Leaf Peeping in the Pisgah

This week I was filled with anticipation as I headed out on my first leaf peeping expedition near Asheville.  The danger in having high expectations is that I project a specific outcome on an adventure.  I have found that not many things turn out the way I envision them in my mind, this was true of this journey into the mountains to sneak a peek at the fall colors.

My research assured me that the best fall color could be found by heading north on the Blue Ridge Parkway that winds its way through the Pisgah National Forest. So I hopped on and headed north.  The weatherman assured me that the clouds would lift and skies would clear up by mid-afternoon.  Well, both assurances were a bit off.

The drive was lovely, but the leaves were more yellow-orange with not much contracts.  The winds that hit the mountains during Hurricane Maria had blow quite a few leaves away and downed a lot of trees leaving barren spots of grey.  Still looking over the Ridge was quite spectacular.

Blue Ridge Parkway

After miles of driving, it was time to step out and stretch my legs.  At milepost 364, I parked at the Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Trail head.  I never made it here in June, which is the time when the rhododendrons are in full bloom and I hear spectacular – that adventure is on the list for next summer.  I wasn’t expecting much from the 1.4 mile round trip hike.  Through the tunnels of leafless rhododendrons I went.  The strange mix of leafless trees, fog and the dense undergrowth of ferns and moss gave it the most spooky-beautiful feel.  A perfect surprise on Friday the 13th.

Craggy Gardens Spooky Hike

The sun began to come out near the top of the hike.  Off came the jacket and out came the camera. I was hopeful the clouds might break and for a moment I was rewarded with a spectacular view… briefly …

Craggy Gardens Fall Color

Then the most amazing thing happened.  The clouds began to encircle the pinnacle – just like they were giving me a hug.  Suddenly, I was completely immersed in the dense whiteness of fog or clouds or …  it was beautiful!  This picture was taken just as the clouds were beginning arrive.  It took all of about 30 seconds.  On went the jacket and away went the camera.

Craggy Gardens pinnacle with clouds

As I continued north, into the area promised to be the most colorful, I drove directly into the fog. Needless to say, I saw just one color – white.  It isn’t possible to capture on film, at least at my photographic skill level …but trust me it was gorgeous.  I cannot describe the sheer beauty of driving the Ridge in the fog- a bit scary when visibility is null, but I was the passenger, so no stress for me.

Blue ridge parkway into the fog

Life is unpredictable and my expectations could have limited my experience.  What I discovered is that getting out into nature is never disappointing.  It rises up and exceeds anything that I could possibly imagine.

6 thoughts on “Leaf Peeping in the Pisgah

    1. Did that same drive last October and was a week of peak and it still was magnificent. We started blue ridge near blowing rock, and fell in love with the town. DONT miss it!! I’m visiting ill brother in culpeper, va. Views of the ridge from here. Great choice you guys made!


      1. The entire Blue Ridge parkway is such a treasure. It never disappoints me – but is also rarely what I expect. Love the view from the motorcycle too because then you get to enjoy the sounds and smells more intensely. Enjoy your leaf peeping this year!


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