Interactive Tennessee Fall Foliage Map, 7 Fall Tips (2023)

Use our interactive tool below, coupled with our best tips and tricks, to make the most out of leaf peeping season in Tennessee (stock.adobe.com / TheSmokies.com composite)

They say the beauty of the leaves in Tennessee in the fall is due to the diversity of trees in the forest. Local flora – depending on what part of the state you’re visiting – may include oak trees, hickories, maples, pin cherry, yellow birch, American beech, dogwood, sumac, scarlet oak, mountain ash, black walnut and hobblebush – just to name a few. But where can you spot the best and brightest fall colors Tennessee and the Smokies have to offer?

If you want to get the most out of your experience, we have some suggestions. First, check out this interactive fall foliage map that we’ve created exclusively for our TheSmokies.com readers. Second, read our top seven tips below.

Fall foliage prediction map for Tennessee 2023

Use the slider below to view our predictions for peak fall foliage in Tennessee for the 2023 season. This map represents a collection of historical data from a variety of sources to provide a rough approximation of when the leaves will begin to change color, segmented by county. As a disclaimer, actual dates may vary. Below the state map, you will also find a close-up map of East Tennessee. Sevier County, for reference, is home to Gatlinburg and also the bulk of the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

An interactive map of Tennessee

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Oct 1
Oct 9
Oct 17
Oct 25
Nov. 3
Nov. 10
Nov. 17

A close-up look at East Tennessee

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Tennessee peak fall foliage by county

Below, you will find a more detailed breakdown of our predictions for fall foliage by county (listed as county name/peak date).

  • Anderson County: Oct 24
  • Bedford County: Oct. 31
  • Benton County: Oct. 31
  • Bledsoe County: Oct. 28
  • Blount County: Nov. 13
  • Bradley County: Oct. 31
  • Campbell County: Oct. 28
  • Cannon County: Oct. 24
  • Carroll County: Oct. 31
  • Carter County: Oct 24
  • Cheatham County: Oct. 28
  • Chester County: Nov. 2
  • Claiborne County: Oct. 24
  • Clay County: Oct. 24
  • Cocke County: Oct. 28
  • Coffee County: Oct. 28
  • Crockett County: Nov 1
  • Cumberland County: Oct. 28
  • Davidson County: Nov. 7
  • Decatur County: Oct. 30
  • DeKalb County: Oct. 24
  • Dickson County: Oct. 31
  • Dyer County: Nov. 5
  • Fayette County: Nov. 7
  • Fentress County: Oct. 24
  • Franklin County: Oct. 30
  • Gibson County: Oct. 30
  • Giles County: Oct. 29
  • Grainger County: Oct. 24
  • Greene County: Oct. 24
  • Grundy County: Oct. 18
  • Hamblen County: Oct. 29
  • Hamilton County: Nov. 9
  • Hancock County: Oct. 24
  • Hardeman County: Nov. 1
  • Hardin County: Nov. 5
  • Hawkins County: Oct. 28
  • Haywood County: Nov. 7
  • Henderson County: Nov. 3
  • Henry County: Oct. 24
  • Hickman County: Oct. 29
  • Houston County: Oct. 31
  • Humphreys County: Nov. 9
  • Jackson County: Nov. 5
  • Jefferson County: Nov. 1
  • Johnson County: Oct. 7
  • Knox County: Nov. 5
  • Lake County: Nov. 6
  • Lauderdale County: Nov. 6
  • Lawrence County: Oct. 29
  • Lewis County: Oct. 28
  • Lincoln County: Nov. 4
  • Loudon County: Nov. 5
  • Macon County: Nov. 4
  • Madison County: Nov. 6
  • Marion County: Nov. 4
  • Marshall County: Oct. 24
  • Maury County: Oct. 28
  • McMinn County: Oct. 29
  • McNairy County: Nov. 4
  • Meigs County: Oct. 24
  • Monroe County: Nov. 1
  • Montgomery County: Nov. 3
  • Moore County: Oct. 28
  • Morgan County: Oct. 31
  • Obion County: Oct. 30
  • Overton County: Oct. 28
  • Perry County: Oct. 28
  • Pickett County: Oct. 24
  • Polk County: Oct. 31
  • Putnam County: Oct. 24
  • Rhea County: Nov. 3
  • Roane County: Nov. 4
  • Robertson County: Nov. 1
  • Rutherford County: Oct. 29
  • Scott County: Oct. 15
  • Sequatchie County: Nov. 13
  • Sevier County: Oct. 30
  • Shelby County: Nov. 17
  • Smith County: Nov. 1
  • Stewart County: Nov. 1
  • Sullivan County: Oct. 28
  • Sumner County: Nov. 3
  • Tipton County: Nov. 5
  • Trousdale County: Nov. 2
  • Unicoi County: Oct. 24
  • Union County: Oct. 29
  • Van Buren County: Nov. 9
  • Warren County: Nov. 9
  • Washington County: Oct. 24
  • Wayne County: Oct. 24
  • Weakley County: Nov. 3
  • White County: Oct. 24
  • Williamson County: Nov. 2
  • Wilson County: Oct. 30

