1) Fontana Lake and the Nantahala Outdoor Center
Winding around mile-high mountains in Haywood County toward the far western part of our state, this drive has plenty of color (though most of the leaves have fallen from the highest elevations). As you approach Fontana Lake, you will have the option to continue on Highway 74 toward the Nantahala Outdoor Center, or Highway 28 toward Fontana Dam. Regardless of which direction you choose, you have numerous options for activities, including:
- Mountain Biking the Tsali Trail System
- Boating on Fontana Lake
- Rafting or Kayaking in the Nantahala River
- Hiking hundreds of miles of trails, including the Appalachian Trail.
- Tent or RV Camping
2) Dupont State Forest
Dupont State Forest is located about an hour south of Asheville, toward the South Carolina border. Dupont features numerous activities, including:
- Hundreds of miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails
- Several unique waterfalls (Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, High Falls)
- Enormous granite rock faces and overlooks
- Two pristine lakes
- Photos at the Covered Bridge overlooking High Falls
3) Turtle Back Falls and Rainbow Falls
About an hour from downtown Asheville, near Brevard, Turtle Back and Rainbow Falls are features of a beautiful hike in Transylvania County. About four miles out-and-back, hikers pass the wispy Rainbow Falls on the way to Turtle Back. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the color, which will be nearing peak in early-November.
4) The Linn Cove Viaduct
Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, on the east slope of Grandfather Mountain, the Linn Cove Viaduct is a marvel of engineering. The viaduct is about an hour and a half from Asheville, but drivers will be treated to marvelous views with brilliant colors along the way. The Beacon Heights and Rough Ridge trails are short hikes with excellent valley views.
5) Crabtree Falls and Linville Falls
Traveling on the Blue Ridge toward the Linn Cove Viaduct, the Crabtree and Linville Falls areas are just over an hour from Asheville. Both areas feature stunning waterfalls, accessible by short loop hikes. Linville Falls trails also access views of the Linville Gorge, North Carolina’s “Grand Canyon.”
6) Lake James State Park
Just over and our east of Asheville, Lake James is positioned in the foothills, with views looking back toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. Due to its lower elevation, the colors change later around Lake James than the rest of the area. There are many miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the area, with RV and tent camping opportunities.