spot, you’ll want to add it to your “must see” areas in Western North Carolina. A relatively flat 4-mile walking area circles the lake providing exceptional vistas, recreational options, a coffee stop in the bookstore, and many other amenities. For those desiring a shorter walk a bridge spans the center of the lake and provides a shorter walking option.

For a fun packed day you can hike around Lake Junaluska, have a bite to eat at any of the terrific restaurants in or around Waynesville, stroll down Main or Church Streets, and then top off your evening by participating in the September, 29th Friday night “Street Dance” from 6 to 9 p.m.!

Harvest season is here and numerous local fruit and vegetable stands populate the area. However, none may be better known then Barber Orchards Fruit Stand, where their own apples, pears, and vegetables are sold right from the tree, made into delicious bake goods, or into jams and jelly. Open for a few months of the year, now is the time to visit and don’t forget to try the Apple Cider donuts!

Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 30th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the campus of Western Carolina University when the 43rd Annual Mountain Day Heritage Festival will take place!!! This festival is a combination old-fashioned mountain fair and showcase for Southern Appalachian music, arts, dance and song, with the atmosphere of a big family reunion. Visitors will find three stages of traditional old-time, gospel, and bluegrass music and dance, with plenty of fiddles, banjos, and clogging. Festival-goers are invited to join in workshops at the Circle Tent and participate in shape-note singing, one of the mountains’ sacred traditions. Admission and parking are free, so bring your family and experience all that our rich heritage has to offer. 

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Hendersonville, NC - Summer is hiking up her skirts, dusting them off and exiting stage left to allow Fall to take the spotlight. And we are expecting an awesome show! The weather has been, and will continue to be, extraordinarily beautiful with cool nights in the 50s and 60s and warm days in the high 70s. It is the time of year to dress in layers that can be peeled off as the day progresses. To get a local weather forecast, click on over to Hendersonville Weather.

The first tinges of red on the maples and yellow on the tulip poplars are appearing in scattered areas around town. Right now to see the best color, take a leisurely stroll down Main Street to admire the plantings and trees just starting to show their colors. Don't forget to stop at Mast General Store to see our new line of fall clothes when you wander by.

On Saturday, September 30th and Sunday, October 1st Main Street will host Art on Main. It is a celebration of fine art and crafts by local artisans, as well as highly-qualified artists from the southeastern U.S. More than 75 booths will offer for sale paintings, works in clay, metal, wood, fiber, photography and jewelry. There will be live art demonstrations, too. Follow this LINK for more information. 

For all the birdwatchers out there, fall migration is in full swing and the city park in Hendersonville is a prime location to go bird watching. Jackson Park, right in the heart of downtown, is a migrant trap and has surprisingly diverse habitats to attract many varieties of birds. Don't forget to stop by Mast General Store, on Main Street, to load up on drinks, sunscreen, binoculars and bird identification guides before you go! For more information and a full bird list, click HERE

Apple orchards are offering apples, cider, pies, fritters and everything apple you can think of! This weekend will be perfect to visit your favorite orchard or find a new favorite! You can pick your own apples, or not, your choice. Most of the orchards have pumpkins, too, so don't forget October and Halloween are just around the corner. Here’s a LIST of orchards. 

Ah, the sights, sounds, and smells of Fall are here! Birds, squirrels and yes, even the occasional black bear have been sighted gorging on seeds and left over berries. The smell of burning leaves drifts through the air as the leaves tumble down from the trees. Take some time to enjoy it all.

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Greenville, SC - It’s hard to believe that Fall is here already! We are seeing only a small amount of color so far, but I’m sure that will change as we get further into the season.

Our Greenville weather is still very warm this week, but cooling down to the upper- to mid-70s by the weekend. Check out the forecast HERE

This week marks the conclusion of Greenville Heritage Main Street Fridays. This weekly music series showcases some wonderful bands, and includes a kids’ area with inflatables for complete family fun. It’s located just up the street a short distance from the front of the Mast Store.

Our TD Saturday Market continues through the end of October. This open-air market features everything from produce, fresh baked goods and fresh fish to amazing plants and handcrafted items. There is truly something for everyone – find out what you can find HERE.  If you wander about a bit, you’ll come upon cooking demonstrations and live music.

Whether you are an avid outdoor adventurer or searching for a new hobby, Venture Outdoors Day in neighboring Pickens has something for you! Free workshops will be held on a huge variety of activities, as well as a mountain bike race, 5k trail run and ½ marathon. Registrations are required, and all forms and information can be found at this LINK 

I’m very excited to be your Greenville Fall Foliage reporter this season!

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Knoxville, TN - I went on a hike yesterday morning to Andrews Bald and I wanted to report that FALL colors are hinting that they will arrive soon. The hike is less than 4 miles round trip and is of moderate difficulty. The trail head is located at the Clingmans Dome Parking Area.  

A brief note is that the Observation tower at Clingmans Dome is closed for rehabilitation, but the parking area and the trails remain open until December 1. That is the highest elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and one that sees multitudes of visitors.  

The crowds will be bearing down on that area of the park and traffic will be hard to avoid in the coming weeks. I would highly suggest those wanting to visit the higher elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to make plans to go before long.  Matter of fact, there is a guided hike for this trail on October 4th, if anybody is interested. Here’s a LINK to more information.

The foliage in and around Knoxville is still forecasted to peak toward mid to late October. There are still fun things to do in or outside during this time of year. If you are looking for some Fall activities around Knoxville, I would recommend the following:

Heading out to the Ijams Nature Center. They have a Creature Feature on Sunday, October 1 from noon until 12:30 p.m. that will get you up close and personal with some of their animal ambassadors.

The Monarch migration is in progress, and they are tagging them at Seven Islands State Birding Park, which is just a short drive from Downtown Knoxville. The event is set for September 30, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. You can learn more HERE

If you’re looking for a little music, head on over to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend, TN on October 6 to enjoy music by the Early Morning String Dusters. Admission is $8. 

National Public Lands Day at Norris Dam State Park is September 30. Volunteers will be helping clean up CCC Camp 494, which was active at Norris Dam in the 1930s. While you’re sprucing the place up, you’ll also be uncovering 80 years of history. Here’s where you can find MORE INFO

The weather looks to be just fine for about any activity you’d like to enjoy short of snowshoeing or cross country skiing. To get a forecast, click HERE.

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