Your High Country Fall Color Guide

After a hot summer, it’s finally that time of year again: cooler temperatures and bright, fall colors. Thankfully for us, Lees-McRae is centered in the heart of some of the best leaf-looking in all of North Carolina. With the Blue Ridge Parkway, a wealth of mountain peaks (such as Beech, Sugar, and Grandfather mountains just to name a few), deep valleys, and quaint mountain towns right outside your campus door, a great view of this special time of year is just a short drive or walk away.

Take a look at this quick compilation of the best High Country views before you head out on your next adventure.


Grandfather Mountain Profile Trail
Travel Time: 10 Minute Drive from Campus
The Activity: Hiking and Camping

This hike is a must for students and families visiting the area. With a paved parking lot and a welcome center, the trailhead is super easy to access. This can be an out-and-back hike or you can apply for a permit to camp at the campsite located on the trail. While hiking up to the top of Grandfather Mountain you will experience views that show you how the mountain got its name.

Linn Cove Viaduct
Travel Time: 25 Minute Drive from Campus
The Activity: Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

This is one of the most historic and iconic drives in the area. The Linn Cove Viaduct is an engineering marvel that was built to make sure no roads cut through Grandfather Mountain, preserving it as nature intended. Stop at the Linn Cove Visitor Center to learn the history of its construction. 

Rough Ridge
Travel Time: 30 Minute Drive from Campus
The Activity: A Quick Hike

This wonderful hike is located right past the Linn Cove Viaduct and is a perfect add-on. Pull off the parkway into the designated parking lot and start your 2.2-mile hike. There is a mixture of trail and boardwalk with a gradual increase of elevation to spectacular views. You’ll gather more views of Grandfather Mountain and be able to gaze off towards the valleys of the Piedmont. This hike is an-out-and back but does connect to other trails if you wish to extend your journey. 

Linville Falls in the Linville Gorge
Travel Time: 35 Minute Drive from Campus
The Activity: Hiking and Swimming (for the brave)

The Linville Falls are probably the most photographed waterfalls in North Carolina. The falls have a 90-foot drop into the Linville Gorge. The trails surrounding the falls allow you to access five view-points ensuring a unique shot every time. There are two trails that stem off the visitor center parking lot and are easy for all ages. For those that don’t mind a chilly dip, visitors can swim in one of the surrounding creeks in the area. Just be sure to only swim in areas marked safe to do so.

Downtown Valle Crucis
Travel Time: 16 Minute Drive from Campus
The Activity: Driving and Walking

Start this drive off by visiting the historic Mast General Store, which opened its doors in the 1880’s and still serves as the Valle Crucis town post office. Then drive up Highway 194 through the small town of Matney. Along this highway, you see vast valleys as you head back toward Lees-McRae.

Sean McCoy is the Social Media Specialist in the Lees-McRae Admission Department.


By Sean McCoyOctober 09, 2018
CommunityCampus Life