Today was a beautiful day – clear blue skies, followed by a thin veneer of cirrus clouds later on, with comfortable, cool temperatures - perfect hiking weather. There were lots of people out on the trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway and at Grandfather Mountain State Park. I like to see people out experiencing nature – I overheard one young boy say that this was the best place he could remember. How great to hear something like that!
I have posted photos that I took on my hike today. I found a new trail that I highly recommend – the Flat Rock Trail, about 3 miles south of Grandfather Mountain off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a short hike to a rock outcrop that provides views westward of Roan Mountain, Grandfather Mountain Country Club and State Park, and Sugar Mountain. Lots of interesting plants also, and it's an easy hike. The trail is a loop, so you end up back at the parking lot when done.
Well, there is only a slight start to the fall color season. See the photos I've posted. Some of the shrubs, like huckleberry and low and high bush blueberry, are starting to change color. A maple here and there is coloring up, as are a few birch, but the remaining trees are still green.
There are some nice late summer flowering plants, like goldenrods, pokeweeds, impatiens, asters, snakeroot, Joe-Pye weed, and ironweed, decorating the roadsides and forest understories now. This is also a good year for mushrooms, many of which are popping up along the trails now.
The roads to Grandfather were clogged with cars today, so when the fall colors start, be aware that if you delay the time of day you go to the mountain, you could find yourself sitting for an hour or two waiting to get in. Go early, or late, or during the week. Weekends will be crowded.
It's been cool here in the High Country all summer. It was 54F this morning and only reached a high of 62 yesterday, which is pretty remarkable for this time of year. If this continues throughout September, we should be on schedule for a good fall color season. Interestingly, the urban red maples, planted in town, are only now just turning, but the colors don't look as intense to me as in previous years. I'll take some photos tomorrow and post them for you to see.
Finally, I have to recommend the Hampton Store in Linville for their BBQ lunch ($9.99). They have live entertainment, and next store is their craft store. Some of the best BBQ in the High Country.
See you next week!