“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of Autumn leaves.”
– Joe. L. Wheeler
I grew up in New England so for me fall has always been a big deal. While South Carolina might not be known for fall foliage tours quite like Vermont and New Hampshire the changing of the seasons is not forgotten. I live near the South Carolina/North Carolina border in Greenville and am so grateful we’re just a 45 minute drive into the Foothill mountains – part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Over the past 10 years of living in Greenville I’ve witnessed my fair share of autumnal experiences and wanted to share some of my favorite places to see the leaves change in the Carolinas.
From Greenville, you can enter the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway in about 45 minutes. We’ve seen some of the most spectacular foliage around Asheville just driving along the Parkway.
There’s gravel pull-offs every mile or so along the road so if you’re dying for a shot of the trees you can always pull off and walk to a good vantage point.
When to See The Leaves: It depends on how hot and dry the summer was, but we have seen the best colors late October/early November.
2. Craggy Gardens
Another stop along the Parkway, this stop along the route is more of a park with a bit of a hike to the top. About 15 miles northeast of Asheville it does take a bit to drive, but the picnic grounds are lovely and the hike to the top of the mountain is very easy.
The hills truly come alive with the colors of fall and your best bet is to see them mid-October since the altitude is much higher up here than down near Asheville.
3. Craggy Gardens Visitor Center
Just north of Craggy Gardens there’s a stop off the Parkway with bathrooms and a parking lot. It’s a beautiful location for viewing fall foliage from a high vantage point – especially if you’re not excited about hiking the Craggy Gardens trail. Even in the late summer, this vista is still beautiful with cool breezes from the elevation and a beautiful view of the peaks and valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range.
We missed the full blast of fall colors a couple years ago, but the scene is still breathtaking.
Early to mid-October is your best bet to see the changing colors at this elevation on the Parkway.
4. Justus Orchard
Located near Hendersonville, NC, Justus Orchard is a beautiful apple orchard with the best apple cider donuts around and a beautiful mountainous view.
They have apples starting in August and are open until mid-November. Visit in late October for the perfect apple picking weather and a beautiful display of fall foliage.