12 Breathtaking Places to Enjoy Fall in North Carolina

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North Carolina is one of the most beautiful states in the USA, hands down. These are some of the best places to experience fall in North Carolina!

Best places for fall in North Carolina
Best places for fall in North Carolina

What are your favorite places for fall foliage in North Carolina? Let us know the best cities, towns, parks, and attractions that are amazing for NC leaf-peeping opportunities in the comments. Thanks!

Best Places for Fall in North Carolina

Biltmore Estate 

The 8,000-acres of Blue Ridge Mountain grandeur at Biltmore is without a doubt one of the best spots to see enjoy fall in North Carolina.

The spots are just indescribably good for taking the very best fall foliage photos. It’s advised to take a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway or visit the grounds of Biltmore to experience it at its best. (The Blue Ridge Parkway is, of course, one of the most beautiful drives in the US and it really shines during the fall).

Biltmore Estate in fall via Jennifer Boyer (CC BY-ND 2.0 Flickr)
Biltmore Estate in fall via Jennifer Boyer (CC BY-ND 2.0 Flickr)

Asheville, NC is almost always associated with the Biltmore Estate. The house is absolutely stunning, surrounded by vivid autumn hues, and picturesque vistas.

Don’t miss checking out the Biltmore Winery for a taste of some delicious local wines while you’re there.

One of the best places to spot the North Carolina fall foliage is at the “Top of the Esplanade”, where you can see the Diana statue. It’s framed by giant hemlocks, pines, and rhododendrons, and offers a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. 

Uwharrie National Forest

Home to the continent’s oldest mountains, the Uwharrie National Forest is about an hour’s drive from both Charlotte and Greensboro.

This area has numerous miles of trails, out of which the 9.5-mile Dutchman’s Creek Trail and the 20.5-mile Uwharrie Trail are great for some picturesque and colorful fall backpacking trips.

Uwharrie National Forest
Uwharrie National Forest

Another awesome hiking location is the Uwharrie Trail’s newest expansion, which is especially great during the fall. The route begins at the Jumpin’ Off Rock trailhead and follows a creek for a short distance before ascending Little Long Mountain for the best view in Uwharrie!

As the trail continues north, it reaches the highest point on the Uwharrie Trail, the 1,020-foot King Mountain. Along the way, there are a lot of good fall foliage viewing spots.

Aside from outdoor adventures, the national forest also has campsites at the Badin Lake Campground, which are amazing for some scenic lakeside adventures and grant the chance to spend more than one day in the forest.

Little Switzerland

Little Switzerland of North Carolina got its unique name from the resemblance of the area to the mountains of Switzerland.

If you’re familiar with the unimaginably beautiful nature (and fall!) in Switzerland, you will quickly understand why this is one of North Carolina’s most coveted spots during autumn! Mostly toward the end of October, the NC fall colors reach their peak here.

Little Switzerland
Little Switzerland

Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, it provides breathtaking views of Mt. Mitchell, Table Rock, Grandfather Mountain, and more. 

One of the top recommendations when visiting this area is to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while, shifting elevations and orientation north-south.

If you manage to do that around the middle to end of October, be sure that you’ll most likely be viewing one of the best spots for leaf-peeping in North Carolina, and the Eastern United States!

Chimney Rock

The fall foliage display is an autumn event that attracts a lot of attention in western North Carolina, especially the Chimney Rock area.

The Blue Ridge Mountains boasts one of the longest fall color seasons in the United States, with peaks ranging from 1,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level. Fall colors usually start high in the mountains and gradually descend to the lower lands. 

Hiking trails in the park range from easy strolls for kids and beginners to moderate to hard hikes. The Hickory Nut Falls Route is one of the most popular walks in the area.

Chimney Rock views
Chimney Rock views

Note that for those unable to hike, an elevator is also available to take you 2,280 feet up to the top of Chimney Rock.

Once you reach the amazing 75-mile panoramic views of the Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure, and the Blue Ridge Foothills, get ready to take in the pleasure of the incredibly rich fall colors. 

Blowing Rock

Blowing Rock, North Carolina’s oldest tourist attraction, is located 3 miles off the parkway on US Route 321. This drive will take at least an hour and 45 minutes one way, of course, depending on how many stops you make it will take longer. 

The picturesque mountain village of Blowing Rock feels like something straight out of a dream. With its small main street, attractive shops, restaurants, and bars, the NC small town has many stories to tell!

Blowing Rock
Blowing Rock

There are some spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in almost every direction, making it an excellent place to go leaf-peeping.

Many say that Blowing Rock is full of everything “fallish” and it is, without a doubt, one of the best sites in the Carolinas to enjoy the fall foliage.

