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Peep the Leaves in and Around Asheville

Even though fall’s arrival means the end of summer sunshine and warmth, there is no shortage of beauty in the season. In fact, it’s one of the most gorgeous seasons here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, as we get the opportunity to see nature’s true color show with the changing leaves. Leaf Season attracts many people to our area to take in the breathtaking views of and from the mountains, and The Residences at Biltmore is excited to welcome all the Leaf Peepers. To help you plan for your trip, we’ve got the predicted schedule for peak leaf color, as well as things to do in Asheville in October.

October’s Allure

Week 1: This is the week when color changing starts at the highest altitudes, such as on Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the eastern United States, with an elevation of 6,684 feet at the top. It’s usually 20-30 degrees colder than Asheville, so be sure to bring a sweater if you’re planning to hike to the top. Just a few feet shorter at 5,946 feet is Grandfather Mountain. In addition to looking at the leaves, make sure to make time for the numerous activities at the location, such as the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, wildlife habitats, and nature museum.

Week 2: Colors are popping at 4,000 – 5,000 feet, so take a hike to Mount Pisgah off the Blue Ridge Parkway. There you will find spots for picnicking, trails, and campgrounds. To enjoy the view with a delightful meal, make time for lunch at the Mount Pisgah Restaurant. For a real treat, head to the Nantahala National Forest and Whiteside Mountain for the “Shadow of the Bear,” an elusive illusion that only occurs for about 2 weeks out of the year. The “bear” appears in shadow form overlooking the mountains between 5:30-6:15 p.m. on sunny days until early November, and can be viewed off Highway 64 at the Rhodes Big View Overlook.

Week 3: It’s looking more and more like autumn closer to Asheville, as the leaves are changing around Pisgah National Forest, the Cradle of Forestry, and Cherokee. The Pisgah National Forest is 500,000 acres teeming with waterfalls, miles of trails, and whitewater rivers. The Cradle of Forestry located within the Forest is the site of what was once the first school of forestry in the U.S. Cherokee is the home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, with many opportunities for exploring the history of the tribe, as well as plenty of places for hiking, fishing, shopping, and even gambling at the Harrah’s Casino.

Week 4: This is it! It’s finally Asheville’s time to shine with full color in our nearly 3,000 feet elevation. We’ve got plenty of ideas for spending time here, so keep reading!

Biltmore

The estate known as America’s Largest Home is open for house tours, as well as tours of the gardens and the winery. The garden’s colors will vary through the season, but in October, it’s likely that the maple, hickory, and dogwood trees will be deep shades of red and orange. Chrysanthemums make their appearance later in the month as summer blooms die.

If you’re planning to tour the house, note that reservations are required, as are face coverings anywhere indoors on the estate. No cash is accepted on the estate, either, so bring credit cards. Full details are available on the Biltmore website.

Hay and Corn Mazes

What is fall without getting lost in a corn maze?? The Eliada Annual Corn Maze is open Fridays through Sundays through Nov.1. Proceeds from admission to the maze benefit Eliada’s foster care, mental health care, and child development services. Tickets are required for the socially distant maze, and can be purchased on their website.

Cane Creek Valley Farm in Fletcher is also open with a Haunted Hay Maze and an ice cream stand, plus yard games and organic produce on sale.

Apple Picking

Another hallmark of the fall season is apple picking. As we mentioned in last month’s post, Hendersonville is one of the largest apple-producing regions in the country. Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, some local orchards have chosen not to open this season. But we still have a few picks for those that are welcoming visitors. Grandad’s Apples offers more than 30 different varieties of apples that can be purchased pre-picked, or you can pick your own. Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard has 21 varieties of pick-your-own, as well as a market for apple cider, donuts, and more. Stepp’s also has a 5-acre corn maze, activities for the family, and a pumpkin patch. One of the most popular apple orchards in the area is SkyTop Orchard in Zirconia. In addition to apples, they offer pick-your-own peaches and asian pears, as well as hot apple cider donuts. Open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., SkyTop is usually pretty busy, so be sure to get an early start.

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