Best Places to See Fall Color in Maggie Valley

I usually write about Fall Color this time of year, so I thought I would do a timely update.  Due to the dry spell we’ve been having, color seems to be delayed a bit this year.  Hopefully it will kick in during the next couple of weeks.  Below I am paraphrasing an article from about the best places to see fall color in Maggie Valley, NC.

  1. The Blue Ridge Parkway-  Enter from Soco Road and go about 10 minutes west on Soco Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Two choices once you get there: First, go toward Cherokee and you will have beautiful vistas of tall mountains.  Take the first right onto Heintooga Road to see some great views off the overlooks.  The paved Heintooga Road ends at a picnic area, but for the adventurous there is a one lane gravel road (almost like a driveway) that runs from the end of the paved road downhill into Cherokee.  (This is called the Heintooga Round Bottom Road.)  You could also go back down the paved road to the Blue Ridge Parkway, turn right and continue to toward Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  2.  Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park-  The season for fall color in Cataloochee Valley is a little later due to its lower elevation.  This makes Cataloochee Valley a great place for viewing in late October.  Also, this is where the Elk have been reintroduced.  During fall you can hear the unforgettable sounds of the bull elk bugling to attract cows during their mating season.
  3.  Max Patch- Often called the crown jewel of the Appalachians, Max Patch is a beautiful 5000 ft. elevation bald in Haywood County.  Travel Hwy 209 from Waynesville toward Hot Springs, NC.  At Ferguson’s Store, Hwy 209 turns right; stay straight and the road becomes Max Patch Road.  The road is paved for a ways, then turns to gravel travelling up the mountain. Look for a small parking area on the right.  There is a loop trail that leads to the top and open views from the bald.  Charlie Ballentine, a long-time pilot from Waynesville told stories of landing here on this bald in a bi-plane many years ago and taking locals for plane rides for 50 cents a person.  Truly this was barn-storming in its heyday.
  4.  Big Creek- This is an area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park accessed off I-40 at the NC/TN state line at mile marker 451.  Follow the paved road down hill and over the river bridge.  Go left and pass the Waterville Power Plant, the stay straight into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Big Creek Area.  Many trails to choose from here, but the one from the parking area toward Walnut Bottoms is a wonder fall trail following Big Creek and eventually treating you to Midnight Hole, where young people swim in the summer, and Mouse Creek Waterfall on up the trail.
  5.  Purchase Knob- Travel Hwy 276 north to left on Hemphill Road.  Follow Hemphill Road to the end by a gate that accesses the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  From the gate you must walk up the gravel road for maybe one mile to access the open fields on Purchase Knob.  The purchase knob property was donated to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by a family who owned this property off Purchase Knob and donated the land and home for the public’s enjoyment.  I, for one, am very happy they donated this gorgeous hunk of Haywood County to the park.
  6.  West fork of the Pigeon River/ Hwy 215- Take Hwy 215 from downtown Canton South.  You will travel through the Bethel Community which is a pastoral farming community, continue on Hwy 215 past Lake Logan, on up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, passing a beautiful waterfall over a stone arch bridge on the way up the mountain.
  7.  Black Balsam Knob- When you travel up Hwy 215 (just above) continue to the Blue Ridge Parkway, then go left toward Asheville.  At milepost 420 turn left on the paved spur road.  This will take you to a parking area in the Pisgah National Forest.  From this high elevation parking area there are many beautiful hiking trails you an access.

These are my favorites, let me know yours, and thanks for reading!