Blue Ridge Mountains in Fall Guide
(Arranged by State)
- Brasstown Bald
- Richard B Russell Scenic Highway
- Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
- Fort Mountain State Park
- Black Rock Mountain State Park
- Grayveyard Fields
- Beech Mountain
- Grandfather Mountain State Park
- Clingmans Dome
- Julian Price Memoria Park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Roan Mountain State Park
- Cherokee National Forest
- Tennessee Valley Railroad
- Grayson Highlands State Park
- Shenandoah National Park
- Mabry Mill
- Hungry Mother State Park
- Natural Bridge State Park
Fall in GA
1. Brasstown Bald
You can probably imagine the jaw-dropping views from up there, right?
Make that hike in Autumn and you’ll be blown away by the 360° views of the Blue Ridge Mountains range decked out in prime North GA Fall glory.
If you’re up for a hike to the top, be ready for a half-mile, strenuous uphill climb to get your leaf-peeping fix.
If not, you can jump on the shuttle provided by the park! Once you’re up there, you can enjoy views of Fall in Georgia as well as North Carolina and Tennessee.
2. Richard B Russell Scenic Hwy
This short (but well worth the drive) scenic highway is a perfect place to do a little leaf-peeping. Starting in Blairsville GA, folks can cruise the 17.6-mile road that leads to the quirky Alpine town of Helen GA.
The winding road through the mountains is surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Though dense and lush in the Summer, the trees begin to transform in Autumn, showing off their red, orange, and gold leaves.
All of which you can see from the comfort of your vehicle, or at the various overlooks along the way.
3. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Catch the historic train at the depot in Downtown Blue Ridge GA. Then kick back for a 26-mile round-trip journey along the Toccoa River, with a stop in the lovely twin towns of McCaysville GA and Copperhill TN.
If you take this trip in the Georgia Fall, you’ll get to see the wondrous Autumn colors of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the comfort of your own carriage.
There are open coaches, closed coaches, and even a premier coach if you’re feeling fancy.
Blue Ridge Fall foliage rides take place from late September into early November. Check out their website for details on tickets, and take a look at their special Thanksgiving and Christmas trips, too.
READ MORE: 25 Fun Things To Do in Georgia for Fall
4. Fort Mountain State Park
Hikers, mountain bikers, and leaf-peepers alike love to head to Fort Mountain State Park in the Fall.
There are several overlooks along this trail that are perfect for catching views of the surrounding Fall vistas, and there’s a multi-tiered North Georgia waterfall on Goldmine Branch Creek.
5. Black Rock Mountain State Park
As Georgia’s highest-elevation State Park, Black Rock Mountain State Park is the perfect place to spy some spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Fall.
There are a number of great hiking trails here, including the 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail, which offers excellent sunset views.
If you’re interested in an epic all-day trek, check out the 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail.
Not a big hiker? No problem! Just driving through the park, exploring the Visitor Center, and/or having a picnic at Black Rock Lake will give you plenty of Fall foliage to marvel at.
Fall in NC
6. Graveyard Fields
Named after the tree stumps that were left behind after a terrible storm blew through centuries ago, Graveyard Fields is a prime place for leaf-peepers.
There’s a trail that leads hikers to two stunning waterfalls, which are framed beautifully in the NC Fall by the red and gold leaves of the forest.
The first waterfall is just 1/3 of a mile along the trail, with is a viewing deck where you can get a perfect photo. Although it’s a short walk, it does require some uphill leg work.
From this point you can head back to your car, or continue on the 4-mile Graveyard Fields Loop to see the Upper Falls. This is mostly a level hike, but does have a section of strenuous uphill climbing.
7. Beech Mountain
There are all kinds of activities and amenities on offer to visitors at the Beech Mountain resort.
You’ll find chair lifts, hiking trails, mountain biking, restaurants with to-die-for views, and even cabin rentals if you want to stay a few days.
READ MORE: The 25 Best Pumpkin Patches in NC
8. Grandfather Mountain State Park
It spreads over 2,500 acres, and is home to the iconic 5946-foot-tall landmark that is Grandfather Mountain.
Located in Banner Elk NC, Grandfather Mountain offers 12 miles of hiking trails that offer jaw-dropping views of North Carolina in full Fall glory.
We trekked to the top of Grandfather Mountain, and it was certainly a challenging, yet incredibly rewarding hike.
Whether you’re taking in the vistas from the summit or enjoying being blanketed in Fall colors along the trails, Grandfather Mountain simply cannot be missed this Autumn.
9. Clingmans Dome
You can actually drive almost all the way up to the summit, giving those who are unable to hike uphill a chance to see something really special.
Those who want to go the extra mile can park near the Visitor Center and continue up a paved, yet deceptively steep hiking trail to the 45-foot high lookout tower.
The trail is only half a mile, but we saw several people on the way up who were clearly wondering if the climb would be worth it. In our experience, it DEFINITELY is!
At 6,643 feet above sea level, Clingmans Dome will give leaf-peepers some of the earliest views of the breathtaking North Carolina Fall colors, which we rank among the best of the Blue Ridge Fall foliage.
READ MORE: The 25 Best Pumpkin Patches in NC
10. Julian Price Memorial Park
We’ve just returned from our latest camping trip to Julian Price Memorial Park. But I’m longing to return when the park’s mountain lake, bold creeks, and stunning forests will be bejeweled by Fall colors.
