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Blue Ridge Parkway: Best stops for fall color views, hiking, waterfalls

It's the most wonderful time of the year for leaf-peepers!

NORTH CAROLINA, USA — It's the drive with views that never disappoint. It's leaf-peeping season once again along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Higher elevations like Grandfather Mountain are already starting to see bursts of color, while lower mountain regions like the Boone area will start seeing more pops of color in mid-October. 

RELATED: When will fall colors peak?

The parkway is 469 miles long, stretching from the Rockfish Gap area of Virginia down to Cherokee, North Carolina, with scenic mountain views dipping all the way into Georgia. The overlooks, hiking trails, waterfalls, and changing colors are just some of the reasons why so many people make the trip each fall. 

It's not about getting from one end to the other. It's about taking in the views and enjoying the journey. With that, here are some must-stop spots along the parkway in North Carolina - down to the milepost! The guide begins near the Boone/Blowing Rock area and goes south toward the Asheville/Brevard area. 

Milepost 294 -- Moses H. Cone Memorial Park

Take a look inside the Cone Manor and gift shop, then look out from the front porch to get a view of Bass Lake. Trails are all over the property, and you can even hike to the top of Rich Mountain (about a 5.2-mile roundtrip hike). 

Milepost 304 -- Linn Cove Viaduct 

If you want to snap a photo anywhere on the parkway, it's here! The Linn Cove Viaduct has one of the most iconic views of the Blue Ridge, and it's like you're ascending into the clouds as you drive over the viaduct. The 1,243-foot bridge was the last section of the parkway to be finished in 1987. It's a must-stop. There are also great hiking trails around the bridge. 

Credit: Tim Buckley
Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Mountains

Milepost 316 -- Linville Falls 

Linville Falls is one of the best waterfalls to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a three-tiered waterfall plunging into Linville Gorge. Take the moderate Erwin’s View Trail or the Strenuous Linville Gorge Trail to see spectacular views of the waterfall. 

Credit: Tim Buckley
Lineville Falls Milepost 320.8 along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Milepost 339 -- Crabtree Falls

The scenic 2.5-mile loop trail to Crabtree Falls is moderate to strenuous with a steep incline and rocky terrain. Hikers should allow 1.5 to 2.5 hours for the entire hike, but you'll be rewarded with a beautiful waterfall at the end! 

Credit: Tim Buckley
Crabtree Falls at Milepost 339.5 of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Milepost 355 -- Mt. Mitchell State Park 

Make a stop at Mount Mitchell State Park to ascend to the top of North Carolina's tallest mountain. Learn about the mountain's history at the museum on-site and explore the network of trails ranging from easy to challenging treks. 

Milepost 364 -- Craggy Gardens

Craggy Gardens trail offers a self-guided nature trail with a moderate 0.3-mile uphill climb to a large trail shelter. Get a look at the beautiful fall colors up close during the hike, followed by panoramic views at the top. 

Milepost 417 -- Looking Glass Rock Overlook 

You can see Looking Glass Rock from several points along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but this is one of the best places to view the stone-faced monolith. Enjoy a picnic with beautiful views here. 

Credit: Tim Buckley
Looking Glass Rock Overlook at Milepost 417 along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Milepost 418 -- Graveyard Fields

Graveyard Fields overlook is actually at milepost 418.8, but don't miss the great view of the waterfall right before the designated parking area! Drive a bit further to the parking lot for access to hiking trails. 

Credit: WFMY
A view of the waterfall right before the Graveyard Fields overlook at milepost 418.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Should we include another overlook in this article? Let us know! Email webteam@wfmy.com with a photo of your favorite spot along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Be sure to include the milepost. 


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