Looking to see some of the best fall foliage views in North Carolina? Then we’ve got an amazing roundup for you. Take a road trip into the western part of North Carolina, hitting all the most beautiful state parks and mountain views along the way. Starting in Charlotte all the way Cerhohala Skyway is over 10 hours driving so unless you have several days ahead of you we recommend you take this trip parts at a time. Either way, every stop is absolutely breathtaking and the perfect activity to cross off your fall bucket list.
1. Linn Cove Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain
Head west into the state about 2 hours and 30 minutes on I-85 S into Blue Ridge Parkway where you can drive along this seven mile stretch of road that offers some of the most stunning autumnal views in the North Carolina mountains. The Linn Cove Viaduct hugs Grandfather Mountain and considered an engineering marvel for its execution. One of the most photographed and gorgeous stretches of road, drive along or park and take a walk along one of their trails. While you’re driving, you can enjoy some of the most stunning shows Nature has to offer with a sea of gold, red, and orange trees in a neverending sea across the mountain.
2. Linville Gorge & Falls
Along Blueridge Parkway is another perfect fall foliage stop. Linville Gorge, sometimes considered the ‘Grand Canyon of Eastern USA’, is an amazing spot to pull off in your car and take a wild hike. Be prepared because Linville Gorge is a rugged area meaning that many of the hike trails are amidst the forest and not well structured. But one of the most popular trails is towards Linville Falls, the most famous waterfall in Blue Ridge Parkway.
On Blue Ridge Parkway, head towards NC-181 S for 0.8 miles before turning onto NC-183 N. Take a left onto Old N C HWY 105 for less than 3 miles and you will arrive at the falls. After walking the trail along the river and seeing the breathtaking views of the falls among the autumn leaves, head northwest on Old N C HWY 105. Merge onto NC-183 N for 3 miles before turning right onto US-221 N to arrive at Linville Gorge, another breathtaking viewpoint.
3. Chimney Rock
A little over an hour Southwest of Blueridge Parkway is Chimney Rock State Park, voted one of the most beautiful state parks in North Carolina by Travel + Leisure. For some of the most stunning fall views, we’d recommend hiking up to Exclamation Point Trail, a moderate-to-strenuous hike that climbs approximately 150 vertical feet. Don’t forget Chimney Rock’s namesake viewpoint that allows visitors to look over 75-mile panoramic views at an elevation of 2,280 feet above sea level. Hike up the 315-foot rock formation or for a less difficult journey, take the state-of-the-art elevator that goes up to the top.
Continue your stunning fall foliage road trip by heading down US-74 ALT W toward Asheville where you can stop for a bit of a breather. Enjoy some of the state’s most delicious restaurantsand breweries before continuing on to Biltmore Estate, a stunning estate that offers beautiful gardens and guided trail rides of the surrounding fall foliage. From October 1st to November 3rd, enjoy a kaleidoscope of fall colors, reds, oranges, and golds.
5. Max Patch Mountain
If you’re up for a slight detour, head about an hour north to Max Patch Mountain, a stunning hike that’s a part of the famous Appalachian National Scenic Trail. 350-acres of open land with 360-degree views. The Appalachian Trail summits Max Patch at .7 miles where you can enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the fall foliage.
6. Nantahala Gorge
Head west for around 2 hours to enjoy some equally stunning fall destinations in the Western part of the state in the Great Smoky Mountains. Be swept away by the beautiful red, golds, and oranges of Maple Trees and Crimson Oaks. Pull off to the side and take one of their open-air gondolas for sky high views or wander through forest trails among the colors.
7. Cherohala Skyway
For your last stop, head west for another 1 hour on US 129 towards US 143 to get to Cherohala Skyway, a 43- mile scenic byway. Around mid-October, the fall leaves are at their peak. While the drive may be long, there are plenty of places to stop along the way as well as 15 different scenic overlooks, ensuring you have plenty of stops.