Top Ten Fall Forests

Bold Colors on the Blue Ridge: Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

The northern forests of New England and the Midwest may get most of the fall-foliage hype, but down south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the Blue Ridge puts on a vibrant show of its own. Come October, few places are more inviting than the deeply wrinkled topography around Asheville, North Carolina, most of which lies within the borders of Pisgah National Forest.

Crisp fall weather brings every shade of gold, red, and auburn to Pisgah's variegated "cove forests," the mixed-hardwood glories of the southern Appalachians. There's no better vantage on all this splendor than the hundred miles of Blue Ridge Parkway that wind through Pisgah's highlands, and the end of summer heat makes the forest's bounty of footpaths, fat-tire bike trails, horse trails, two-lane cycling routes, and paddling waters all the more inviting. Just remember: If you want to tour the Blue Ridge Parkway at this time of year, have your camping or lodging reservations made long in advance—the area is packed to the gills this time of year.

Fall Classics: Pisgah

Into the Woods:The Asheville area's just loaded with great day hikes, from a trip up Mount Mitchell to a jaunt up to Looking Glass Rock. There's great backcountry camping around Ivestor Gap. GORP Mountain Biking expert Steve Jones thinks Pisgah's got some of the best mountain biking in the nation. And if you've got a good chunk of time on your hands, the Pisgah portion of the Appalachian Trail is as rewarding an AT section hike as there is.

On the Roads: Although the Blue Ridge Parkway is the scenic champ in these parts, there are other, less crowded alternatives in the forest, such as the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway. And the Asheville area is also a fantastic destination for a road-cycling tour.

Where to Camp: Check GORP's Pisgah National Forest Guide.


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