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When is peak leaf season in North Carolina? Here's what you need to know.
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When is peak leaf season in North Carolina? Here's what you need to know.

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It’s September, which means leaf season is right around the corner.

High Country Host of North Carolina, the visitor information clearinghouse for the mountains, has released its annual peak color for fall foliage report.

Leaf color is dependent on the amount of rain, wind and temperatures that occur during September and October. The colors start changing in the higher elevations first because of cooler temperatures.

Here is what High Country Host is saying about fall color:

Last week of September: 6,000-foot elevation, Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain.

First week of October: 5,000-foot elevation, Beech Mountain; Rough Ridge Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, milepost 302.9.

Second week of October: 4,000-foot elevation, Banner Elk; Jumpingoff Rocks Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, milepost 260.3.

Third week of October: 3,000-foot elevation, Boone; Blowing Rock; West Jefferson; Price Lake, Blue Ridge Parkway, milepost 297.

Fourth Week of October: 2,000-foot elevation, Wilkesboro; Stone Mountain State Park; Yadkin Valley Overlook Blue Ridge Parkway, milepost 289.8.

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To read the full report, go to and click on 2021 Fall Leaf Color N.C. Mountains Forecast and Report.

In addition to High Country Host, here are some other sites that can help you plan your leaf-watching adventure:

The Appalachian State University Department of Biology’s site,, has a fall color map and articles on leaf color.

Grandfather Mountain,, will have daily posts and photos on how the leaf colors are changing beginning later this month.

Sugar Mountain,, posts weekly photos and updates about the colors in the area.

The Fall Color Guy at ASU posted in late August that he had driven the Blue Ridge Parkway from Blowing Rock to the Linn Cove Viaduct and noticed that some red maples had begun to turn.

The Fall Color Guy also had this prediction about the colors this fall:

“So far, we are in good shape with regard to the upcoming fall color season. We are not in a drought situation, we haven’t had unusually extreme temperatures, and the trees are looking good after a fairly mild summer.

“I predict that if the weather continues to behave (and I have had some long discussions with Mother Nature about this!), we should have an excellent fall color season this year. What happens in mid- to late-September and the first two weeks of October will be crucial.

“If unusually warm or rainy, expect duller colors and a later peak. If cool and sunny, then expect on-time peak color and brighter colors.”


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