Monday, August 27, 2012

Fall Color in Western North Carolina

Predicting exactly when fall color will arrive in the mountains is impossible, however some color change can start as early as mid-September in the higher elevations with the turning of yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush, and pin cherry. We usually experience an autumn leaf season of several weeks as fall colors travel down the mountain sides from high elevation to low.

From early to mid-October, fall colors develop above 4,000 feet. To enjoy them, drive the Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or the Foothills Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Fall colors generally peak at mid and lower elevations between mid-October and early November. This is a time of more colorful displays including sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple, and the hickories.

Why are fall colors so remarkable in the Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina? One reason is the amazing diversity of trees. Another reason is that the cascading of mountain views, which display a wide variety of elevation changes and outstanding colorful views.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quilt Trails in Waynesville and Haywood County, NC

Quilt Trails

The stories represent agriculture, history, charity, honor, family traditions, and so much more. The colorful patterns are instantly recognizable as being associated with quilts — those ‘icons of tradition’ that are connected to comfort, warmth, security and home. The Haywood County Quilt Trail beckons us to take to the road. You’ll experience life through the stories and traditions of our beautiful county; you might even come away with a unique life story of your own.Haywood County Quilt Trails Boone Orchard

Schools, churches, banks and a variety of other establishments are “stitching” a trail throughout Haywood County that is giving tourists the opportunity to see rural areas that they would not have had before. Vacationers are traveling to Clyde, Canton, Waynesville and Maggie Valley to see the brightly painted quilt squares while getting a taste of its heritage as they explore this Western North Carolina County that is immersed in American history. Vibrant quilt patterns are painted on pre-built wooden squares ranging from two feet to eight feet in size, creating a vibrant trail throughout the area.

Quilting as a sewing method has been an American tradition for centuries, with fabrics and patterns representing a family or story pertaining to that particular timeframe. Now, through the organization of the Quilt Trails project, the much-loved symbol of comfort, family, heritage, and community that quilting symbolizes is represented by large wooden quilt squares that have taken on the same meaning, with its patterns representing the history of the land, the building or the family.

Up-to-date information about blocks, including site locations, is available at

Article from

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Webcams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is America's most visited national park, yet many out-of-town visitors long to see the views and vistas year round. Webcams in the park provide endless opportunities for viewing any time of the day.

There are two webcams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that provide a current view of the park and information about air quality conditions. The cameras record a new image every 15 minutes. Note that a black image is due to nightfall, when a new photo cannot display.

Purchase Knob webcam
Located at high elevation on the eastern end on the park, the Purchase Knob webcam offers views to the northeast. 

Look Rock webcam
Located on the western edge of the park at mid elevation, this webcam offers views of Mount Le Conte, Clingmans Dome and Cades Cove. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Swimming Holes of Western North Carolina

A great way to experience the outdoors in Western North Carolina is to hit a local swimming hole. Here are a few options within a short drive of the Andon Reid Inn:

Skinny Dip Falls
Despite its name, Skinny Dip Falls is not a nudist sanctuary. Easy access and a stunning setting make this a must-do if passing through on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Getting There —The short half-mile trail to the falls is directly across the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Looking Glass Overlook at milepost 417.

Hooker Falls
Hooker Falls is the fourth falls on the Little River in DuPont State Forest, one of western North Carolina's new outdoor hot spots. It drops 11 feet into an Olympic-size swimming hole with a rocky, woodsy shoreline on both sides. 

Hooker Falls
Getting There - From the Hooker Falls parking lot in DuPont State Forest, located in southern Transylvania County, Hooker Falls itself is a five-minute walk down the dirt road past the gate. Stay left and follow the river. You can't miss it.

Second Falls at Graveyard Fields:
This beautiful waterfall is just short hike from the parking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a popular swimming hole to splash around in the cool mountain water. 

Second Falls at Graveyard Fields
Getting There: Take the Blue Ridge Parkway to Milepost 418.8. There is a map on the sign at the parking area. Take the trail at the lower end (right side looking away from Parkway) of the parking area. This descends down a paved path through a thick patch of rhododendron, down some steps and to a bridge. Cross the bridge, turn right along the trail until you come to the first trail intersection to the right, and descend a long flight of steps. It’s a bit rocky at the bottom, so take your time and be careful on the slick rocks.

For information about other area watering holes, here are two articles: