LINVILLE — As the Blue Ridge Mountains begin to burst with fall color, Grandfather Mountain invites leaf-lookers to see the brilliant change from one of the best leaf-looking destinations in the South.
Grandfather Mountain is home to myriad species of plants and hardwood trees that range from pumpkin-colored beech trees to blood-red sourwoods and rusty red oaks.
For a surefire glimpse of the autumnal brilliance, leaf-lookers can partake in Grandfather’s Fall Color Ramble, a series of guided walks through the mountain’s most colorful locations. These easygoing rambles, led by members of the park’s naturalist staff, give guests an opportunity to learn more about color change and explore the species of plants and trees native to Grandfather Mountain.
Participants will become more familiar with tree identification and will be able to ask questions about the annual color-changing phenomenon.
“Our goal is to inspire inquiry,” said Amy Renfranz, director of education and natural resources for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Linville nature park. “During the ramble, we want our guests to explore more and learn more, so they can fully appreciate the beauty they’re seeing.”
The walks will be offered daily, Oct. 1 to 12, at 1 p.m. and are included with admission. Since the starting location will vary day to day, those planning to participate should inquire at the park’s entrance gate upon arrival.
The Fall Color Ramble culminates with a celebration of fall color on Saturday, Oct. 13, featuring nature programs for all ages, including leaf-printing for children, and guided hikes for guests of all ages and abilities.
“If you’re interested in learning about the natural phenomenon of fall colors and the changing of leaves, you’re in luck,” Renfranz said.
Hikes will be offered throughout the day, starting at the Nature Museum. The park will also host special guests from the U.S. Forest Service and the scientific community, including Dr. Howie Neufeld, professor of biology at Appalachian State University and North Carolina’s esteemed “Fall Color Guy.”
“The ramble will help bring to light why fall color is such a spectacular time of year,” Renfranz said.
Those unable to attend the ramble needn’t worry, though. All throughout October and possibly beyond, the mountain will offer an ample display of fall color — even after the local leaves have peaked.
“You’re essentially able to see the entire season unfold before your eyes,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “Autumn always look spectacular from a mile high.”
In addition to the programs offered inside the park in October, fresh fall color photos are posted daily throughout the month on the mountain’s website and social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For information, call 800-468-7325, or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.
Frank Ruggiero is the director of marketing and communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.