2009 Fall Foliage Forecast
for Asheville and Western North Carolina Fall Colors
Our fall foliage forecast tells you when the peak North Carolina fall colors occur, where to enjoy fall color in the mountains and the best fall color scenic drives, walks, hikes and magnificent views.
Overview: Color should be good this year but perhaps more subdued than the last two years when drought-stressed forests put on a spectacular show. This very wet season may slow the start of color down by a few days.
Fall Color Report Posted November 04, 2009: Autumn foliage color can still be found in the mid-and-lower elevations. A longer than usual season has been assisted by wet weather and warmer overall temperatures. The long range forcast is calling for clear, sunny days, so it is still a lovely time to get our and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway or explore the lower elevation towns including Asheville, Hendersonville, Tryon and Saluda. The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed for two short sections: milepost 269.8 - 280.9 - near Blowing Rock and milepost 393.6 - 405.5 - Asheville Area. Clearly marked detours will lead visitors around these two sections.
Our fall foliage forecast for peak fall color in the mountains of North Carolina and along the Blue Ridge Parkway is around October 17, with peak Asheville fall color near October 25.
Once the leaves begin to turn, North Carolina fall colors last for four weeks or longer in the Carolina Mountains, thanks to the roughly 4,500 foot variance in elevation:
Fall Foliage Forecast Week 1 (October 1 - 7): Fall color appears at elevations over 5000 feet, including Mount Pisgah, Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell.
Fall Foliage Forecast Week 2 (October 8 - 14: Fall color drifts into the mid elevation, with fall foliage appearing in the mountain peaks over 4000 feet. This is a great time to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Fall Foliage Forecast Week 3 (October 15 - 22): Fall colors peak in the mid elevations around 3000 feet, with fall foliage and brilliant fall color visible everywhere.
Fall Foliage Forecast Week 4 (October 23 - 30): Fall color peaks at elevations below 3000 feet. Asheville fall color is at the best, and most towns and villages are infused with fall color in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Although every autumn brings a panorama of fall color to these ancient hills there are three questions everyone asks:
Why do leaves change color and how good will the fall colors be this year?
How brilliant the fall colors in the mountains are depends on several factors. One of the most important is a brisk cold snap occurring between mid September and the first week of October. Such a cold snap traps sugars and other chemicals in the leaves that contribute to their autumn foliage brilliance. Watch the regional weather reports and check here for our updated fall foliage forecast for fall color in the mountains. Two or three nights of near freezing temperatures are all it takes to bring out the most dazzling hues of North Carolina fall colors.
When will peak fall color occur?
Peak fall color date is dependent on a number of factors. One is rainfall. A dryer than average year will tend to bring fall foliage colors out a week or more earlier than a wet year. Temperature is another factor. A warm late September will delay peak fall color in the mountains, while a September with crisp cool days and near freezing nights will accelerate both the date and quality of the fall foliage. Lastly fall color in the mountains depends on the elevation. Leaves will begin turning at high elevations first, gradually descending to mid and then lower elevations.
Where are the best places to view fall foliage?
So many places, so little time! One of the great things about the Blue Ridge Mountains is the variety of places, times and activities that are perfect for enjoying spectacular autumn fall foliage colors.
That's why we have put together this mini guide to Fall Colors in the Carolina Mountains. Look at our fall foliage forecast above, and then follow the links below to enjoy your favorite North Carolina fall colors activities.
Best Fall Foliage Scenic Views
Pack a picnic lunch and drive to Max Patch in fall. Follow curving two-lane country roads through rural countryside, small mountain towns and forest ablaze with autumn colors on this favorite Asheville fall foliage tour.
Moses Cone Enjoying fall colors at Moses Cone Memorial Park is as easy as sitting in a rocking chair on the broad porch of the Flat Top Manor on a warm autumn day
Grandfather Mountain Viewing fall colors at Grandfather Mountain from the middle of the mile high swinging bridge is an autumn experience to remember for a lifetime.
Mount Mitchell Fall foliage season is a great time to visit the highest mountain in the eastern US, when a crisp clear autumn day provides long range views of fall colors.
Our Favorite Autumn Foliage Walks
Asheville Fall colors Walk
Stroll along the rushing Swannanoa River on a leaf strewn path and then circle the fields at Warren Wilson College Farm surrounded by fall colors.
Take the family on an autumn foliage walk in the gardens with the best fall color plantings, and then walk paths through native woods at the peak of fall color.
Moses Cone Carriage Road
A favorite family fall color walk around pretty blue Bass Lake surrounded by vibrant fall foliage in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Joyce Kilmer Forest
Surrounded by fall colors, walk through an old growth forest with giant 400 year-old poplar and ancient hardwood trees in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.
Follow in the footsteps of famous poet Carl Sandburg to the top of Glassy Mountain for a scenic view of fall colors in the Flat Rock valley.
Fall Foliage Scenic Drives
Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Colors
Scenic Drive, Blowing Rock to Asheville, with best fall foliage spots, great walks and renowned craft shops of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild.
Cold Mountain North Carolina
Spectacular fall foliage scenic drive around Cold Mountain of movie and book fame delivers impressive mountain vistas, waterfalls and striking fall colors.
WNC High Country
Stunning fall foliage scenic drive through beautiful fall color in the mountains between Boone North Carolina and Spruce Pine NC.
Smoky Mountains Fall Colors
Our favorite little-known autumn drive to see Smoky Mountain fall colors is into the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, home of the Cataloochee elk herd.
Waterfalls Highlands NC
Fall colors, high mountains and waterfalls, Highlands NC to Brevard fall foliage scenic drive, an irresistible combination for a magnificent fall foliage day trip.
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