Explore the Fall Colors in Virginia

While it might not be autumn in Charlotte yet, a short road trip can take you there.


Main Street in Abingdon, Virginia, (just three hours from Charlotte) oozes quaintness and provides visitors the chance to view gorgeous fall foliage in September. 


While autumn enthusiasts are already ordering pumpkin spice lattes and trading in shorts for pants, many of us Charlotteans know it’s a little premature to be calling it “fall.” September is notorious for bringing in hotter-than-welcome temperatures in Charlotte, and those who wish it were sweater weather are trying as hard as possible to force fall into existence.

If you can’t wait at least a month to Instagram some stunning fall foliage, the best place to find fall colors is hidden in southwest Virginia, only three hours away from Charlotte. A small mountain town by the name of Abingdon is the ideal spot to start your leaf-peeping adventure, as it rests amongst the famous Blue-tinged mountains where the leaves will turn a fiery red hue.

Start autumn early this September and head to one of these five places that are easily accessible from Abingdon, and schedule your weekend getaway ASAP!

1. Hidden Valley Lake

If you like your leaves reflecting like a kaleidoscope off of a glassy mountain lake, Hidden Valley Lake is a serene setting snuggled into the crown of Brumley Mountain, just outside of Abingdon. Bring your fishing poles and try your hand at catching smallmouth bass while you take in the sights.

2. Shenandoah National Park

For a breathtaking drive through the best views Virginia has to offer, buckle up for the 105-mile Skyline Drive that stretches through the 200-acre Shenandoah National Park. With 75 scenic overlooks along the way, you’ll have no shortage of foliage photos that will grant your Facebook friends a serious case of FOMO.


Wild ponies are common on the Appalachain Trail and nearby areas.


3. Grayson Highlands State Park

Straddling the massive Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, Grayson Highlands State Park is a prime spot for looking at colorful leaves. It’s a place where wild ponies roam, and there are more than enough amenities to give you a great camping experience. The high country gem also provides easy access to both the Appalachian and the Virginia Highlands Horse Trails.

4. Humpback Rocks

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a must for all leaf-seekers, and though the roadway stretches from Virginia to Tennessee, you don’t have to venture too far down the path to get one of the most idyllic vistas of all. Right at mile-marker five, you’ll find Humpback Rocks, which has a short, mile-long trail that ascends rapidly to a vantage point awarding you views of Shenandoah Valley and the Virginia Piedmont.

5. Hungry Mother State Park

If you thought this destination couldn’t be as interesting as its name, you thought wrong. Hungry Mother State Park is home to a 108-acre lake in southwest Virginia and features the 5.7-mile Lake Trail, hugging every curve of the body of the water. Your other opportunities to fuel your love for the burnt-toned leaves are to jump on the 1.9-mile Molly’s Knob Trail and perhaps then tack on to the 0.4-mile Vista Trail. You really can’t go wrong at this scenic spot.