We are in peak fall weather in Raleigh, and here at Designscapes we love to go out and enjoy the autumn colors. Finding the best spots and time of year to enjoy the NC Mountains peak leaf color changes is on the top of our to-do list for this season, as well as understanding the process.
If you live in Raleigh, then traveling to the High Country region to hike Mountains like Banner Elk, Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone, West Jefferson, Wilkesboro, and Blue Ridge Parkway is a must-do activity during the fall months of early September and late November. During these months, all of the trees are going through leaf color changes based on their elevation. Here are is a breakdown by elevation:
- Last Week of September- 6,000 Elevation (Mt Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain)
- 1st Week of October- 5,000 Elevation (Beech Mountain, Rough Ridge Trail MP 302.9)
- 2nd Week of October- 4,000 Elevation (Banner Elk, Jumpingoff Rocks Trail MP 260.3)
- 3rd Week of October- 3,000 Elevation (Boone, Blowing Rock, West Jefferson, Price Lake MP 297)
- 4th Week of October- 2,000 Elevation (Wilkesboro, Stone Mountain State Park, Yadkin Valley Overlook MP 289.8)
This all works because of weather, temperature, and moisture. Weather, temperature and the longer nights in autumn all affect leaf color change. Yet, these all cause the chemical processes in the tree that affect the three pigments present in leaves: chlorophyll, carotenoids, and anthocyanins. As the autumn nights get longer, the leaves stop their food-making process. Chlorophyll, the pigment that gives leaves their green color, slows down. When this happens, the carotenoids and anthocyanins in the leaves are exposed and reveal the brilliant orange, red and yellow colors that we all crave during the fall months.
There are so many fun fall activities to do each year like pumpkin carving, apple picking and covering our houses with Halloween decorations. But don’t forget to add going out and enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature to your list. Learning and understanding how the ecosystem around us works is the perfect way to celebrate the changing of the season!