By Hayley Taylor

As the fun of summer comes to an end, we enter a new season of life. The summer heat begins to fade and the temperature begins to drop. The bright green tree leaves slowly turn yellow, brown, red, and orange as they float gently through the air. We have now entered autumn.

This season brings change, mystery, and wonder to the area of Western North Carolina. During this time of year, there are many things to do in Asheville and the surrounding areas. Whether you want to view the foliage from the Parkway, pick apples from a local farm, or explore Asheville in the midst of a festival, there are events for you.

Due to the varying microclimates and 6,000-foot peaks that make up the area, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains have one of the longest autumn color displays in the nation. The peak color time in the mountains is about a five-week span that begins October 3 and ends November 8. The first leaves to change are in the highest mountains north of Asheville, some include Beech Mountain, Craggy Gardens, and Mount Mitchell. These locations are about 5,000 feet above sea level. The last to change are in the foothills of Marion and Rutherfordton, and are below 1,000 feet in elevation. During this time of year, a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway is the best way to take in all that Mother Nature has to offer. If you would like to stop along the way, some of the best places to do so include Craggy Gardens, Graveyard Fields, and Mt. Mitchell.

While known for many things, North Carolina is the 7th largest apple producing state in the nation. 65% of these apples are grown in Henderson county, 25 miles south of Asheville. Along “Apple Alley” on US Highway 65 you can stop at many roadside orchards to pick your own apples, pumpkins and other farm fresh fruits/vegetables. While you are there, many have farm tours, corn mazes, and other fall festivities. A few orchards in the Hendersonville area are Grandad’s Apples, Justus Orchard, Lyda Farms, and Sky Top Orchard.

The fall is an exciting time in Asheville, and many celebrations take place in the area. Music is very important to the people of Asheville and many of the festivals that take place are music-centered. The nearest of these to the Montreat campus is the 45th annual LEAF festival, which will be held October 19-22 in Black Mountain. This year there will be over 400 artists in attendance, 6 performance stages, and over 100 vendors.

However you decide to experience Asheville in the fall, it will definitely be an adventure you will never forget…