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 children or people with any difficulty climbing rocks. Be careful if you go up on them!
The Black Rock Trail is dominated by maples and birches, along with spruce and rhododendron. It’s not as popular as other trails and so you can avoid a lot of people if you hike it. I thoroughly enjoyed the hike today.
There is noticeably more color today than when I was up there a week ago Thursday. Jesse Pope, Grandfather Foundation Director, says he has seen considerable color development in just the last two days. I think my prediction that peak color will occur next weekend and into the following week is right on (for now!). Currently, color is appearing on certain ridges from Boone Fork on the Parkway all the way down to Chestoa Overlook. Everything below the Parkway though, is still quite green.
Trees that are coloring up this week include birches, beeches, red and striped maples, sassafras, and sourwoods. Oaks will be the last to color up, probably in about 10 days or so, maybe even later.
That’s about it for this week. Check out the album of pictures that I just posted. Weather is supposed to be moderate but in a few days lows could be down in the high 30s, and that should spur on color development. Could be a few rainy days here and there, but we desperately need it .
If you’re coming up to the High Country, have a safe and enjoyable trip