We did a lot of hiking in the park, completing the Boone Fork Trail, Green Knob Trail, Price Lake Trail, and a section of the Tanawah Trail. It was beautiful, but I can only imagine those scenes in peak Autumn.
Both of these destinations would easily make our Top 10 list of places to see fantastic Fall foliage in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Fall in TN
11. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are a million reasons to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park at any time of year, but even more so in Autumn.
Driving along Newfound Gap Road will have you traveling through a tunnel of sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweet gum, red maple, and hickory trees, all showing off their Fall flair.
You can take a drive around the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, then head over to Cades Cove for chance at spotting wildlife and seeing some really awesome views.
If you want to see the colors of Appalachian Autumn up close, take this chance to hike a section of the awe-inspiring Appalachian Trail.
12. Roan Mountain State Park
Roan Mountain State Park encompasses around 2,000 acres at the base of Roan Mountain.
Take the Raven Rock Trail for a hike through the forest and a spectacular view of Fall in the mountains of TN.
A few of the hiking trails wind alongside the Doe River, giving you beautiful waterside views against an autumnal backdrop. These include the Barewallow Trail, our favorite Roan Mountain hiking trail.
The Miller Farmstead would be a gorgeous place to visit in the TN Fall, when the old farmhouse, hen house, and barns pop against the colorful trees that surround them.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Places to See Fall in Tennessee
13. Chattanooga TN
The southeast Tennessee city of Chattanooga is a place of pilgrimage when it comes to Fall leaf-peeping.
This bustling mountain town is practically bursting with the joy of Autumn, celebrating all of the natural beauty that surrounds its urban area.
The Tennessee River runs right through Downtown Chattanooga, and offers a chance for those who aren’t up for a hike to experience the Tennessee Fall colors with minimal effort.
You can also take a Fall foliage cruise on a Riverboat to see the colorful display in complete comfort!
14. Cherokee National Forest
Autumn is a very popular time to visit this National Forest, with thousands of visitors making the trip each year to immerse themselves in the wondrous colors on display.
You can take a scenic drive through the forest and pass by verdant farmlands and sensational views of the East Tennessee mountains.
The French Broad River, the third oldest river in the world, also passes through this forest and makes for some stunning Fall photo opportunities.
15. Tennessee Valley Railroad
Autumn has never seemed so romantic as it does when viewed from an old-fashioned train chugging through the wilderness and blowing its whistle.
You’ll be taken through the Appalachian Mountains, where you can sit back, relax, and soak the beauty that will surround you.
Keep your eyes peeled and your binoculars ready for local wildlife spotting, too! This is a great activity to do as a family, with snacks and dining options on board.
Just make sure that you book your tickets in advance, as Fall is a very popular time for these scenic train rides.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Fairs in TN to Visit
Fall in VA
16. Grayson Highlands State Park
There’s an old homestead in the park where visitors can get a feel of life in the post-Civil War 19th century. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a wild pony or two.
The immense beauty of this wilderness is only intensified when Fall rolls in and blankets the park and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in a colorful tapestry.
You can also attend Grayson Highlands State Park’s annual Fall Festival, which usually happens towards the end of September.
Festival attendees can listen to live bluegrass and old-time music (cue the banjos!), enjoy southern-style BBQ, and browse rows of crafts stalls while enjoying the crisp, cool air of Fall in Virginia.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Pumpkin Patches in VA
17. Shenandoah National Park
The Blue Ridge Parkway turns into Skyline Drive in the jewel of Virginia’s crown, Shenandoah National Park.
Wherever you go in the park, there are stunning views of the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Mountains in their full VA Fall grandeur.
People flock to the park at this time of year to take in jaw-dropping views of the splendid Autumn colors that are on full display from late September into early November.
You can enjoy the spectacular scenery from the comfort of your car, or make the most of the 500 miles of hiking trails the park has to offer.
18. Mabry Mill
One of the best (and most popular) spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway for taking pictures, Mabry Mill is a must-see for anyone seeking that perfect photo of Fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Located at Milepost 176.2, Mabry Mill has so much to offer, whether you’re out for a day-trip drive on the BRP or camping nearby at Rocky Knob.
The Visitor Center has a lovely gift shop, as well as a Mabry Mill restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’re famed for their delicious buckwheat, sweet potato, and regular pancakes.
You can carb up before taking a short walk over to the early 1900s grist mill for some killer shots of the famous waterwheel against the backdrop of the Fall forest.
19. Hungry Mother State Park
My husband and I hiked the 5.7-mile Lake Trail Loop and enjoyed trekking through rhododendron, along a lake where folks were kayaking and fishing, and past a beach where kids were jumping from a diving platform.
When summer turns to Autumn, the park’s striking purple fireweed dies back and bathing suits are exchanged for jeans and hoodies.
Soon the lake will be shrouded in glowing gold, vibrant red, and vivid yellow.
It’s a great time to get some amazing Virginia Fall photos of the gem-like leaves reflected in the still waters of the mountain lake!
20. Natural Bridge State Park
It was named Virginia’s newest state park in 2016, and it’s an absolute must-see in Autumn.
Turning the corner of the trail leading from the Visitor Center and catching your first glimpse of the 215-foot-tall Natural Bridge is truly a jaw-dropping experience.
It was the depths of Summer when we visited, but the photo above gives a taste of what the bridge, creekside trail, and 30-foot-drop waterfall might look liker cloaked in the colors of Autumn. -by Emma Gallagher; lead image by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett