Today I took the Blue Ridge Parkway North from U.S. 321 near Blowing Rock and went all the way up to Doughton Park. While the colors are past peak right on the Parkway, there were sections where the trees were behind and still in fine color, such as just north of the intersection with U.S. 421, and the forests at lower elevations were quite colorful. Throughout, the oaks have begun showing off, and on the ridges, the chestnut and scarlet oaks are turning a nice deep burgundy/red color, and on slightly moister slopes the white, black and red oaks too are turning red colors.
The combination of beech, birch, some magnolias, and abundant sugar maples, plus the oaks, gives the forests a distinctly yellow/orange appearance, with the scattered red trees, such as the oaks, red maples, black gums, and sourwoods. Most of the tulip poplar are leafless now, although some have retained their leaves.
The witch hazels are showing off their beautifully yellow leaves, and their very unusual flowers, being one of the only shrubs to flower in the fall (and it is pollinated by a moth).
Today was an exceptional day, with clear, blue skies, and I took a lot of photos looking straight up to contrast the leaves against the azure blue of the sky. I highly recommend this drive - it's not quite as busy as the section south of Blowing Rock to the Viaduct, and it has exceptional overlooks in places. It has a more pastoral feel to it, as the road goes through cattle fields more so than the southern section. Doughton Park has some nice hiking trails and the leaves are still on a number of trees. Cascade Falls, about 8 miles north of U.S. 421, offers a short, easy hike to some stone overlooks of the falls (do NOT climb out onto the falls, as they are very steep and you could get hurt easily by slipping on the wet rocks!). The falls are small, but quite nice.
The forests you see off the overlooks are coloring up, and in places look quite nice. They should be getting better in the next week, so if you missed this weekend, the next one should still show off good color in the lower forests. You can see my photos using this link: