Elliot Mountain offers Last Colors of Autumn

By the middle of November, most bright fall colors along the Blue Ridge have faded to brown, and any hope of still finding Maples and Hickories with their signature orange, red, and yellow displays are all but gone.  That is, unless experience over the years tells you where to look, even when most “leaf peepers” have given up, and gone home. One of those rare places can be found in the southern McDowell County mountains, along the southern slopes of 2,100 foot Elliot Mountain in particular. For whatever reason, the Maples and Hickories change late on this obscure  set of ridges along the eastern slopes of 3,200 foot Hickory Nut Mountain. Even though this year was not the best for color anywhere in this district twenty-five miles east of Asheville, Elliot Mountain was the exception. The elevation of this color is between 1,600 and 1,700 feet. 

Here are images that show what I mean.

Elliot Mountain southern viewDistant Tryon Mountain along the South Carolina border.

Elliot Mountain East viewEast view toward Rich and Pinnacle Mountains.

Elliot Mountain Hickories

Elliot Mountain Maples

Elliot Mountain Maple and Pines

Elliot Mountain Laurel Valley log cabinSeven beautiful cabins have been built along a road called Laurel Valley Drive.

Elliot Mountain Burning Bush and MapleBurning Bush and Maple with ornamental Cypress.

Elliot Mountain Maple colorThese Maples change from their summer green, to yellow, to orange, and finally to a bright red.

Elliot Mountain Maple and Cadillac

Here is a video I made five years ago on November 10th, 2012. That year, the colors were the most spectacular I’ve seen yet.  Year to year, you just never know…


Rare Pink Foliage along the Blue Ridge

This is one of my favorite posts. Never seen anything like it. I was there again yesterday, and although the peak color had passed already, the scene, below,  was still one of beauty…

pink foliage at Gerton and Hickory Creek

Living in The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina- A Blog

Finding any truly pick autumn leaves is a rarity, but to find an entire forest of them is the Holy Grail of Leaf Peeping. On Sunday, while driving to Bearwallow Mountain along U.S. 74-A between Chimney Rock and Asheville, suddenly there they were. For over a quarter mile, the forest undergrowth was nothing but bushes covered with delicate pink and white leaves. I had never seen anything like it. Because I had company in the car, and because the hour was getting late, I didn’t stop, but this morning, I headed back up toward the crest of the Blue Ridge about a mile east of Gerton to document what I had found.  As I reached the 2,300 foot elevation, there it was, the pink forest.

Best Pink Leaves
I’ve researched the entire list of North Carolina shrubs and trees, but I have not been able to identify the plant that produces these remarkable…

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Dramatic Color in South McDowell County

Located along the McDowell, Rutherford, county live is a rural area known mostly for raising prized Black Angus cattle, and high protein hay. The small communities of Montford Cove and Sugar Hill are sparsely populated, and possess no state or national land or parks. What they do have are large tracks of hardwood forests and dramatic mountains that surround 3,000 foot Hickory Nut Mountain and its smaller surrounding peaks. The second week of November seems to always be the best time for color, and even with a late fall this year along the Blue Ridge escarpment, the area remains true to form.

For five days now, steady light rain and a persistent fog have enshrouded these valleys and ridges with a welcome wetness that was missing last year, leading to numerous wildfires. Although the brightest hues come with sunlight and blue skies, saturated color is more intense when everything is wet, and personally, I think autumn is more dramatic when this occurs.

Along Sugar Hill-Old Fort Road, this effect couldn’t have been more intense than what I found yesterday.

Sugar Hill Black Angus pasture

sugar hill old fort road color

sugar Hill old fort road bambooThe bright green of Carolina Bamboo really sets off the vibrant display heading west.

sugar hill old fort road Cadillac

Midway between Sugar Hill and the town of Old Fort is a once popular trout pond known at Midway Lakes. The orange of the Bald Cypress contrasts beautifully with the Maples and Hickories along the pond’s banks.sugar hill old fort road midway lakes

bald cypress at midway lakes

Heading back to the east, you’ll find Mud Cut Road that connects Sugar Hill Road with U.S. Highway 221. It’s an old, winding road that passes churches and graveyards, and more Black Angus pastures. The Sugar Maples occupy one specific area, and always offer an eye popping display of reds, yellows, and oranges.mud cut road Maples

mud cut road maples in fall

This lone Sumac was the brightest of all…mud cut road sumac

This Japanese Holly was ready for the holiday season…Japanese holly

Along Montford Cove Road on the way back into Rutherford County is a Carp fishing pond known as Woody’s Lakes. Surrounded by large Bradford Pears, these trees turn a series of yellow, orange, and red, as the cold weather of mid-November sets in.Bradford Pear at Woody's Lakes

bradford pear and Woody's Lakes

Arriving back home with a steady drizzle still falling, I found this Poison Ivy vine growing under my window, and marveled at the variety of color coming from such a maligned plant.poison ivy window 2




