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




4 thoughts on “Dramatic Color in South McDowell County

  1. I have just discovered your beautiful site through your comment on Blind Pig and the Acorn.
    Your pictures and the videos evoke a flood of treasured memories of our MS flatland family traveling the hills, ridges, majestic mountains of Western NC from 1987 – 2014. We felt ultimate peace and elation, at the same time, while exploring the high countries of NC.
    Due to health issues, our Next trip has been delayed~but the incentive of experiencing all the beauty of the mountains and the friendships of the people we’ve met has me working hard to recover and be able to return to God’s majesty in Appalachia…
    Looking forward to visiting there with you.
    PS we have traveled soo many of those roads you sited-had albums full of pix, lost in South LA flood of 2016.
    I had heart skip a beat moments looking over and over your stunning pic. Sorry this is so long~
    Anne D, Oak Grove, MS

    • Dear Anne, It is so rewarding to read your comment. You are I obviously share an immense appreciation of the beauty found around every bend in these mountain roads. I’m so pleased that you have shared your heart with me. Stay in touch… Vann

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