Blog for Zipline Attraction in the Smoky Mountains

Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.


Fall Color Watch

By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on September 27, 2016

Too early to start talking about fall colors, you say? Piffle, we say. It's almost never too early to start discussing the glorious metamorphosis that our area foliage undergoes every year in the Great Smoky Mountains. It's such a big deal that October is the single busiest tourism month of the year outside the traditional summer peak-season months.

And when talking about the turning of the leaves, you have to consider that the process has already begun at the highest elevations of the Smokies. That's where it all starts, and then the transformation gradually spreads downward until the lowest elevations have caught up.

Right now, we're seeing color changes above the 4,000-foot mark, primarily in trees like the yellow birch, American beech, mountain maple, hobblebush and pin cherry. If you travel up to great vantage points like Clingmans Dome Rd., you can get some early peeks at these changes.

Overall, the kaleidoscope of fall colors in the Smoky Mountains is magnificent because of the diversity of trees. Some 100 species of native trees call the Smokies home, and the vast majority of them are deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves annually.

The timing of the fall colors always depends on multiple factors, including the amounts of sunshine and rainfall the area receives as well as the temperatures. Lately, we haven't had much rain in the Smokies, and it's been unseasonably warm, so the color show may not be as spectacular this year as in years past. But even in an off year, it's still a sight to behold and well worth a trip into the national park, where you can appreciate the color change at full impact.

Here in late September/early October, we're finally starting to cool off and get some much-needed rain. And as the days grow shorter, the lack of sunlight will cause leaves to start turning and falling. Those shorter days allow the chemical processes in tree leaves to turn them from green to shades of red, yellow and orange.

Even more notable than the leaves right now though are many of the autumn wildflowers in the Smokies, including the cardinal flower, black-eyed Susan, coreopsis, great blue lobelia, skunk goldenrod, southern harebell, ironweed, asters and even the bright fruits on trees and shrubs like the hearts-a-bustin.

For those visiting the national park in the next week or so, there are some spots in particular that are advantageous for spotting all of nature's various colorful displays. Among the lower points are Albright Grove and the Sugarland Mountain Trail, and at higher elevations, consider hikes to Andrews Bald or Mt. LeConte.

If you don't want to hoof it, you could always take a scenic drive on Parson Branch Rd., an eight-mile, one-way road that provides motorists with an opportunity to drive through a large area of mature second-growth forest and experience the quiet and solitude of nature. It's a narrow, low-speed road, so don't undertake this journey if you're in a big hurry to get to your next destination.

You know where else the colors will make for great viewing this fall? That would be at Smoky Mountain Ziplines. Our canopy tour course is built into a scenic mountainside, and we have stunning views of the Smokies range beyond our course. Our land is heavily wooded, so when the leaves turn, you'll have a front-row seat for all the cool stuff.

Of course, we also just happen to have the best ziplines Pigeon Forge has to offer, so make plans to visit us in the next few weeks and enjoy great ziplining and great views!


This content posted by Smoky Mountain Ziplines. Visit our home page, for more information on zipline adventures in the Smoky Mountains.

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