Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September 28, 2015 - Blue Ridge Parkway from Grandfather Mountain to Asheville

Today's outing was twofold - the main reason was so that my wife could complete the last hike for her next book about day hikes along the NC section of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The other reason was to check out the leaf color color progression along that section of the Parkway.

I figured the Parkway would be foggy in the morning, so we took the quicker boring way down I-40 to US70 in Old Fort, then up US221 to the Parkway at Linville.  We did see some very spotty color once we passed Linville Caverns on 221.  The fog got thicker as we neared the Parkway and we could barely see the trees once we got on the BRP.  The trail we hiked was a section of the Tanawha Trail from Cold Prong Overlook to Boone Fork Overlook.  It's a 2 mile section and is a nice stroll through the woods, but there are other sections of the trail around the Viaduct that offer more interesting scenery.  Just south of our endpoint is a nice foot bridge over Boone Fork, so we also stopped there to see how full that stream was. For those of you not from here or keeping up with our weather, this area has been in a drought all summer with the deficit reaching around 8 inches just 2 weeks ago. Creek and waterfall levels were really low. Then the rains came at the end of last week and it's been raining on and off ever since with most areas getting 4-8 inches - and there's more in the forecast.

bridge along the Tanawha Trail
Boone Fork

The fog began lifting somewhat on the return trip back to the vehicle. We had pretty much decided that we were going to take the Parkway back home unless the fog was too thick to see the road.  Unfortunately, it closed back in quickly. I had wanted to stop at the Rough Ridge Overlook to see that waterfall at the parking area, so we pulled in and you can see it below. Also at that overlook, they have redone the stairs up from the parking area and did a really nice job!

waterfall at Rough Ridge Overlook along the Parkway

We could barely see off the Parkway at this point, but were seeing some peak trees. It didn't look like full peak by any means, but it's still worth a drive if the weather would clear in the next day or 2.  It was still too foggy over the Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain areas to see much, but we could see some peak trees right next to the road. The fog thinned a bit once we approached Linville Falls and we could see enough to tell that the color was still spotty in that area. Cindy suggested we stop at Duggars Creek Falls right off the Linville parking area for a look at the water flow there. There were actually more colorful trees along the road into the parking area than there were along the Parkway.  Duggars Creek was gushing as you can see from the photo below.

Duggars Creek Falls

I normally go below the bridge to shoot, but you have to get in the creek for a good shot and I didn't want to chance it with the swift water. I just settled for a shot from the bridge. Back on the Parkway, the color situation remained the same for the most part - spotty, but still mostly green. In the lower elevations we could see off of the Parkway some and green was still the dominant color.  The color picked up a bit in the Mount Mitchell area, but so did the fog. The areas of exposed rock and trees had the most color.  We were hoping against hope that the clouds would part so we could see Glassmine Falls in the Craggy Gardens area and it did!  I really thought there would be more water on it, but there was none 2 weeks ago.

Glassmine Falls

That really shows the color situation in the higher elevations.  On the opposite side of the Parkway, the view down towards Barnardsville was still very green.  Color along the Parkway remained spotty all the way back to Asheville and we even saw a bit of sunshine! There's no telling what kind of effect all this rain will have on the leaf color. Only time will tell.

1 comment:

  1. SO happy you've decided to blog. What a great way to share the adventure(s)!! Have added you to my blog feed so I can easily keep up! Pics you've posted are gorgeous.