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Kristi Parsons | 09.10.2018

Autumn is in the air in the Appalachians, and adventures are waiting! Between the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway and mountains, the Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, and every spot in between - there is an adventure for everyone. Need help getting started? Here are 19 and a bonus! 


  1. Hike to Hemphill Bald in the Smoky Mountains. With multiple options available for accessing Hemphill Bald, this is an adventure that can be molded to fit your preference or fitness level. However, if you hike to Hemphill Bald via Purchase Knob to Gooseberry Knob and up to Hemphill, you'll have a day filled with beautiful views of the Appalachians. 
  2. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a must. Yes, there will be traffic during peak season. However, you'll see quickly why a drive on this scenic highway is a must in the fall and a tradition for many. Plus, you'll find plenty of hikes along the way to stretch your legs and explore. 
  3. Roam Cataloochee. Spend a day or even a weekend in the Cataloochee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The area is filled with history, hiking trails, and elk. 
  4. Hike to McAfee Knob. A well-known spot on the Appalachian Trail, this breathtaking view only becomes even more stunning when the colors of autumn spread across the valley. 
  5. Go backpacking at Grayson Highlands. Enjoy the cooler temps as you backpack your way among the mystical ponies that call this area of the Appalachians home. 
  6. Spend fall break, or a weekend, camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From frontcountry to backcountry camping, shelters, and the LeConte Lodge, you can't go wrong spending a few nights in the Smokies and exploring the park. 
  7. Going camping in the Smokies? Take a hike. Here are 16 to get you started! 16 Must-Do Hikes in the Smokies
  8. Catch a sunset on Max Patch. The Appalachian Trail runs across this stunning bald of North Carolina. The views are endless, but the crowds can be too. Do the mountains a favor and show them your love by leaving no trace of your unforgettable experience. 
  9. Three words: Linn Cove Viaduct. Go. At least once. A visit in autumn is just icing on the cake. While you're there, explore Rough Ridge as well, among other spots nearby. 
  10. Soak up the views from the Craggy Pinnacle. Afterward, take a trip up to Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. 
  11. Ride the Virginia Creeper in Damascus. This is a perfect adventure to combine with a visit to Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. However, it's an adventure of its own! The Virginia Creeper is 34 miles of autumn adventuring. Known for being the spot to ride a bike under the fall foliage - it's also a great spot for running or just exploring. Damascus has plenty of bike shops that can get you to the top so you can cruise back down! 
  12. Kayak Watauga Lake and camp on Watauga Lake at Carden's Bluff Campground. Looking to view the colors of autumn from the water? This is it! Afterward, take a hike on the AT up to Laurel Falls - you'll find the trailhead just down the road from the campground. 
  13. Drive Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park simply for the eye-candy. Pack some hot chocolate and embrace the change of the seasons. 
  14. Take in the views from Bearfence Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. 
  15. Explore Roan Mountain. Roan Mountain is best known for its rhododendron blooms in June, but fall is a fantastic time to visit as well! 
  16. Backpack Burningtown Gap to Winding Stair Gap on the AT. A picture of perfection if you're looking to spend a couple of nights in the backcountry by a fall time campfire.
  17. Visit Blowing Rock in North Carolina. I could share the story of how it got its name - but seeing is believing, so you'll have to find out for yourself. 
  18. Hike Table Rock to get a view of the Linville Gorge from above. It's a spot that you won't want to miss year around, but especially in autumn. 
  19. Wander Linville Falls. Check out from the overlook, hike to the base, or explore tucked away gems. Regardless of how you decide to wander Linville and the Appalachians this fall - be sure to include a few waterfalls. 
  20. Last...but not least.. Find your own adventure. A hike, a bike ride, a trail run, a backpacking or camping trip. Find your adventure...then, share it with us! #findyouradventure


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