• Eric H

The Most Colorful Time of the Year

The vivid colors of fall along the Cullasaja River

The mountains of Western North Carolina are about to go through their annual transformation from the green of summer to the red, yellow, and orange of fall. Whether you like to explore the trails on foot or you prefer to drive the scenic byways for your leaf peeping adventures, the Franklin & Nantahala area is home to some of the most famous trails and roads in the south. The Appalachian Trail winds it's way from Georgia into the southern Nantahala Mountains, climbing up the many balds, where fall foliage can be seen in all directions. Wayah Bald is one of the most popular spots for leaf looking, as it is accessible to hikers and you can drive nearly up to the Wayah Bald Tower, where there is only a short walk up a paved path to breathtaking views.

Miles of scenic drives in and around Franklin & Nantahala

The beauty of fall can be seen all around and the varying elevation from Franklin to Nantahala means the changing leaves will cascade down the mountain tops and into the valleys like a colorful waterfall. We're already starting to see some color shifting at the highest elevations of the mountains, but it is still mostly green.

Fall makes it's way down the tops of the mountains to the valleys below

Some of the best places around to start your leaf peeping adventures are the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, which runs from Franklin to Nantahala up over Wayah Gap via Wayah Road. This route takes you through the heart of the Appalachian Trail, where you can decide whether you want to hike to Siler Bald, drive up to Wayah Bald, or continue on to Nantahala for the towering tops of the river gorge.

The Nantahala River winds through the narrow gorge in Nantahala

Another stunning drive is from Franklin to Highlands on US 64 East. Also known as the "Waterfall Highway", the drive up through the Cullasaja River Gorge is one of the most stunning 15 miles of road, mountains, and waterfalls in Western North Carolina.

On of the many pull offs along the Cullasaja River

As you pass numerous pull offs along the route up through the gorge, make sure you stop and explore the sights of the Cullasaja River. There are so many little charming spots to stop and discover what Mother Nature has been up to. You can pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the area at one of the many picnic spots. Don't forget to stop and enjoy the beautiful waterfalls along the way as well. Dry Falls is by far the most popular waterfall in the area and a definite must-see stop.

View of Dry Falls from the observation deck

View of Dry Falls via the paved path

Now't the time to start planning your fall leaf looking adventures and our Franklin & Nantahala websites are your go to sources for all there is to do and see here in Western North Carolina and beyond! |

About Franklin & Nantahala

Nestled in NC’s southern mountains, in the foothills of the Great Smokies. The Franklin & Nantahala NC areas offer a never-ending supply of things to do, for adults AND kids of all ages! Whether you're looking to get away to the pristine waters of Nantahala Lake, or you're looking for a small town adventure with world class entertainment, you're sure to find something for the whole family.


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