Tags: fall colors
An "excellent" fall color show should begin to roll down the mountainsides of western North Carolina in the next couple of weeks and continue through October.
Kathy Matthews, associate professor of biology specializing in plant systematics at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, said in her annual prediction that “2011 should prove to be an excellent year for fall color.”
Depending upon the timing of the first frost, fall colors should peak during the second week of October in the higher elevations, and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations, Matthews told WCU's The Reporter.
Howie Neufeld, Ph.D., professor of Plant Physiology at Appalachian State University in Boone, predicted this week on his The Fall Color Guy blog that the color would peak in the Boone/Grandfather Mountain area the weekend of October 7-9 and "maybe the next weekend farther south around Asheville."
Neufeld said colors in the Highlands/Cashiers area of the Nantahala National Forest peak about the same time as in Boone or just slightly afterward. In the Great Smoky Mountains, he said, "colors will peak in early October at the higher elevations, and then work their way downslope, with a delay of about five days for every 1,000-foot drop in elevation."
In his weekly report for this week, Neufeld said he drove to Linville Falls and Grandfather Mountain State Park over the weekend and found a significant increase in color on the hills compared to last week, though they are still about 80 percent green.
"On Grandfather Mountain, color is very pronounced on the heath balds and rock outcrops," Neufeld writes. "Above 4,500 feet, color is quite advanced, and on the eastern and lower flanks of Grandfather (the side facing the Blue Ridge Parkway) there are one or two ridges with excellent color already. You can get a great view of this from the Beacon Heights parking lot, and also on the rock outcrops at Beacon Heights (take the short trail to the top for spectacular views)."
Beacon Heights, at MP 305.3 on the Parkway, is a trailhead for Section 13 the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the Tanawha Trail, which goes under the Linn Cove Viaduct.