Cruise into Fall Color
Whether you’re behind the wheel of a fancy convertible or a family wagon, these two driving tours showcase the best of what Transylvania County has to offer in the autumn. Sure, you can speed through these routes, see plenty of sights and take in some breathtaking color, but the ideal way is take your foot off the gas and plan to make several stops along the way.
Remember: the trees at a higher elevation change color earlier than those below, so enjoy the view from the top!
Transylvania County Loop
(3-7 hours, depending on stops)
If you want a grand tour of all of Transylvania County’s most gorgeous fall leaf color, this is it. Begin in downtown Brevard, where you can get helpful information about our area at our Visitor Center and fortify yourself with coffee and sweet rolls from one of our local bakeries or cafes before setting out. Your route takes you into the yellow and red-dappled Pisgah National Forest where you can get sidetracked by any number of great attractions, from Looking Glass Falls to Sliding Rock to the seasonally-hued Cradle of Forestry. Top out on the Blue Ridge Parkway and follow it south through brilliant splashes of rich hues on the surrounding mountains. Numerous overlooks offer up the spectacular fall color of the Blue Ridge mountains at peak season, and the awesome rock monolith of Looking Glass Rock.
At Devil’s Courthouse, stretch your legs on a trail that summits on a granite aerie that makes you feel like you’re standing on the very edge of the world surrounded by splashes of dreamy orange, yellow and red. Come off the BRP at US-215 for a winding trip back down into the valley. This stretch also offers abundant opportunities to discover why Transylvania County is known as the Land of Waterfalls, including Courthouse, Bird Rock, Mill Shoals, and French Broad Falls. Eventually, you’ll come to the intersection of US-64 and a quick stop at Forks of the River Taproom to quench your thirst may be in order. Afterward, head east on US-64, and you’ll be back in town just in time for some al fresco dining in one of Brevard’s notable restaurants.
You can do this drive in about 4-5 hours. But why rush? It’s very easy to make a full day of it and see many of the natural wonders and exquisite colors that make Transylvania County the heart of adventure in the fall.
Directions: From downtown Brevard, go east on US-64 for 3.4 miles. Turn left on US-276 and go north for 15 miles. Turn left onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and go 11 miles. Turn left onto US-215 and go 17.3 miles. Turn left on US-64 and go 8.6 miles to downtown Brevard.
Caesars Head Classic
(4-8 hours, depending on stops)
This route roughly follows the course of the famous Assault on the Carolinas, a 100-kilometer cycling event held every April. It’s also an auto or motorcycle enthusiast’s dream, full of silky switchbacks, snaky esses, voluptuous curves, and magnificent folds of scarlet, tangerine, and brilliant gold in the autumn. You can drive or ride this route in either direction, but we recommend you go counterclockwise. Highlights include cresting the Eastern Continental Divide, a spectacular descent of US-178 into South Carolina, a straight, but hilly stretch on the Cherokee Foothills Parkway, then a memorable climb up Caesars Head on US-276. As you make your way back into town be sure to stop in the Cedar Mountain community to enjoy local shops, art, and restaurants. Lastly, the finishing touch is a swooping, multi-curve descent into Brevard. But don’t spend all your time on the road. There are numerous opportunities for discovery, including Caesars Head State Park and Table Rock State Park.
If you happen to have an interest in geology, pay close attention when you roll through Rosman. You’ll cross over a bridge where the North and West forks converge to create the headwaters of the French Broad River, the third oldest river in the world.
Directions: From downtown Brevard, go west on US-64 for 8.4 miles. Turn left onto US-178 and go 11 miles. Turn left on SC-11 and go 8.5 miles. Turn left on SC-8/11 (Pumpkintown Highway) and go 1.8 miles. Turn left on US-276 and go 13.5 miles back to Brevard.