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Early Fall Color in the High Country

posted Oct 21, 2018, 11:19 AM by Justin P   [ updated Oct 22, 2018, 3:59 PM ]
Saturday, we took Alex to the High Country for some early fall colors.  We left around 6 and made it to Elk Knob State Park before 930.  First, we got Alex's passport stamped at the park office then headed to the trailhead parking.


It was lightly raining when we started and very cloudy so didn't look hopeful for great views.  We hiked up the Summit Trail to the top of Elk Knob at over 5500 feet.  Although there was some color at the top, it was too cloudy to see much of anything.


There were a couple little flurries of snow mixed in with the drizzle.  At the south overlook, it was just as foggy and nothing to see, so we started hiking back down. Once finished, we made the drive over to Mount Jefferson State Natural Area.  Again, we parked at the office and got Alex's passport stamp.


Then we started hiking up the Mountain Ridge Trail.  It was cool enough that the steep uphill didn't seem to bad.  In about a mile, the trail came out at Sunrise Overlook.  The clouds had cleared enough that we had nice views and sky was really cool looking.


Continuing on the trail, we roughly followed the road up to Jefferson Overlook.  This overlook had great views of West Jefferson below and the Blue Ridge Mountains all around.


At this point, we had to scramble up some rocks to continue on the trail.


Alex wasn't too pleased about this part, but he made it up and we came out at the upper parking lot.  From here, we took the Summit Trail up to the top, thought there aren't great views from Mount Jefferson itself.


Continuing on, the Rhododendron Trail led along some cliffs and out to Luther Rock, which does have great views.


It was still partly cloudy, but had cleared enough for some real nice views of early fall color.  Strange that over half way through October and the foliage wasn't yet peaking even here in the High Country.  We took the Lost Province Trail to extend our hike a bit.


At the end of the loop, Rhododendron Trail brought us back to the picnic area at the upper parking lot.  On the way down, I took a detour on the Spur Trail out to Sunset Overlook.


This one had similar views to Jefferson Overlook but from a lower perspective.  The spur was all uphill back to Mountain Ridge Trail, but then it was all downhill from there.  The clouds had cleared a bit more so I stopped one more time at Sunrise Overlook.


It was then less than a mile from here back to the car.  Our next stop was New River State Park.


We wanted to get another passport stamp but the visitor center was closed and I couldn't find an outdoor one.  Since we were here, we hiked the 1-mile Hickory Loop then took off.  Not wanting to leave without at least one waterfall, we made a quick detour to Riverview Falls.


It's pretty nice for a roadside waterfall.  There was a lot of downfall, but it had several sections as was better than expected.


After a couple pictures, we took off and headed home.