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Fall Color Guy: Leaf Color Starting To Show at Higher Elevations; Grandfather Mountain Hosts Color Walk Series

This photo was taken at Grandfather Mountain on Thursday afternoon. Photo by Kellen Short | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

By Jesse Wood

Sept. 18, 2014. Howard Neufeld, the “Fall Color Guy” at Appalachian State University, noted in his latest report on Sunday that September’s relatively cool weather should contribute to some nice fall colors if the clouds would move out of the way for the sun.

“So far, contrary to the recent climate outlook, September has not been excessively warm in the High Country. In fact, it was really cool and cloudy today, with temperatures only in the high 50s. If these cool temperatures persist, and we see a little more sun, we should be on track for good fall color,” Neufeld wrote.

He introduced his most recent “Fall Color Report” by writing: “This week is the first in which I can report the leaves they are a’changing; at least at the highest elevations.”

Conceived by Howard Neufeld and Michael Denslow; Map Constructed by Michael Denslow - Appalachian State University
Conceived by Howard Neufeld and Michael Denslow; Map Constructed by Michael Denslow – Appalachian State University

Neufeld mentioned that Jesse Pope, the director of education and natural resources for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, noted that while trees below 4,000 feet are predominantly green, visible leaf color is “starting to show up” at the higher elevations between 4,000 and 5,000 feet.

Neufeld said that burning bushes continue to redden ahead of schedule and that Virginia Creeper vine was “essentially all green” the prior week yet began turning redder with each passing day – about a week or two earlier than in past years.

He added that more red maples continue to “add splotches of color.”

“What is unusual about most of these red maples, many of which are varieties of urban trees planted for their fall leaf color display, is the extremely dull red of the leaves so far. Generally, red maples end up a bright red color. Perhaps these dull red leaves will brighten up in the next few weeks, something I will keep an eye on,” Neufeld wrote.

Follow his weekly “Fall Color Report” on Facebook and look for numerous updates throughout the week.

Kellen Short, a spokesperson at Grandfather Mountain, noted that most of trees remain green on Grandfather Mountain as of Thursday.

“But we are seeing a select few that are already well into the color-change process. Many others are showing subtle changes from the deep green of summer to a lighter, yellow-green,” Short wrote in an email.

The following is a release from Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation:

Grandfather Mountain jaunts showcase fall foliage

Sept. 18, 2014. As fall approaches the Blue Ridge Mountains, Grandfather Mountain remains one of the best leaf-looking destinations in the South. One way guests can enjoy fall foliage this season is Grandfather’s guided walk series, “The Colors of Grandfather,” offered on October 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19.

Grandfather Mountain is home to numerous species of plants and hardwood trees that range from pumpkin-colored beech trees to blood-red sourwoods and rusty red oaks.

“We’re seeing a few early changes happening now, but we still expect the peak viewing opportunities to occur at Grandfather Mountain in the first to second week of October,” said Jesse Pope, director of education and natural resources. “If we experience a pattern of cool, crisp nights and bright sunny days for the next couple of weeks, we’ll be well-positioned for a spectacular fall color season.”

This photo depicts some of the color that has arrived to Grandfather Mountain so far. Photo by Kellen Short | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

“The Colors of Grandfather” will visit various locations around Grandfather Mountain to showcase a spectacular contrast of stunning autumn hues. These guided walks, led by members of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation’s educational staff, give guests an opportunity to learn more about color change and explore the species of plants and trees native to Grandfather Mountain. Participants will become more familiar with tree identification and will be able to ask questions about the annual color-changing phenomenon.

The programs begin at 1 p.m. and are included with regular admission. For more information about “The Colors of Grandfather,” call 800-468-7325 or visit www.grandfather.com.

In addition to the programs offered inside the park in October, fresh fall color photos are posted daily throughout the month on the Mountain’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account. These postings include up-to-date reports on leaf-looking conditions, helpful tips for visiting the area in fall and the best routes for finding the brightest trees.

For the first time this year, Grandfather Mountain will also offer a fall foliage photo contest on Instagram. Park guests can share their best shot taken inside the park on the social network and tag @grandfathermtn or #gfmfallcolors to enter the contest. The person who takes the best photograph, as selected by staff, will win a Grandfather Mountain prize package that includes an 8 x 10 Hugh Morton print.

The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325 or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.