If you’re in the area, go to the Parkway’s middle section, which runs for 92 miles, from Blowing Rock to Asheville. Also, in case you’re into taking some great foliage photos, visit Price Lake and the simple 2-mile trail, situated around the lake. 

Grandfather Mountain

This is the tallest mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Grandfather Mountain is a popular year-round destination not just for nature lovers, but also for climbers and hikers. 

The NC mountain offers spectacular views in every direction from about 6,000 feet above sea level. Because of the changing colors during the fall season, this well-known destination becomes even more popular during the season.

Grandfather Mountain
Grandfather Mountain

Also, because of its height, Grandfather Mountain is one of the first peaks to begin showing fall colors and is one of the best destinations in North Carolina to witness fall early.

If you’re feeling particularly courageous, you can cross the Mile High Swinging Bridge, which promises even more spectacular vistas. This is the ultimate place to experience fall in North Carolina!

Banner Elk is a beautiful North Carolina mountain village with a lot of fall color. You can see the changing hues there from late September until the end of October because the altitude of Banner Elk is 3,701 feet above sea level.

Get acquainted with the Banner Elk through multiple hikes that you can partake in there. If you prefer being on the water, jump in a canoe or kayak and paddle around Wildcat Lake. 

Fall colors near Banner Elk
Fall colors near Banner Elk

This small NC town is located high in the state’s northwestern region and is just a fantastic option to spend your time in, especially if you’re a fall foliage lover. It is one of the best places to watch the leaves change colors in NC.

Banner Elk also has a famous fall festival called the Woolly Worm Festival. It takes place in mid-October and celebrates the season with woolly worm races, a lot of entertainment, food, and craft vendors downtown.

Sugar Mountain

Nestled high in the North Carolina mountains, Sugar Mountain has the best views for those looking for early-season foliage. This area is considered to be the hub of the High Country’s amazing scenery and activities.

Sugar Mountain is a great base camp for fall mountain expeditions as it is surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Blue Ridge’s tallest peaks.

Sugar Mountain
Sugar Mountain

Some of the most stunning fall drives in the country may be found in the Sugar Mountain area. The Blue Ridge Parkway, which is part of the National Park Service, is one of America’s most beloved drives.

You can hop on it from Sugar Mountain and see spectacular places such as the Linn Cove Viaduct, Moses Cone Park, Price Lake, and Linville Falls.

Table Rock 

Located about 15 miles southwest of Caesar’s Head, Table Rock provides a lovely backdrop for fall colors. There are miles of hiking routes, including the Pinnacle Mountain Trail, which connects to the aforementioned Foothills Trail and offers plenty of leaf-peeping opportunities.

The towering top of Table Rock is visible throughout the Morganton area and has the title of  “the most visible symbol in the region.”

Early fall view from Table Rock
Early fall view from Table Rock

For a challenging but unforgettable hike, try the 1.1-mile trek to the summit, which offers amazing views of the Linville Gorge below. 

Table Rock has a variety of cabins and camping sites that serve as an amazing base for peak viewing season. However, note that those should be booked well ahead of peak viewing season (the booking process starts 13 months in advance).

Asheville

When it comes to finding a base for seeing the mountains of Western North Carolina, Asheville is the place to go. There are countless attractions in Asheville to take some really good, Instagram-worthy photos of the magnificent fall colors.

And there is SO much to do in Asheville (including some top-notch restaurants). This is also where the Biltmore Estate is located.

Asheville in fall
Asheville in fall

Another popular thing to do in Asheville is to enjoy the craft beer scene.  You can also take day trips to the waterfalls near Asheville which offer some of the best fall foliage in North Carolina.  

Pilot Mountain State Park 

Pilot Mountain State Park is a very popular spot for hiking, biking, and rock climbing. It’s located northwest of Winston-Salem.

The peak of Pilot Mountain is, of course, the most popular attraction within the park. And as you might’ve already guessed, the views from the top are insanely beautiful during fall!

Pilot Mountain State Park 
Pilot Mountain State Park

The picnic area in the park has an accessible walkway, and there is handicap-accessible parking at the peak and at the visitor center. You can purchase tickets at the visitor center or reserve a shuttle seat online. 

Moreover, in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley, you might combine enjoying the fall foliage with wine-tasting along the Surry County Wine Trail.

These are some of the best locations for fall in North Carolina. Did we miss any amazing spots for fall foliage in North Carolina? Please let us know in the comments! Thanks!

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There are many fantastic places to experience fall in North Carolina. This is a guide to the best places for fall foliage in North Carolina - including state parks and more! | North Carolina fall | North Carolina fall foliage | Places to visit in North Carolina | North Carolina in autumn | Autumn in North Carolina | Leaf peeping in North Carolina

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