It has started. The fall leaf change has begun in the Smoky Mountains.
It’s confined to the highest elevations at this point. Nearly all these photos are above 5000 feet.
As it’s mostly confined to the highest areas, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best spots to observe the emerging color. With the leaves also comes increased traffic.
You’ll find some nice color around Mt. Mitchell State Park along the parkway. It’s the highest mountain in the east. Craggy Gardens is mostly disappointing right now. It has no big trees and the leaves are gone from the low brush. Things will improve as the color spreads down the slopes it overlooks.
There’s some decent color just north of Asheville, but most of these photos are taken on the best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway – south of Asheville. It’s the highest and most scenic.
Things will probably peak up high next weekend or so. Not to worry, the show moves down the slopes once the high parts are done. There’s still a lot of green.
Living here you can see the change every day. It’s amazing how fast this all seems to happen.
We had a cold snap that set things off – 3 inches of snow on Mt. Leconte in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Recently, it’s been unusually warm. Temperatures in the 70’s today, you couldn’t ask for better motorcycle riding weather.
Motorcycles are everywhere. This warm weather won’t last. Be sure to pack some warm gear. Mornings will get frosty again soon.
Enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway now. When you tire of the crowds and congestion, get out on some of the great back roads which surround it. I’ve mapped more than 3000 miles of them and am still finding more.
UPDATE – here are a few more photos from today. We did a little hike out to one of our favorite panoramic spots on a 6000 foot bald this morning.
We know the colors come in first at the high points. Max Patch is just across the North Carolina border in Tennessee. On a clear day like today, it was a good time to go see the start of the leaf show.
It’s a magic time in the Smoky Mountains and I’ll be out riding as much as I can over the next few weeks. I’ll do my best to slow down and snap a photo or two to share now and then, but somehow the colors just make the great motorcycle rides all that more fun. It’s hard to stop.
I hope you’ve made plans for a visit. If not, add this to your list for next year. You’ve got to plan ahead for lodging and such during leaf season. The rides are always there and are just as enjoyable in the spring and summer. If you’re hard core like me, it’s a year round passion. Hope you’ve enjoyed these pics, and with luck I’ll have more soon.
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com