(October 17, 2013) There's a reason that October is the busiest time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The fall colors are brilliant in the Smokies, and locals and tourists alike love to drive or hike through to see them. And now that the park is back open, you can do that!
According to the Great Smoky Mountains Association, the leaves are at their peak in the higher elevations. They say they are "especially brilliant along Newfound Gap Road between Chimney Tops overlook and Newfound Gap."
They suggest these drives: Little River Road, Cades Cove, Greenbrier, the Foothills Parkway East (near Newport and Cosby), the Foothills Parkway West (near Townsend), and Cataloochee Valley.
If you want to walk or hike, they suggest checking out Smokemont Loop, Cucumber Gap Loop, Old Settlers Trail, Deep Creek Trail, Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail, and Henwallow Falls.
At elevations below 3,500 feet, where the forest is rich with maple and oak trees, colors will likely peak in six to 10 days.