Right now, if you’re traveling to Gatlinburg you’re likely spending a bit of time twisting your neck trying to catch the fall colors on your way through the Smokies. What you’re probably seeing are hints of the Gatlinburg fall foliage combined with late season greens with color appearing more frequent the higher up you travel.
The Gatlinburg Fall Foliage Experience
In other words, you might be able to tell that the Gatlinburg fall foliage is coming when the fall season starts kicking off. If you’re a weather buff, you’re watching for more sunny days and cooler nights. This is when the leaves really start changing. Much of the region is still overcoming a dryer-than-normal summer which affects fall foliage as far as when it begins and how long it lasts. Peak color in the Smokies’ lower elevations is still over a week away. Some reds have been seen in the valleys and golds appear in such species as the black walnut, birch, beech, and hickory trees. Maples and oaks are also beginning to show color in the lower elevations.
We also suggest taking to one of the many Smoky Mountain trails in order to get a better glimpse of the splendors of autumn. With so many people pouring into the Smokies this time of year, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park becomes one of the more solitary places for people wanting to get away from town and view the fall colors alone in nature.
A few easy to moderate Smokies hikes include the Lower Mount Cammerer hike, Baskins Creek Falls, the Little River, the Old Settlers trail and Porters Creeks. Those of you looking for a more challenging hike, try these next few which lead to a number of scenic overlooks – Sugarlands Mountain, the Appalachian Trail, Mt. Sterling, the Goshen Prong trail. the Foothills Parkway, Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441), the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Balsam Mountain Road and Cove Creek Road are just a few of the more scenic roadways for anyone who might want to see the Gatlinburg fall foliage but can’t or prefer not to leave their car.
Peak color season in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can occur throughout the month of October in more than one location. Places may peak earlier than others and vice versa. The marvelous colors of autumn actually light up the Smokies for seven weeks or more as the peak elevations move down the mountainsides from the highest elevations to the foothills. On average, fall color usually reaches peak at middle and lower elevations between mid-October and early November. Trees such as the sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple and hickories really stand out during this time.