Halloween at the Grove Park Inn

What better place in these Blue Ridge Mountains to welcome All Hallows Eve than the historic Grove Park Inn. Fires were burning in the giant double lobby fireplaces, and the colors of fall were spreading across the golf course below. Sunset from the Veranda is always and event, and this one, though subtle, didn’t disappoint.

Grove park inn sunset

People always gather together to enjoy the nightly spectacle…grove park inn veranda people

The only thing missing was the wine….Grove Park Inn wine glass

Inside the spacious lobby, you could feel the heat of the fires from far away…grove park inn fireplace

Music from a live combo made for a relaxing atmosphere…grove park inn lobby lights

Locally quarried rock walls surround you…grove park inn windows

A visit to Asheville without a stop at the Grove Park is out of the question…grove park inn lobby lanterns




U.S. Highway 221 below Linn Cove Viaduct

Cruising along the lesser traveled U.S. 221 below the Blue Ridge Parkway and the iconic Linn Cove Viaduct at Grandfather Mountain is a very different experience this time of year from the congestion of the Parkway. Boulders, waterfalls, and overhanging tree limbs offer a more natural drive, with tighter curves and rougher pavement. The colors for late October were more vibrant than I remember from past seasons. When most of the Mountains are having less color coming later than normal, this area is surprisingly beautiful. The reds and oranges are especially bright.  This video will give you just a hint at the beauty….

Make sure you click on the blue headline to go straight to the site to see the video…

Blue Ridge Parkway East View

Blue Ridge Parkway MaplesBlue Ridge Parkway

US 221 BoulderU.S. 221

Autumn Caddy Blue Ridge Parkway

US 221 Grandfather Mountain AutumnGrandfather Mountain

Linn Cove Viaduct Viaduct U.S. 221Linn Cove Viaduct



Cruising Down Asheville’s Sunset Mountain

This time of year is always the perfect time to visit Asheville’s most unusual neighborhood, Sunset Mountain. Here are a few views that I thought you might appreciate. The homes on the mountain are perched precariously along the steep slopes, and are connected by quaint single lane roads that wind their way down toward the Grove Park Inn far below.

Asheville sunset mountain 2

asheville sunset mountain maple

ahseville sunset mountain mansion 5

asheville sunset mountain spider 6

asheville sunset mountain autumn 1

asheville sunset mountain halloween 8

asheville sunset mountain forest 3

asheville sunset mountain craftsman 7

asheville sunset mountain mansion 9

Blue Ridge Parkway Autumn at Grandfather Mountain

I’ve found that the earliest Fall color along the Blue Ridge Parkway occurs above 3,500 feet around Grandfather Mountain during the first week of October. This year, it actually began a little early, and my drive there on October 12th, found vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows, in abundance.  An early morning visit allowed for the glow of a rising Sun, but as happens often along that iconic roadway, clouds and fog rolled in just as the colors were brightening. The Linn Cove Viaduct offered little visibility of the eastern mountains that has made that view so breathtaking. Undeterred, I was still able to capture the splendor of this annual event, and a return trip scheduled for next week will find a very different, but equally memorable scene as Autumn continues to work its magic.

Blue Ridge Parkway  NorthwestNorthwest view toward Sugar Mountain…

Grandfather Mountain Autumn parkwayGrandfather Mountain in fog…

Blue Ridge parkway autumn

Blue Ridge parkway north view

blue ridge parkway Grandfather Mtn.

blue ridge parkway  Linn Cove ViaductThe entrance to the Linn Cove Viaduct…

parkway Linn Cove ViaductOn the Linn Cove Viaduct in the clouds…

Blue ridge parkway Wilson CreekWilson Creek from the Viaduct bridge…

I made this three minute video during the drive… You must click on the site to see the video….