WISLEY, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: Members of the public admire trees displaying their autumn colours at the Royal Horticultural Society Garden Wisley on October 26, 2011 in Wisley, England. Many deciduous trees have now changed colour as they begin to shed their leaves for Autumn. An extended period of leaf colour change has come about this year due to a warm, dry Spring prompting an early growth spurt and a premature colour change. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the term leaf season in reference to the NC Mountains. Some college friends and I were planning a fall break trip to Asheville and realized that hotel prices were higher due to the fall colors. Since then it’s something we still laugh at but people (us included) will travel to see the leaves at their peak.

But when is the peak leaf season for the NC mountains? This coming weekend, October 15th-17th, may be your best time to take in the views. According to Romantic Asheville’s Fall Color Forecast temperatures have the leaves changing at around 3,000-4,000 feet elevation. This makes it the ultimate week for the most color throughout large portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Some places they reccomend visiting include Little Switzerland which is a cute little town just off the Parkway, and Bakersville and Spruce Pine.

Other places that should be good to view to fall foliage are the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard,  the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. Looking to go for hike? Check out Looking Glass Rock or Cradle of Forestry. No matter where you head in the mountians this weekend you should be able to find prime colors for your viewing and photographing pleasure.

Can’t make it this weekend? No worries the following weekend will still boast pretty colors in much of the state. I actually have a trip to Asheville planned that weekend and Asheville and Biltmore area along the French Broad River is anticipated to be at its peak. As we make into November colors will still be pretty, creaping along at lower elevations. That means it will only be a matter of time before the piedmont starts to see the leaves turn.

Helpful tips for viewing:

  • If you’re driving make sure to fill up with gas before heading out on the parkway
  • You can get some wonderful views and photographs early in the morning as the fog is rolling in. Cloudy hazy days can also make for gorgeous views.
  • Bring a jacket. Getting up into the mountains the temperature can drop several degrees, it will almost certainly be chilly.
  • Pack a picnic and pull over to eat and fully immerse yourself in the experience.

Get more info on leaf season in the NC Mountains here.

Gallery: Fall Colors Across The World