When it comes to ways to enjoy the colors of autumn that annually blanket Western North Carolina, a scenic driving tour is a beautifully tranquil option. The vast expanse of forested terrain along Lake Lure and the Blue Ridge Foothills make it one of the best places in the Eastern United States to enjoy nature’s spectacular display of flaming golds, deep purples, and burnt red hues. To help you plan your path of scenic exploration, we’ve mapped out some of our favorite fall color journeys.
The Cherry Bounce Trail
Distance: 46.6 miles
Travels through: Rutherfordton, Ruth, Golden Valley, Washburn, Bostic, Forest City, Spindale
The Cherry Bounce Trail is a 46.6 mile circle that loosely follows an old moonshiners' route through the North Carolina foothills. Even though it winds through many of the county’s charming small towns, the route is mainly backroads and byways that meander along the picturesque foothills landscape. As you drive you’ll enjoy views of incredible fall foliage traveling the winding roads through Golden Valley along the South Mountain Scenery By-Way.
Stopping Spots & Points of Interest:
- Defiant Whiskey (Blue Ridge Distilling Co.) tours by appointment
- Washburn’s General Store old time general store & sandwich counter established in 1831
- Smith’s Drugs of Forest City pharmacy, gift shop & old time soda fountain established in 1939
- Bechtler Mint & Historic Park park with a short loop walking trail on the site of the original Bechtler mint & gold mine
Lakeviews Driving Tour
Distance: 27.9 miles
Travels Through: Lake Lure & surrounding area
The Lakeviews Driving Tour is a 27.9 mile journey through some of the prettiest areas Lake Lure has to offer. This lovely winding route around the lake features striking natural vistas, farmlands, ponds, and a peek at some incredible lake homes. Along the way, you’ll drive over the historic Lake Lure Dam which was built in the 1920s and is still operational today.
Stopping Spots & Points of Interest:
- Lake Lure Flowering Bridge frangrantly picturesque garden walkway created on a historic highway bridge
- Rumbling Bald Resort beautiful resort property including award winning spa, dining, golf, and lakeside activities
- Cedar Creek Stables horseback riding stables offering group and private trail rides
Blue Ridge Parkway & Waterfalls Tour
Distance: 98.3 miles
Travels Through: Rutherford, Henderson, & Buncombe counties
The Blue Ridge Parkway & Waterfalls Tour is a 98.3 mile journey that crosses 3 counties; immersing you in some of the most spectacular autumn color that Western North Carolina has to offer. Incredible panoramic mountain views will line your path through the higher elevations, while the journey through the Pisgah National Forest offers turn offs and overlooks with spectacular vistas that provide the ultimate photo opportunity backdrop.
Stopping Spots & Points of Interest
- Chimney Rock Village quaint village nestled along the Rocky Broad River that offers local dining, shops, & lodging
- Chimney Rock State Park a woodland wonderlands state park that offers all levels of hiking options and some of the most spectacular views in North Carolina
- Bubba O'Leary's General Store old-time general store with local artisan wares & gifts including jams & jellies, candles, collectibles, and an extensive selection of outdoor wear
- Cradle of Forestry park with a variety of short walking trail options that educate visitors on forestry and North Carolina history
- Looking Glass Falls one of the most photographed natural waterfalls in America
Wineries of the Blue Ridge Foothills Driving Tour
Distance: 72 miles
Travels Through: Rutherford, Henderson, & Polk counties
There's no better combination than the beautiful colors of fall enjoyed at a North Carolina boutique vineyard. The Wineries of the Blue Ridge Foothills Tour is a 72 mile journey that takes you to four different vineyards, each with its own rich story. Filled with multi-generational operations and intimate tasting rooms, each vintner proudly shares the story of their craft (and the fruits of their labor!) with visitors.
- Overmountain Vineyards family-owned vineyard & winery in the Tryon Foothills specializing in French-style wines - the vineyard offers villa lodging, a blueberry picking patch, and tasting room experiences by appointment
- Parker-Binns Vineyard multigenerational vineyard & winery offering tasting room experiences, onsite casual dining, and weekly outdoor live music events
- Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards locally-owned vineyard & winery offering on-site classes, events, tastings, and orchard hikes
- Burntshirt Vineyards locally-owned vineyard & winery offering a variety of tours and tastings, on-site cottage lodging, an event venue, and local live music