Fall Color Report

Post date: 10/25/2021
Today I traveled up to Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area just outside West Jefferson in Ashe County, NC. Colors up on the mountain and surrounding area were just about peaking (there is still a hint of green) and the best viewing is this weekend. However, colors in this area will continue into midweek, but around Thursday, rain is supposed to move in, which may take down some leaves. However, there will still be good color the following weekend, so if you missed hiking and viewing leaves today, try this week or next weekend.You can drive right to the top of Mt. Jefferson (take US 221 north...
Post date: 10/18/2021
Today I went up to Carver’s Gap at Roan Mountain, which straddles the NC and TN state line. The Appalachian Trail runs north/south across the top. It was cold today – way below freezing when I got there at around 9 am (and it was already crowded with people!). I found a parking space and decided to check out the Fraser firs on the south side of the gap: quite dense woods, with an understory of Fraser firs about three feet tall, just waiting for the taller trees to die before they take over as the dominants. Then, I headed back to the parking lot and went north up onto the balds, where most...
Post date: 10/13/2021
Here is a suite of photos from my fall color trip yesterday. I took Rt. 221 down to Rt. 226, then headed up to Little Switzerland and got on the Parkway south. Eight miles down the road is where you will find Crabtree Falls Campground and Falls. Then, I headed north on the Parkway to Linville Falls. Visited Linville Falls, before heading home to Vilas (small area just west of Boone).In a previous post, the link to the Grandfather Fall Color Gallery didn't work. Here is one that does:  Grandfather Fall Color Gallery  Enjoy!I traveled the road "most" taken today, The...
Post date: 10/04/2021
I went out before the rains moved in today and went north onto the Blue Ridge Parkway from US 421. It was hazy out, but on occasion, the sun broke through and there was some color to see in places, but for the most part, the dominant color is still green in this area. The BRP in this region ranges mostly between 3,100’ to 3,500’ in elevation, and at these elevations, colors are just starting.If you go south on the BRP toward Linville and Grandfather Mountain, colors are somewhat further along at the higher elevations, especially in the Rough Ridge area and the east flank of Grandfather. Same...
Post date: 10/01/2021
I wanted to check out how rapidly the fall colors were developing, especially at the higher elevations, and was told by personnel on Grandfather that they were coming on strong now. So, early this morning I headed up to the mountain and took some pictures, which are in this posting.As you can see, there is some good color developing now at the higher elevations on Grandfather, but also on the lower slopes closer to the Parkway and Beacon Heights. The red maples are providing splashes of bright red color, while birches and other species are turning yellow.This weekend would be worth a trip,...
Post date: 09/27/2021
Since fall leaf color starts first at the higher elevations and then works its way downslope about 1000’ every 7-10 days, I decided to hike to the top of Elk Knob State Park, which is about 10 miles north of Boone with a summit at around 5,500’. I highly recommend this hike – 2 miles on switchbacks to the top, with an easy grade all the way up. At the summit, there are two overlooks, one facing south where you can see Grandfather Mt. as well as Mt. Mitchell and Roan Mt. The other overlook faces north into Ashe County and you can get great views of color from that overlook, as well being able...
Post date: 09/22/2021
One of the aspects of fall color that I have tried to explain in past posts is that trees cue in on three major factors that determine when their leaves will turn color and senesce (meaning to die): these are daylength, temperature, and precipitation. Regarding daylength, once we get past the summer solstice on June 21, where we have the longest day of the year, daylength continually shortens until we get to the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. In Boone, the winter solstice will occur at 10:59 am on Tuesday, December 21. After that date, the days will continually lengthen until...
Post date: 09/22/2021
The word is: green! Nearly all of the western mountains are still quite green. There is a hint of color on the way, with red and sugar maples starting to show some color on isolated branches and branch tips. Dogwoods have been turning red since mid-August, and sourwoods are coloring up now. Pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) leaves are turning a deep orange-red and dropping early now. This week I ventured up Grandfather Mountain just south of Boone and Blowing Rock. This isolated mountain in the Blue Ridge is the highest in the area, with Mt. Mitchell, about 60 miles south, the highest peak in...
Post date: 09/02/2021
We are now about six weeks away from what should be peak fall color along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, at elevations between 3,000-4,500’. Right now, the forests are mostly still green, although after my excursion today on the Parkway, I did see scattered instances of trees starting to turn color. These trees seem ahead of schedule compared to past years, but I don’t think fall color will be unusually early this year. I drove the BRP between Blowing Rock and the Linn Cove Viaduct today. This section is one of the most popular parts of the Parkway, so when...
Post date: 08/13/2021
This is the first of my fall color reports for 2021. Of course, starting off in August there isn’t a lot of color development yet, but there are some isolated cases among urban trees, which always begin changing color before trees in the woods. In particular, urban red maples, dogwoods and sourwoods, as well as some stressed sugar maples are coloring up now, but don’t panic, as the major fall color display will still occur in mid-October. My graduate student, Claire Martin, is studying how urban red maples, including the Armstrong and Autumn Blaze cultivars, develop their fall colors,...