Fall Color Report

Post date: 11/04/2019
Yesterday was a beautiful day here in the High Country with clear blue skies and moderately cool temperatures. There were many people out on the Parkway catching the last of this season’s fall colors.Fall colors here in the High Country are now past peak. In fact, they are mostly gone. There is still some color, mostly burnt-orange and deep burgundy red, due to the red, white and chestnut oaks, the last species of trees to show off their fall colors. The display of colors ranges from a single tree in a forest of leafless, gray trees to ridges dominated by oaks completely covered in orange and...
Post date: 10/28/2019
 Getting up early to view the fall foliage displays is becoming a habit with me this fall. It’s also something you all should consider, because you can drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and see nary a soul and have the views all to yourself. Today I was fortunate in getting out early because around 11:30 am, clouds moved onto the Parkway and it became fogged in with very limited visibility. This is the result of former tropical storm Olga, which is bringing up lots of moisture and warm temperatures to the High Country. However, before the clouds came, this was the peak weekend for the High...
Post date: 10/16/2019
 Today I gave my fall color talk at the Nature Museum on Grandfather Mt. To avoid the large crowds (and Grandfather personnel thought it could be a record crowd today) I arrived at the Park just after 9:45 am. After checking in, I headed off to hike the Black Rock Trail, which you can access from the lower portion of the Black Rock parking lot on the way up to the Top Shop. It’s a moderately easy 1 mile hike out and 1 mile back. There are some great views from the rocks at the end, but access is not easy (a single cable to pull yourself up on) and I don’t recommend it for small...
Post date: 10/07/2019
 A cool front came through late Friday evening, socking in the mountains in a cloud/fog (fog is just a cloud on the ground). There wasn't much rain with this front, but temperatures did drop about 20 degrees. However, the night time lows didn't get as low as I would have liked them to due to the persistent cloud cover, which traps heat close to the ground. Nonetheless, these lower temperatures are very welcome. I would like to see them drop even further.Colors are starting in isolated locations. The ridges below Stack Rock, on the east flank of Grandfather Mt., are showing some nice...
Post date: 10/01/2019
 I went to Elk Knob State Park this morning to check out the colors there. Because this park rises up to 5,520’ elevation, there can be dramatic differences in the degree of fall color display since elevation exerts such a strong influence on the timing of peak color. I was surprised to see substantial color development beginning this weekend – isolated maples were showing up against a mostly green background, along with birches and beech and tulip poplars. We are definitely in the beginning stages of fall color development. And we’re on time, something I attribute to the cool mornings...
Post date: 09/23/2019
Yesterday, Saturday, Sep 21, I went to Grandfather Mt as part of a social outing for the PIedmont Chapter of the American Chemical Society and also to scout out the fall leaf colors.Colors are starting to appear at the highest elevations. Out of scale of 1-10, I'd say the colors are between 1 and 2 now, but they are definitely visible to the eye.Mt. Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) fruits are on full display - a brilliant red-orange color that is spectacular when viewed against an azure sky. Last year was a bad year this species, with few if any fruits, but they have rebounded this year. They will be...
Post date: 09/17/2019
  Went hiking at Flat Rock and Beacon Heights today with my daughter Gabriela and her dog, Mila. Forests are still green, but if you look closely at the summit of Grandfather Mountain, you can just see the beginnings of some yellowing at those high elevations. A lot of the color change I saw today is being caused more by drought than by cool temperatures. We haven't had significant rain now in about 4-5 weeks.In particular, tulip poplars are dropping their leaves now - they turn yellow and then fall off. Same for birches. And sassafras has turned colors at least a month ahead...
Post date: 11/06/2018
For the final Fall Color Report,  I traveled east and down in elevation to Stone Mountain State Park, in North Carolina (https://www.ncparks.gov/stone-mountain-state-park). It was my first trip to this 14,500-acre gem of a park, and I would encourage all of you reading this not to wait 31 years to visit it as I have done! This is one of the prettiest parks in the state and the views from the top are spectacular. There are also waterfalls, but I didn’t have time to visit them (I had to get back and cook my New England clam chowder for the family – made from scratch!). But I will be coming...
Post date: 10/29/2018
  This is the peak weekend for fall colors in the High Country, some two weeks later than normal. Unfortunately, for many of you, Saturday was a bust, with rain and wind. However, today, Sunday, was quite nice, with clear blue skies up to about 3 pm, at which time the clouds moved in. Peak colors should persist for a few more days but by next weekend will be past in the High Country. Also unfortunately, peak colors does not mean great fall color. This year has been one of the least colorful fall displays ever, primarily due to the unusually warm temperatures in September and...
Post date: 10/23/2018
 Today started off dreary and drizzly, but by noon, it began to clear up. However, as the skies cleared, the winds picked up, and throughout the day, we were buffeted by strong gusts. Of course, this took some leaves off the trees, especially those that had started to turn color. That’s sort of been the story here this fall – just about everything that could go wrong for good fall color has happened this year: I said for good fall color we needed cool, sunny weather, starting in September. Instead, we had record warmth and excess rain and clouds. I said we needed to avoid rainstorms...