Color in the Vicinity of Otter Creek

Now that I’ve cruised the Blue Ridge Parkway four times in the past month, it’s time to explore the immediate area near my home in Northwest Rutherford County. With color arriving late this season, I decided to take the twenty minute drive up Cedar Creek Road into Eastern Buncombe County, and check out elevations between 1,800 and 2,700 feet. This lightly traveled way leads to Old Fort-Bat Cave Road, and through the Gap between 3,300 foot Stone Mountain, and 3,500 foot Round Mountain. Along the way, I quickly observed that the best color was between 2,200 and 3,000 feet.

This was the view to the northeast toward Marion, N.C., from an overlook known as Blackberry Ridge, on the northern slope of Stone Mountain.blackberry ridgeGrandfather Mountain is the most distant peak on the left side of the horizon. 3,600 foot Dobson’s Knob is the mountain just to the left of the tree.

little pisgahAfter passing through the Gap, 4,300 foot Little Pisgah Mountain dominates the southwestern horizon. This view is from a Gated Community on Round Mountain called Sun Dance Ridge.sun dance ridgeStone Mountain lurks high above the entrance gate.

ridge roadHigher up Sun Dance Ridge at 2,700 feet, the color was peaking.

Looking back to the east, Stone Mountain was just catching the midday Sun.stone mtn

I drove back north, through the Gap, and back down Cedar Creek Road, heading for a mountain three miles north of my house, where the Maples are especially bright during the first week of November. Although it was still too early for their annual display, I found dramatic views, just the same.

cabin view 1From the deck of this cabin at 1,700 feet, Tryon Mountain along the North and South Carolina border was resplendent against this Carolina Blue sky. The closer mountains are on the eastern side of Lake Lure and Chimney Rock.

cabin view 2What a perfect spot to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. Truly a Million Dollar view.

cabin view 4Turning toward the east, Long and Glaxhorn Mountains protect a vast valley where Black Angus cattle graze.

cabin view 3Otter Creek Valley, where I live, is just over those two peaks on the right, Oak, and Brushy Top. In another week, this view will be very colorful.

laurel valleyThe Sugar Maples are just beginning to turn at this cabin a little higher up the mountain.

sun colorDriving back down the mountain, these Maples and Hickories were aglow from  the backlighting of the Sun. That’s when the colors are most vibrant.

About half way down, Grassy Mountain to the east just proves that when you live in The Blue Ridge Mountains, all you need to do is wait a few days, and all the colors will come to you.grassy


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