People love fall, and with good reason. The crisp air invigorates the blood. And the landscape pops with explosive red, yellow, and orange as trees prepare to shed their leaves for winter.
Autumn presents the perfect chance to visit the Dan River region along the North Carolina/Virginia border. Because the region stretches east from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the rolling hills of the Piedmont, you can enjoy a broad window to appreciate the seasonal transition.
Here are some suggestions for experiencing the leaf season in our neck of the woods:
Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Fall colors along the ridges of the Blue Ridge Parkway deserve their reputation for showy brilliance. Trace the parkway through Patrick County, Virginia, from the wine country near the Meadows of Dan southwest to Carroll County.
The numerous microclimates along the road result in wide variation in foliage color and timing. So plan a drive for the full parkway experience, rather than choosing a single destination.
Explore the varied terrain and fall foliage of Hanging Rock State Park.
Journey through color just on the drive to Hanging Rock State Park. Then, once you arrive at the state park, find a variety of ways to explore the season. Hike one of the park’s many trails, rent a canoe on a stocked lake, or trek to Moore’s Knob for a 360-degree view of the surrounding country.
View fall foliage from the water.
The Dan River pours through the region, traversing the state line and offering looks at a variety of landscapes. The river pulls you effortlessly through changing terrain. And the waterway offers looks at plant and animal life you won’t get on land.
One writer in 2015 put it this way: “when that crisp breeze of fall hits you when you’re on the water and the trees are alive with bright changes, it makes these things much more colorful.”
Take a driving tour along the base of the Blue Ridge.
Franklin County stretches from the steep slopes of the Blue Ridge Plateau down to former tobacco fields and eventually the resort-style luxury of Smith Mountain Lake. That dramatic shift in elevation makes for electrifying leaf looking. The Virginia Department of Forestry proposes a specific driving tour of the county, which you can customize to include local attractions.
Hide in the Knight-Brown Nature Preserve.
The Knight-Brown Nature Preserve deserves its reputation as one of the Dan River region’s hidden jewels. Explore a 186-acre property with a wooded valley, two gently rippling streams, many different types of ferns, spring wildflowers, and the rare eastern leatherwood shrub. Tucked away in Rockingham County, North Carolina, hike three miles of trail through a pair of ravines full of bright hardwoods.
A word about timing:
The fall foliage season begins in the mountains, sometimes as early as September but more often by early to mid-October. Then it sweeps east into the foothills later in the month. Each season varies though, so if you are making plans to travel for leaf season, keep an eye on local reports.
Find more to do in the State Crossings region.
Stack a few of our trip ideas together for an epic weekend, or an even, uh, epic-er weeklong visit! Here are just a few to get you started this fall: