It is nearly impossible to predict when peak leaf season will land in East Tennessee. Each new year, a new set of conditions - heat, rainfall, and the like - determine the exact dates. Yet, a few principals on the matter hold fast that provide us all with a rough guide to taking in the beauty of the autumn displays.
With the summer winding down, leaf season is rapidly approaching and folks are making their plans. So before you book a rental cabin, keep this rough schedule in mind and make the most of autumn in East Tennessee.
Fall color changes begin at higher elevations and travel downward, from the mountain peaks and on to the wooded valley floor. High on the mountaintops like the Appalachian Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains, where it's cooler year-round, the transformation can start as early as mid-September, and tree-aficionados will recognize that it is the cherry, maple, birch and beech trees that begin to turn first. The leaves will crisp up, becoming vibrant hues of auburn and yellow while the slopes and valleys below remain lush and green.
But it won't be long.
Soon the temperature will beginning dropping at lower elevations from Knoxville to Chattanooga and it'll begin creeping downward, across the very faces of the mountains. From early- to mid-October, the mountainsides very well may be alive with a potpourri of color. And in mid-October on through early November, the valleys and hollows and the trees overhanging the riversides should begin their displays - the scarlet oaks and the hickories, the red and sugar maples and the sweetgums.
The crunch of the leaves underfoot and the cool mountain air and the smell of wood smoke on the breeze. Tell me, does it get any better?