Autumn in the Asheville area brings a range of delights for the senses, with vibrant fall foliage topping the list. There are a variety of scenic hiking spots to take in the region’s stunning seasonal display, from vantage-point peaks to tree-shrouded paths blanketed in crunchy leaves. Following are a few favorite backdrops for a show-stopping fall hike:
This famed, 4,600-foot mountain bald in Pisgah National Forest offers spectacular 360-degree views, accessible via an easy hike along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. A clear, crisp fall day affords optimal, unobstructed views of colorful foliage stretching toward Mount Mitchell to the east and the Great Smoky Mountains to the south. The bald, located near Hot Springs some 47 miles northwest of Asheville, is an ideal spot for a sunny afternoon picnic.
Folk Art Center to Haw Creek Overlook
If you want to soak in a fun fall afternoon outdoors but don’t want to travel outside of Asheville, this hike along the Mountains to Sea Trail won’t disappoint. Starting at the Folk Art Center, 13 minutes east of downtown Asheville (milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway), the trail stretches 4.7 miles to Haw Creek Overlook. The majority of the path slices through dense forest, the rustle of fall leaves underfoot to accompany your hike, and culminates in an overlook offering open mountain and valley views.
Black Balsam Knob
This popular stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 26 miles from Asheville, is a series of three balds offering sweeping views of the surrounding autumn color. Unobstructed by trees for almost 3 miles of the hike – covering Black Balsam Knob (6,214 feet), Sam Knob and Tennent Mountain – the path offers plenty of opportunities to take in the season’s stellar show.
If you’re looking for an in-town hike enveloped in fall foliage, try this popular path just 7 miles northeast of downtown Asheville. Beginning where Town Mountain Road intersects the Blue Ridge Parkway, this stretch of the Mountain-to-Sea Trail winds along a tree-covered mountainside, offering a relatively easy hike interspersed with small climbs.
There’s nothing quite like a waterfall encompassed in fall foliage; for such a postcard-perfect scene, check out Graveyard Fields. Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway about 37 miles southwest of downtown Asheville, Graveyard Fields boasts two waterfalls in a valley surrounded by 6,000-foot peaks. Enjoy a quick hike to take in the color-framed Lower Falls, or continue along the 4-mile Graveyard Fields Loop to Upper Falls.
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