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Peak Color for Leaf Season Expected to be Around the Second Weekend of October

Map courtesy of Michael Denslow of the Department of Biology at ASU.

By Harley Nefe

The leaves are starting to change at different elevations across the High Country. According to the local “Fall Color Guy,” ​​Appalachian State University biology professor Howard Neufeld, the peak color for elevations around Boone, Blowing Rock and other areas near 3,500 feet will be October 8-10. 

This prediction is a little earlier than when the average peak colors have occured over the years. Neufeld reports that the average dates for peak color are typically between October 10-20.

The vibrancy of leaf colors during the fall season depends on what the weather and temperatures throughout September were like. Many days called for clear blue skies and cool crisp mornings, which will result in brighter colors. 

Higher elevations like Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell and areas along the Avery County/Tennessee border near Roan Mountain are expected to have its peak leaf color coming up this weekend, October 1-3. 

“Over the next two weekends I expect more and more color to develop,” Neufeld said in his latest leaf color update

People in areas below 3,000 feet in elevation will start noticing peak color change from October 14 through October 21. Areas in the piedmont and Charlotte will have the highest concentration of leaf color around the final weekend of October. 

“At lower elevations, there is a mixture of maple, beech, birch that give rise to great color in mid-October. As for other sites in Western NC this week, most are still quite green. But over the next two weekends I expect more and more color to develop,” Neufeld said. 

Neufeld studies physiological plant ecology, plant water relations, ecosystem ecology, and air pollution effects on plants. He frequently posts photos, hiking tips to see great leaf color and lots of other good fall information on his Fall Color Guy Facebook page

Keep checking back with the High Country Press for updates on the fall leaf season in the mountains.

Roadway in Bear Run community in Banner Elk