Most Stunning Foliage: Grandfather Mountain, NC

Another fantastic view from South Side of Bridge

Another fantastic view from South Side of Bridge


A North Carolinian since I moved to the United States, I’ve always been appreciative of the diverse topography of its land and the beautiful landscape it boasts from its coastal area on the verge of Atlantic Ocean to its mountainous terrain on the western side of the states. Having been to and through the western part of the state many times, I’ve seen the mighty mountains clad in different lights, colors and atmosphere. To me, nature preens up the area the best in autumn.

It had been a while though since I last went after the autumn foliage, something started to tickle inside and I resolved this fall would be the time to undertake a foliage quest again. Some years ago when my husband and I were still dating, we went to Grandfather Mountain on a windy spring day and its landmark feature, the Mile High Swinging Bridge, was closed. Having been thinking about redemption, I unhesitatingly chose Grandfather Mountain.

For a best time to go, I called Grandfather Mountain a couple of days before this Columbus Day weekend. A lady who answered the phone told me that this would be the weekend, the colors are peaking and it is hard to tell what it would be like in the following weeks since rain storms could change things. With that insight, Saturday of this weekend was slated for a family outing to the mountains.

There is not much colors yet round home and first three fourth of the two hour drive from Mecklenburg County to Grandfather Mountain (A tortuous ‘short cut’ my husband picked with the help of his Garmin, from I85 South to US321 North, I40 West, NC181 North and finally US221 North), did not yield much change in colors either, I was skeptical about our timing.

Colors, however, started to progress the last quarter of the trip on US221 North, and dramatically so from Linville and on. It was on the peaks of Grandfather Mountains where the color scheme climaxed. The summits of the mountain yield breathtaking, panoramic vistas. Envision yourself surrounded on all sides by undulated mountain ridges in uplifting, deep red, orange, yellow and green basking under the most gorgeous blue sky and stretching infinitely into the horizon.

What more sensational foliage can one expect? Yes, you can. Follow the photo journal below to find out more.

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast


Overlook is the first viewing area after entering Grandfather Mountain. There are a couple of picnic tables, where we had lunch the last time we were here.
Divine Flora

Divine Flora

Crag Peeping Out of Blanket of Colors

Crag Peeping Out of Blanket of Colors


Cliffside Picnic Area is the largest picnic area in the park with marvelous views. If you dare to step up to the craggy rocks, you can take in even better splendor. Pack a picnic and enjoy a meal with view.
My Husband the Daredevil

My Husband the Daredevil


My husband likes the thrill of standing on the very edge of a cliff or bluff or crag. The first time it happened was at Grand Canyon, I was frantic seeing him being inches away from the thousands feet high bluff. By now, I’ve been trained and I don’t freak out as much any more but I am still nervous every time.
Lunch with View

Lunch with View

Entering Side of the Swinging Bridge

Entering Side of the Swinging Bridge

He Did It!!

He Did It!!


A challenge at the bridge…… My son thinks he is afraid of height. Well, he is, but I don’t think it is pathological and I’ve been trying to help him overcome it. I don’t want him to be a reckless daredevil but I do want him to be free of fear, as much as possible. We’ve had many trials and I succeeded many times helping him overcome it. From the Great Wall of China to the soaring tower on Clingman’s dome, highest point in the Great Smokey Mountain, between coaxing, cajoling, goading, and urging, he made it through the situations. He has been getting better and better managing it. But this is different, he said. I persisted; I told him I wouldn’t leave him behind. I guaranteed with my life he would be unharmed. He wouldn’t budge. My husband, the hands off guy, came over a few times and told me just go without him. I wouldn’t give up. Thirty minutes into it, I suggested again he walk between me and my husband, he relented. He walked between me and my husband, he was holding on to the hand rail, he seemed rigid, he couldn’t look around, but he did it. I loved the glowing smile on his face when he reached the other side of the bridge.
Sweeping scenery from South Side of Bridge

Sweeping scenery from South Side of Bridge


“There is boundless scenery on perilous peaks”, a line from Mao Zedong’s poet from 1961, reflects law of nature and dauntless spirit.
Another fantastic view from South Side of Bridge

Another fantastic view from South Side of Bridge

A Gun Injured Eagle

A Gun Injured Eagle


Grandfather Mountain Park also has a small wild life habitat. This large eagle was injured by some animal hunter, rescued and kept by the park.
An Otter

An Otter

Brow Bear

Brow Bear


Aren’t they cuddly? The brow bear grabbed its right foot and the black bear stuck out its tongue. Are they imploring for food? I would have bought some food to feed them but it was too late and the food box was locked up.
Black Bear

Black Bear

A deer with Dashing Antler

A Deer with Dashing Antler

A Cougar

A Cougar


For more info on Grandfather Mountain, see: http://www.grandfather.com/

Exiting Grandfather Mountain, we took US221 North for Blue Ridge Parkway, which is only a few minutes away. We continued on Blue Ridge Parkway North till we exited Blue Ridge Parkway for US321. On Blue Ridge Parkway we immersed into another world of magnificent spectacle. We drove through a picturesque, narrow two lane road heavily flanked on both sides by bright foliage, feeling like passing through a fairy land of some sort, till we were out of the woods and on to the open part of the parkway skirting around the mountains with grand, splendid mountain sights to one side. The ingenious Linn Cove Viaduct is on this route among other interesting lookouts.

Linn Cove Viaduct

Linn Cove Viaduct


Linn Cove Viaduct is the elevated segment of Blue Ridge Parkway. At 1243 feet long, it was built as a bridge to go around Grandfather Mountain in order to minimize environmental damage.
Linn Cove Viaduct from a Further Lookout

Linn Cove Viaduct from a Further Lookout

Wooden Bridge over a Creek

Wooden Bridge over a Creek


There is a trail accessible from this unnamed road side parking lot. It takes about twenty minutes to hike up to the top for beautiful views.
Road Side Rock Outcroppings

Road Side Rock Outcroppings


For more info on Blue Ridge Parkway, see: http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/

I would guess the foliage will be as spectacular if not more for the next two weeks. If you can make it, treat yourself and family to a great outing.

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One Response

  1. Great pictures! And Garmin rules! 🙂

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