Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Foliage Along the Cherohala Skyway


Blairsville, Georgia  (high 69, low 39)

On Friday our plan was to take a drive up to North Carolina and Tennessee to see if we could see the fall colors at the higher elevations.

The weather was supposed to be sunny and clear, but when we got up that morning, my Weatherbug phone app said it was going to be cloudy all day here in Blairsville.  We almost decided not to go because the Cherohala Skyway is a pretty good distance to drive and we thought it would be much nicer with a sunny day.   We decided to check the weather for cities on both ends of the skyway and found sunny skies were expected.  Yea…

So, off we went about 9:30 am.   First we decided to stop and get a good breakfast of country ham, grits, eggs, and biscuits.   No not vegan, and definitely not very healthy, but it was good and held us all day long.   We rationalized that there wouldn’t be many places to stop, so a good breakfast would be in order.

The skyway runs east/west,  just north of us through North Carolina and Tennessee.   We could either start in Robbinsville, North Carolina, or Tellico Plains, Tennessee.

We opted to start in Tennessee. 

It was a bit foggy in the mountains.


I had seen this place called Fields of the Woods on the radar portion on my Weatherbug phone app.   I never knew what it was, but on the way to Tennessee we ran across it.   I wanted to stop and see just what it was.


It turns out it is a religious place with some religious symbols, and the Ten Commandments along the side of a mountain.


We got to the town of Tellico Plains, Tennessee and found a visitor center and some museums nearby.  It was still pretty chilly and we were glad we dressed in layers.

There are a lot of motorcycles in the area because it’s close to the infamous Tail of the Dragon motorcycle route.

We found out about a nice waterfall just a few miles off the Cherohala Skyway, so we decided to make the detour.

We followed a nice stream along a narrow and windy mountain road.  Minimal fall colors there, but the river was beautiful.


I saw an otter standing on one of the flat rocks in the river but couldn’t get a photo.


Al spotted this large wasp or hornets nest in a tree alongside the river.


The scenery along the river was very, very nice with lots of huge rocks in and alongside the river.  Unfortunately, there weren’t too many places to pull over and there was usually cars behind us, so we couldn’t stop in the middle of the road for photos.


The waterfall was 6 miles in and you could see it right from the bridge.  I snapped a few photos as we drove over the bridge but again, we couldn’t stop due to cars behind us.

Bald River Falls, Cherokee Natl Forest

There was a small parking lot right past the waterfall, but it was full.   We kept driving hoping to find a place to turn around and found a nice picnic area and a place to walk and see some more smaller waterfalls.

It was a really pretty area.


Another really nice waterfall.


Bald River Falls, Cherokee Natl Forest



I told Al I wanted to take this pretty rock home, but he couldn’t quite lift it.  :)



We walked back to the big waterfall and I managed to get some better pictures.

Bald River Falls, Cherokee Natl Forest



After a few pictures, we headed back onto the skyway.

The skyway starts out at only 860 foot of elevation.  We drove along for quite a while before we started climbing.

The colors started changing as we climbed higher.


There were some bicyclists making the climb with us.  They ended up climbing up to almost 5400 feet.  Whew!   I’ll bet the ride down was amazing.


The prettiest colors were at about the 3300-3700 foot elevations and along the Tennessee side.


overlook near Tennessee side about 3600 feet elevation


When we got up to the 5000+ elevations, we saw many of the trees had already lost their leaves.  I think we were a little late for the peak color at the higher elevations. 


The skyway had a lot of scenic overlooks where you could pull off, but some of the prettiest places we found had no place to stop. 

I managed to snap a few quick pictures over Al through his window!


I had to crop out his nose in a few of them.  :)


The highest peak along the skyway was 5377 feet and I believe it was on the North Carolina side.


It runs about one mile at over a mile in elevation.  The colors were minimal at the higher elevations, but started getting pretty again as we descended.


We went between sunny blue skies and foggy mountain tops.


Cherohala Skyway







….and our bicyclist heading downhill.



The colors were pretty, but only in spots and wasn’t as spectacular on the whole  as we had remembered it in years past.  There was a lot of rain here all spring and summer, and they say too much rain brings less spectacular fall colors.  They might be right.

Here in Blairsville, the leaves are  changing and the trees have dropped a lot of leaves already. We’re seeing some pretty color, but on the whole when you look into the mountains you don’t see much color yet.  I’m not sure what we’re going to get here, but we’re expecting some pretty cold weather in the next few days, so it might speed things up.


Yesterday (Saturday) we went west towards Ellijay, Georgia for the Apple Festival. They say Georgia has the first apples of the season and that apples you buy in the store might have been picked up to a year before.  No wonder, they don’t taste as good as what we’ve been eating here.

The festival was nice with a lot of vendors, including food vendors selling fried green tomatoes, and fried pickles.

Yes, you heard me right.   We haven’t had fried pickles since Zaxby’s stopped selling them a few years ago.   They were sliced thin, then fried and were very good, although not as good as Zaxby’s.  YUM!

There were a lot of interesting crafts and goodies for sale.  We ended up with a pole and baffle for our bluebird box.  Oh….and a sign for over the hot tub.


I thought it was appropriate.


We’re chilling out this morning (literally because it’s cold out) and after we get some chores done, we may take a ride on the Richard Russell Scenic Byway and see what the colors are doing there.

We have company coming from Tampa next week, so at some point we will have to stay home and clean house!


  1. Your pictures are just gorgeous especially that header and those marvelous waterfall pictures. What a wonderful time you are having seeing fall at its best. Wish I were there with you.

  2. The colors may not be as spectacular this year but they still are incredible. Can't even imagine riding a bike up that - they're nuts.

  3. Nice that it only takes a few minutes to clean up a MH. I love the mountains too. Beautiful colors!

  4. Despite the overcast weather, you still had a very interesting day, must be because of your non-vegan breakfast. ;c)

    Nice sign for your hot tub. Gave me a good laugh! :cD

  5. More awesome pictures of that area!
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. I would love the Fields in the Woods.

    Love any peak I can get of fall colors. Thanks for giving my my daily dose.

  7. Amazing pictures! Looks like you guys are out there enjoying it!


  8. Love the fall colors and your photos of the waterfalls are spectacular. I find it really hard to photograph waterfalls, so I especially appreciate your talent.

    The hot tub sign is a hoot.

  9. The fall colors look like a patchwork quilt. Very nice!

  10. Thanks so much for posting your pictures and comments. I was greatly in need of a "mountains fix" and this has done the trick for me. Now to get up to the Skyway myself for a day!


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