The US Forest Service has launched a Leaf Viewing in Western North Carolina webpage for 2012 featuring scenic drives and areas in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests for enjoying fall foliage. Visitors to the site will see pictures and get directions to enjoy the kaleidoscope of glorious leaf colors North Carolina has to offer.
Leaf Viewing in Western North Carolina describes the types of mountain trees that visitors will see during peak season at high, middle and low elevations. For example, the Cherohala Skyway in Graham County enables travelers to enjoy a variety of colorful, high-elevation trees in late September.
Prominent trees in the South that turn brilliant colors include tulip poplar (yellow), hickory species (red), flowering dogwood (red), blackgum (scarlet) and numerous oaks (reds, yellow, scarlet). Evergreen trees such as pitch pine, as well as the abundant great rhododendron, provide a green backdrop interspersed with the colorful trees.
Where do all the colors come out? When temperatures cool in autumn, chlorophyll starts to degrade allowing the hidden pigments of deciduous trees to provide a rich, colorful display. This rich display typically starts at the highest elevation in late September and early October gradually progressing to the lowest elevation by late October and early November.
Remember, whether in a vehicle, riding a bike or hiking autumn is always a great time to visit your national forests throughout the country to view leave’s adorned in brilliant reds, oranges and yellows as each region of the country offers up a different pallet of vibrant colors.
Don’t forget to call the U.S. Forest Service’s Fall Colors Hotline at 1-800-354-4595. The hotline provides audio updates on the best places, dates and routes to take for peak viewing of fall colors on national forests.