The Spectacular Views of Fall Are Just Around the Corner

The summer like temperatures we have been experiencing in the area may make it easy to forget, but it is October.  With all the fall festivals, carnivals, and craft shows going on this month, there is something even more magical on its way:  the changing of the leaves.

It’s hard to imagine that something as simple as a green little thing loosing its ability to produce food for itself could produce such a beautiful display.  People from all over the country flock to our area just to view the most spectacular show that the changing of the season brings to our mountains.

The big question is: “When are the leaves finally going to change”?

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

According to the National Weather Service in Morristown, the end of this week is going to bring rainy and cooler temperatures.  The gradual drop in temperatures will  begin on Thursday, continuing through the weekend with a steady chance of rain.  Take heed, friends fall is finally on its way, and there is nothing that the “changing colors” love more than lots of moisture and cool temperatures.  This should accelerate the process, and before we know it, our area will be bursting with color.  According to leaf reports, peak should occur in the higher elevations after October 22nd, and here in the valley around the 29th.

There are countless opportunities in our area to enjoy the show, since we are honored to live in such a beautiful place, and we have compiled some of our favorites that are just in our back yard.

Roaring Fork, Gatlinburg, TN.

Noah Bud Ogle Cabin Roaring Fork, Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Noah Bud Ogle Cabin Roaring Fork, Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Located at stoplight eight in Gatlinburg, Roaring Fork is one of the Smokies best kept secrets.  A small, historic, settlement that was once home to some of the founders of Gatlinburg, is now part of the National Park and has been preserved for us to enjoy.  The eight mile, one way loop offers not only a glimpse in to the past, but also some prime “leafing” opportunities.  Overlooks where you can look over the valley that Gatlinburg is nestled in, peaceful drives through the woods, and historic homesteads to explore are just a few of the features that this place provides.  The trail heads of Grotto and Rainbow Falls are both located off Roaring Fork Road, or if you are feeling less adventurous, you can pull off and take time to reflect at the “Place of a Thousand Drips”.

Cataloochee Valley, NC.

Elk Inside Bugel

Cataloochee Valley is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States. Surrounded by peaks towering up to 6,000 feet, the village that is now preserved by the National Park was once one of the most prosperous in the area.  In 2001, elk were released in Cataloochee Valley as part of an experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park. The herd can be seen regularly in the fields of the valley, especially in the early morning and evening hours.  The fall is one of the most magical times to visit the valley, not only because of the foliage, but also for the “elk rut”.  The elk perform their annual mating ritual, and the males with their bugle, provide a beautifully haunting soundtrack as you explore the area.  To get to the valley from interstate I-40, exit at North Carolina exit #20 and travel 0.2 miles on route 276. Turn right onto Cove Creek Road and follow the signs 11 miles into the Cataloochee Valley.

Newfound Gap Road.

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

It goes without saying that one of the most direct ways to enjoy the Smoky Mountains is to travel straight through it.  With towering vistas that allow visitors to see for miles, and peaceful drives along mountain streams Newfound Gap Road offers some of the most breathtaking views of the fall foliage.  The main traveled highway between Gatlinburg and Cherokee may seem like a byway locals would want to avoid, but one would be missing out on what draws millions to our home every year.  When planning fall “leafing” outings, do not overlook the beauty that Newfound Gap has to offer.

The Cherohala Skyway, TN, NC.

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

The Cherohala Skyway connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee to Robbinsville, North Carolina.  It winds up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 18 miles in North Carolina and descends another 23 miles into the deeply forested back country of Tennessee. The road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name “Chero…hala”.  The countless mountain vistas make this one of the most beautiful drives in the Southeastern United States.  For the 41 miles of the Skyway, though, there are no facilities other than a couple of restrooms, so make sure you are all gassed up before making the trek.  To access the Skyway from Knoxville, travel down 129 through Alcoa and Maryville, then 411 to Madisonville.  Hop on 68 toward Tellico Plains, then continue to follow 68 to the Skyway.  It’s a small haul, but worth the drive.

Cades Cove, TN.

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

No fall foliage list would be complete without the drive through the 11 mile loop of Cades Cove.  A favorite among tourists and locals alike, Cades Cove offers so many views and places to explore.  Instead of the path most traveled, one could take Rich Mountain Road, which is a gravel road that travels over Rich Mountain from the Cove back to Townsend. Rich Mountain Road offers an overview of the Cove not seen by most tourists, and allows visitors to enjoy the beauty of the Cove on a path less traveled.  Of course, the beauty of Cades Cove is best experienced along the 11 mile loop road that winds through the settlement.  We highly recommend accessing Cades Cove via cutting through Wears Valley and Townsend.

Foothills Parkway, East, TN.

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

The Foothills Parkway East cuts between I-40 and Cosby on the northeastern border of the Great Smoky Mountains.  This section of the Foothills Parkway offers instant gratification to those looking to see the best views in the shortest amount of time.  Even though it is only 5.6 miles long, the stunning views on any of the three pullouts will make one want to linger just a bit longer.  With views of the Cosby Valley, English Mountain, and Mount Leconte, one can see what is often referred to as the Heart of the Park.  There is a direct access to Foothills Parkway east off I-40, and it ends directly on Highway 321 in Cosby.

So get out and enjoy the show that Mother Nature is about to put on!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul”.
-John Muir

Source: Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer

Jefferson Farmers Co-op 08112014