It’s fall…and in my opinion one of the best things about fall is leaf color. We don’t always get a lot of color in these parts mostly because of our schizophrenic weather patterns [yesterday it was 80 and sunny…this weekend 50’s and cloudy] BUT the mountains of North Carolina aren’t too far away and the magnificent Blue Ridge Parkway is an easy drive away.
A couple years I heard about a phenomenon called Shadow of the Bear. It’s in an area of NC more famous for its spectacular waterfalls and day hikes, but in the fall, it’s famous for the leaves.
Let’s go bear-hunting…
no, not those bears [all though those bears are very cute if you come in contact with them in a zoo, not so cute if you come across them while on your afternoon run]…
One of the wonderful things about living in Arden, North Carolina is its relative proximity to both the southern Appalachian mountains, the South Carolina coast, and the major cities of Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia.
Less than an hour away, nestled in the southern corner of the Nantahala Forest, in southwestern North Carolina, is one of the coolest natural experiences around…the shadow of the bear. It happens twice a year–once from late February to mid March and the other from mid-October to mid-November. The fall event is by far the most popular since it combines fall color with the bear’s appearance. I like to imagine that the bear is slowing making its way across the mountain on its way to its winter hibernation…or waking up
It’s starts off with just a small peak of the bear’s head.
The bear makes its appearance for about 30 minutes each day [when it’s sunny, of course] each day revealing a little bit more.
If you happen to be into hiking exploring Whiteside Mountain can make this a worthwhile day trip. The mountain’s cliffs look like sheets of ice draped across the mountain. The rock is somewhere between 390 to 460 million years old [what’s 70 million years between friends]. The 2-mile ‘moderate’ trail starts as a old logging road and takes you on top of sheer 750-foot high cliffs [plenty of railings for safety]. Follow the road for about a mile until you reach the top. The trail continues about 1/2 long the ridge of the mountain, plenty of places to enjoy the views from the rock face. There are quite a few “educational” signs along the way to add interest. Toward to end of the walk along the mountaintop, look for the highest point with the rock carved “Alt. 4,930 ft.” The last 1/2 mile part of the trail is a steep downhill section that leads you back to the logging road near the parking area.
The best viewing spot for the shadow of the bear is right off Highway 64 at Rhodes Big View Overlook.