Fall Color Reports for 2023


This is our last fall color report of the season! We have had a beautiful fall here in Hickory Nut Gorge, but as we near mid-November the leaf color is winding down and the forest is preparing for winter. Color lingers on several oak species in the Park, and hickories and Fraser magnolias can still be spotted with gold and brown leaves along the Hickory Nut Falls Trail. The view of the ridgeline from the front gate or Meadows is pretty bare, as there are very few leaves left along higher elevation trails like the Skyline Trail. The most leaves remaining are in the lower section of the Park along the road, near the Discover Den, or on trails like the Great Woodland Adventure. Some views of the valley still have leaves as well.

Rainy conditions near the end of the week limited photos for this report, but if you visit the Park in the next week you can catch glimpses of this end to fall. We are looking forward to winter in the Park and we hope to see you on the trails!

Animal Discovery Den


Though at higher elevations in western North Carolina most of the leaves have gone, here in Chimney Rock we are still enjoying the end of fall color season. There is still color throughout the Park, and lower trails like the Four Seasons and Hickory Nut Falls trails are especially showing off this week. If you’re coming from Asheville or Hendersonville there may be many bare branches on your drive down, but once you reach the Gorge there is still a lot to see in the valley. Hickories and oaks are the stars of the show right now as the last trees in our forest to change. Gorgeous reds from the maples are still visible as well. You may also find some colorful sassafras along your hikes this week, particularly on the Outcroppings Trail.

View from the Meadows

The most stunning views this week are in the Meadows and looking out from the Chimney, Opera Box, or Exclamation Point. We expect this to be the last of our significant color for the season, as many trees may be losing leaves by this time next week.

View from the Opera Box this week


Peak color is right around the corner. We expect the leaves to be at their most vibrant early to mid-week next week. Today, you will find fall color views along any trail you hike in the Park, and your drive along the Park road will be lined with color as well. While there is still some green from Oaks and other “late bloomers” dotting the forest, most of our deciduous trees have already started their transformation. Views from the Chimney are gorgeous in every direction, although the views down into the low elevations from the valley are still fairly green. This is typically the last area to change each year.

The best views this week are from Exclamation Point and the Skyline Trail, but looking up at the Ridgeline from the Meadows, top parking lot, or even Chimney Rock Village will show quite a bit of color.

View from the Opera Box this week.


We are about a week or 10 days away from peak color in the Park. This week transformation has continued among the sourwoods, dogwoods, maples, and poplars. The hickories are starting to show off their yellow hues as well, and the Fraser magnolias are starting to darken to their signature brown. If you’re traveling to the Park from Asheville via US 74 or Hendersonville via US 64, your route to the Park will be lined with gorgeous color all the way down.

This week has seen significant change along the Skyline Trail, although the oaks remain green. Near the headwaters of Hickory Nut Falls and at Peregrine’s Point, color can be spotted on ridgelines across the Gorge. The view of the valley from the Opera Box is still pretty green, although pops of red maples can be seen scattered throughout. Keep an eye on oaks and sasafras in the next couple weeks, as they should begin changing soon.

View from the Opera Box this week.


We are definitely seeing progress in our leaf color here in Hickory Nut Gorge. Though there’s still plenty of green around, most trails you hike this week will feature splashes of color. The dogwoods are really on display this week with their beautiful purple leaves. Maples, particularly in the Meadows area, are showing off their reds, and the tuplip poplars are continuing to turn yellow. Fraser magnolias on the Hickory Nut Falls trail, who typically feature caramel brown leaves, are starting to change as well. You may spot some trees in the Park that appear to be two-toned, as many have Virginia creeper climbing their trunks and turning red amongst green or yellow leaves. And of course, fall wildflowers are still on display.

If you’re standing in the Meadows or at the base of Hickory Nut Falls, look up to spot some color on the Ridgeline. The Skyline Trail is the first to have consistent color, and we expect that trail to really transform over the next week. The predicition that the Park will hit peak during the last week in October seems to be holding true. See you next week!

Ridgeline View from Meadows

View from the Opera Box this week


This is our first Fall Color Report for the 2023 season! As you can see, at our elevation (about 2000′) things are still looking mostly green. However, we can see the beginnings of change on the roadside, on some of the trails, and on the ridgeline. Sourwoods are starting to get hints of red around the edges, the dogwoods are turning purple, and tulip poplars are starting to transform into their signature yellow. You can also spy some red sumac near the Chimney. The view from the Opera Box looking down into the valley is still particularly green, although some yellow poplars are visible here and there. If you’re anxious for some fall color, look down instead of up! Many of our fall wildflowers like wood aster and goldenrod are adding color to the forest floor.

We have been having some very cool evenings, and a cold snap predicted for this weekend could jump start some transformation here in the mountains. Though most predictions have us weeks away from peak color, make sure to check back here week by week as things can change very quickly in the fall. See you next week!

View from the Opera Box this week.

Check for fall color updates every Thursday!