Become a Fall Leaf Peeper
Travel to the Smoky Mountains to View the Changing Colors of Autumn
Each year about this time, we northerners transplanted into Central Florida long to see the colors of fall. Those brilliant views of mountains filled with colorful trees and the crisp mountain air lure us back year after year. We Floridians become Leaf Peepers once again. You may ask, “what is a leaf peeper?” They are those tourists who take real pleasure in viewing fall foliage, driving away from their homes to see the changing colors of autumn.
Sure, Florida has its beautiful beaches, lovely palm trees, and flowering plants, and we do have fall color in flowers and some leaves change color in January, but it’s nothing as captivating as Autumn in the mountains for sure.
Reddy and I head up the the Blue Ridge Parkway and into the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. The Appalachian Mountains showcase a variety of deep and vibrant colors and unparalleled views of fall foliage along with cooler temperatures. The season typically lasts longer there, but we find mid-October to be the best time for peeping.
Also offering spectacular views for peepers is the Cherohala Skyway west from Bryson City, NC into the eastern Tennessee mountains. The Cherohala is relatively new, dedicated as a National Scenic Byway in 1996, taking peepers to over 5400 feet above sea level. The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest offers hiking trails and bridges over streams filled with color and sounds of cool running water over the rocks of the mountain. This magnificent forest is filled with towering trees as old as 400 years. In mid October we even find snow in the those higher elevations. Now, we can’t find that in Florida.
We are planning our “peeper” trip again this year. We will stay with our friends at the Gearhead Inn in Bryson City, NC, have breakfast at one of the best places in Cherokee, NC just minutes from the entrance to the Smoky Mountain National park called Peter’s Pancakes and Waffles and also the Cork and Bean in Bryson City.
We will visit Big Witch Overlook and pick up a bushel of apples at Barbar Orchard and Fruitstand in Waynesville, NC.
In the evenings we will sit around the fire pit wrapped in coats and blankets and share a beer or sips of Feigling Vodka, and swap stories and memories with the other guests at the Gearhead Inn.
Are you interested in becoming a Peeper? Here are several hints from a seasoned peeper:
Take your time. Get out of your car and walk around. Smell the smells of the fire pit wood burning, the sweet aroma of apple cider at the orchards. Hear the sounds of fall crunching under your feet, the swirl of the wind blowing around the leaves. Take the back roads searching for those roads with hills and curves and long mountain vistas showcasing all that lovely color. Have a good map with you. Pull your car over if you’re going too slow for the guy behind and get that photo or linger over the view just a little longer. Take a picnic, sit by a waterfall, under large trees, over looking that spectacular view. Take lots of photos. If you have passengers, have them take some wonderful photos through the sun roof of your car. Feel and breathe in that wonderful cool air.
So, all of you who are now tempted to become Peepers, plan your trip to see the most spectacular colors that nature has to offer. After a long and hot summer we can’t wait to be Peepers again. Here’s hoping that you are now tempted to join us and become Peepers too.