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Waterfall Hunting During Asheville's Fall Color Season

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8 Aug 2022

Most people can agree that Western North Carolina's waterfalls are a beautiful sight to behold and well worth a walk through the woods to access these hidden gems. Similarly, Asheville's fall color season yields some of the most vibrant foliage colors in the world, creating a stunning scene. In late September, October and early November, it is common to spot visitors from near and far with their heads upturned in wonder.  So why not combine these two beautiful natural scenes on your next vacation?

Asheville's Fall Color Season

When it comes to the fall color timeline, so much depends on weather patterns and a variety of other natural factors, including elevation. In the ideal world of Asheville's fall leaf season, fall color begins in late September, peaks in Asheville and Black Mountain in mid-October and continues on until early November at lower elevations. Fall color typically peaks at higher elevations and then gradually works its way down the mountain. One great aspect of staying in the Asheville area for fall color season is that elevations up to 6,683 feet can be reached at Mount Mitchell,  and lower elevation towns such as Old Fort, Lake Lure, Lake James Marion and Chimney Rock are below 1500 feet and also just a "Sunday drive" away. 

For more specifics on Asheville's fall color, check out our Fall in the Mountains page for timelines, fall activities and more. 

Western North Carolina Waterfall Hunting

Whether you dabble in nature photography or just enjoy experiencing nature in its various seasons, waterfall hikes are a great choice during the fall season as you can catch the vibrant reds, oranges, yellows as they light up the foliage surrounding waterfalls.

If you are staying in the Black Mountain, Montreat or the Old Fort area, Catawba Falls is one of the waterfall hikes we regularly recommend. The 3-mile roundtrip hike to the 100-foot waterfall, located in Old Fort, is an easy to moderate trek depending on your comfort level with hiking at an elevation. It's also a great spot to play in the creek on the way or at the base of the waterfall. 

Further northeast, is the Linville Gorge Wilderness as well as Linville Falls, a 90-foot waterfall which can be accessed from a variety of viewpoints, including Chimney View, Erwin's View Trail, Plunge Basin

Overlook, and the hike to the base, The Linville Gorge Trail.

The 10,000 acre Dupont State Forest is often a popular destination for waterfall-lookers. Three popular waterfall hikes include Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls which are all fairly easy hikes. Some are more like a leisurely walk. The Dupont Forest also has celebrity status as being one of the locations where the movie Last of the Mohicans and series Hunger Games was filmed.  Located very close-by are also the US-276 waterfalls - Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock. Sliding Rock doubles as a natural waterslide and is staffed with lifeguards on weekends through mid-October. 

If you are vacationing in the Gateway Mountain development, the community actually has its own private waterfall area that is available to guests and addition to lake access to Lake George. 

More details about some of our favorite waterfall hikes for the fall leaf season can be found on our waterfall hiking page. Or check out some of these other waterfalls that are located within 2 hours (or less) of the Asheville area that would make an excellent addition to your fall waterfall adventures:

  • Crabtree Falls
  • Dry Falls
  • Bridal Veil Falls
  • Graveyard Falls
  • Moore Cove Falls
  • Tom Spring Falls
  • Rainbow Falls
  • Schoolhouse Falls
  • Skinny Dip Falls

There are so many ways to experience fall color in our area, and fall waterfall hikes are just one really great option to add to your Asheville vacation memory bank.