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Fall Foliage Round 3!

posted Oct 24, 2011, 10:12 AM by Justin P
This weekend Sandy and I and friends headed to the Boone area for more fall foliage.  She finally took a weekend off so she could join in the fun.  Our first stop was Mount Jefferson State Natural Area.  We stopped at the upper overlook for some photo opportunities then headed to the parking lot.  We hiked up the Summit Trail then took the Rhododendron Trail to the Lost Province Trail.  After completing the Lost Province Trail, we headed out to Luther Rock for some great views, then returned along the Rhododendron Trail to the summit of Mount Jefferson.  We then headed back to the car and on to the next destination - Elk Knob State Park.  Elk Knob is one of NC's newest state parks and is still in a state of development and doesn't have the amenities of other parks.  There is only one trail here, the Summit Trail, so we headed up.  While hiking along a north-facing slope of the mountain, we even saw unmelted snow along the trail.  The trail is moderate to strenuous due to elevation gain, but there are many switchbacks to reduce the slope.  Previously, only an old dirt road led to the summit - a shorter distance, but much steeper without the switchbacks.  At the top, we had lunch at the summit and enjoyed the great views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains.  We headed back down the mountain and stopped briefly at Price Park to set up camp, then off to Linville Falls.  It was getting dark, so we didn't have much time.  We took the difficult trail to Linville Gorge.  At the bottom, we had to climb over rocks to get up close to the falls and took a few pictures, before heading back before dark.  Then back to the campsite for a campfire to stay warm.  The overnight low was 30°F!

In the morning, the others went to Grandfather Mountain, but we opted for something a little less strenuous.  We hiked from the campsite along the Boone Fork Trail at at Price Park.  We went out about 2 miles to Hebron Colony, a rock formation along the Boone Fork, also called Hebron Falls.  Sandy and I got engaged here about a year ago and it was great to visit again.  We headed back and broke camp and headed to our last destination, Stone Mountain State Park.  The foliage was past peak in the Boone area, so further east and at lower elevations, we hoped the colors would be better.  On the way, we stopped in Blowing Rock to get lunch at Six Pence Pub and also picked up some fresh Pink Lady apples.  At the park, we parked at the picnic area, and hiked to the Stone Mountain Loop trail, first going right.  We hiked up Stone Mountain and went out on the rock face for some spectacular views.  There were many turkey vultures circling overhead.  On one old tree on the edge of the mountain face, there were at least a dozen vultures waiting as the others scanned the landscape for food.  We turned around and headed back down to stop at Stone Mountain Falls, a 200-foot waterfall (along with the 200 feet of stairs to go down to and up from the base!).  Then back to the car to make the trip back to Raleigh.  Another great weekend of hiking and fall foliage.