There’s more to a great mountain home than four walls and a roof. And at this point in the year, who wants to be under a roof, anyway?
Every autumn in Western North Carolina, nature puts on a gorgeous color show of deep reds and bright yellows as the leaves transform into rich and vibrant hues. Private drives and public outlooks that show our mountains’ majesty year round suddenly transform into breathtaking, fiery scenes. It’s no wonder why each year thousands of people take to the Blue Ridge Parkway to soak in the sights.
But the Parkway is only one of many great drives through our region this season. If you’re looking for a new spot for leaf peeping, our Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks agents are here to help. We asked them: Where are your favorite places to take a fall drive in WNC?
My favorite drive in the fall is out Highway 209 to Max Patch, which is a great place to hike. The rolling pastures of the valley nestled down below the mountains are lit up with color. The colors of the leaves range from orange to yellow to brown and purple.
—Amanda Hill, The Hill Team
Our favorite drive in the fall is from Asheville to Johnson City on Highway 19/23 (Future I-26). Once you leave Asheville, it doesn’t take long to get into the heart of the Blue Ridge. Once you reach Buckner Gap and Sam’s Gap, you can truly take in the beauty of our mountains. Stop at Sam’s Gap and you can take a hike on the Appalachian Trail!
Leaves in the fall? Go to the “Peak of the Parkway”—Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 408. Take a ride to Pisgah Forest near Brevard, then up to the Blue Ridge Parkway to Pisgah Inn. You can have lunch while you are there, and the views are unbelievable. Then take a hike to Pisgah Mountain.
For a drive that starts in town, I recommend Greenville Street in Saluda, which turns into Mountain Page Road. Eventually, the road goes through the watershed to South Carolina. Count on beautiful views!
I recommend the Blue Ridge Parkway in October when the air is cool, the sky is a deep color of blue, and the leaves are a palette of red, yellow, shades of green, and brown. Enjoy the top down in the car and the freedom to cruise at 35 MPH without a care in the world.
There is no doubt that the Blue Ridge Parkway is the place to be when fall color begins to pop! It’s fun to drive it weekly to see the progression of colors throughout the different elevations that are visible from the Parkway. Another wonderful drive is Highway 276 from Brevard to Waynesville. You are in the Pisgah National Forest for much of the drive, and you cannot only see fall unfold around you, but there are plenty of waterfalls along the way.
One of my all-time favorite fall drives is Highway 64 to Highlands. Whether you’re driving from Brevard or Franklin, you will not be disappointed. Sweeping views and gorgeous waterfalls will be seen along the way. Highlands is one of my favorite local getaways; go check out the Old Edwards Inn.
I love Cataloochee. The scenery is outstanding, and to see an elk in the wild close up is truly exciting!
It is so hard to choose just one drive. Everywhere you go, there is an abundance of natural beauty. The drives to the Linville Gorge, Mount Mitchell, and Roan Mountain are all great. One of my favorites is scenic Highway 209 towards Max Patch. You don’t have to go far to enjoy the color.
From Downtown Asheville, head up Town Mountain Road and drive until you hit the Blue Ridge Parkway. Continue along the Parkway to the Craggy Dome Overlook, and enjoy some of the most amazing vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains and fall colors along the way.
From west of town, drive a few miles south of Waynesville on US-74 towards Balsam, and hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway just after passing one of my favorite local pottery places, Mud Dabbers, at mile marker 93.7. Enjoy incredible fall colors as you drive north through downtown Maggie Valley! Continue towards Lake Junaluska for some amazing lake/mountain views, and end the day at Boojum Brewery and Tap Room in Downtown Waynesville for some delicious food and beverages.
Fall is such a special time of year in WNC! The colors are so vibrant on all of our trails in Brevard, where I live. On a crisp fall day, if you want to see some serious color change, I recommend driving up Hwy 64 to Cashiers/Highlands. I enjoy the rustic/ cabin design of all the mom and pop shops along the way as I watch the mountains and trees grow bigger and colors get brighter. Make sure to stop in at Bucks Coffee Cafe in Cashiers—I usually get their Americano. It’s such a cozy coffee shop, especially in the fall since they have a fireplace and plush leather chairs!
We love driving and hiking through Chimney Rock State Park. It has some of North Carolina’s most dramatic and spectacular mountain scenery, which overlooks Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. Take the adventure to the top on a very pleasant trail (499 steps) with beautiful waterfalls and views along the way. The vibrant fall colors and beauty will take your breath away!
I believe the best fall drive in WNC is in DuPont State Forest. The first stop is High Falls, which is a beautiful 15-foot waterfall. Then you continue up Highway 276, which is a great route between Greenville and Brevard. You can stop at Caesars Head, walk about 100 yards, and have a spectacular 50-mile view of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. Head back down and grab a beverage at Oskar Blues.
See the Colors from Your Front Porch! Live Near the Best Fall Drives in WNC!
Among the many ways we Live Abundantly in WNC is through our proximity to amazing outdoor views that ignite with color in the fall. Find a color-filled home near one of the drives mentioned in this post!
- Balsam – Search for homes in Jackson County.
- Biltmore Estate – Search for homes in Biltmore Forest.
- Buckner Gap, Max Patch, Sam’s Gap – Search for homes in Madison County.
- Cashiers, Highlands, Old Edwards Inn – Search for homes in Transylvania County.
- Cataloochee, downtown Maggie Valley – Search for homes in Maggie Valley.
- Chimney Rock State Park, Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure – Search for homes in Lake Lure.
- Craggy Dome Overlook – Search for homes in Barnardsville.
- DuPont State Forest, High Falls, Looking Glass Falls, Pisgah National Forest – Search for homes in Brevard.
- Greenville Street, Mountain Page Road – Search for homes in Saluda.
- Lake Junaluska – Search for homes in Lake Junaluska.
- Linville Gorge – Search for homes in Marion.
- Mount Mitchell – Search for homes in Yancey County.
- Pisgah National Forest – Search for homes in Pisgah Forest.
- Pisgah Inn – Search for homes in Canton.
- Town Mountain Road – Search for homes in Asheville.