With this in mind, here are some of my best fall foliage spotting tips and tricks for the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and surrounding areas.

archway with leaves and mountain backdrop
If you go too early, you’ll see some fall decor but a lot of green (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

1. Visit in late October or early November

Leaves normally begin to turn around mid-October with a burst of color arriving towards the end of the month. Peak time for autumn foliage in the Smokies usually falls around the last week of October to early November.

2. Go higher in elevation

But what if you’re driving into Tennessee in late September or early October and you’re seeing entirely too much green and not enough orange or yellow? Raise your elevation. The leaves start turning earlier in the higher elevations, and you can find some of the colors you seek way up in the high mountains.

Curvy roadway and fall foliage along US 441 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (photo by Anthony heflin/shutterstock.com)
Curvy roadway and fall foliage along US 441 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (photo by Anthony heflin/shutterstock.com)

3. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina is the most visited national park in the United States and for good reason. For instance, there are dozens of famous walks, trails, drives and guides that will take you to the best, the prettiest, the most amazing views in the Smoky Mountains. But you know what? Beauty is everywhere in the mountains. Simply look around and view it. Visitors could spend a lifetime in the mountains looking for the best view and the prettiest foliage. They won’t see the forest for the trees.

Additionally, be sure to partake in local fall festivities. For example, hike on one of the park’s many popular hiking trails. Or take scenic drives along the Foothills Parkway and Newfound Gap Road. Both are certainly popular in the fall. Maybe even venture out to Clingmans Dome – the highest point in the Smoky Mountains National Park. You’re sure to see at least a few pops of orange and yellow peaking out of the forest canopy from the observation tower. Step back. See the larger picture. The Smokies have thousands of scenic views, historic sites and running streams. And you know what? They’re all perfect.

4. Visit one of the smaller local parks

The National Park ain’t the only park in Tennessee. There are several great state parks, each offering beautiful views. For example, the overlook at Panther Creek State Park in Morristown, TN is a personal favorite, but partially because it’s 15 minutes from my house. Still, many others will give you some leaf-peeping street cred. There’s also Lookout Mountain if you don’t mind a day trip to Chattanooga.

Sure every Bob, Todd and Ethan from Indiana has been to Cades Cove at one time or another, but have any of those Bloomington poseurs ever seen the view from the West Overlook at House Mountain State Natural Area in Corryton? No, they have not. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Maggie Valley are on the "other" side of the Smokies in North Carolina (photo by SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
The Blue Ridge Parkway and Maggie Valley are on the “other” side of the Smokies in North Carolina (photo by SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com

5. Cross the border into North Carolina

If you’re in the Smoky Mountains, you can take leaf-peeping off your to-do list by walking out of your hotel and opening your eyes. See the amazing beauty? Check. Let’s get some pancakes.

But, if you’re truly hoping to soak in some serious leaf-peeping, you have to put in the time. For example, the Blue Ridge Parkway near Maggie Valley in North Carolina is amazing. To the South, the Cherohala Skyway connecting Tellico Plains and North Carolina is an under-appreciated gem. It’s a bit of a ride from Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, but it’s far less trafficked and has amazing views. I have also been partial to the Hartford area of Cocke County. For example, Hartford, located near the North Carolina-Tennessee State line, offers several excellent places to view the mountains from the car. The Cataloochee Valley is also a popular spot to visit in the fall.

Finally, I’ve always liked the ride over to Hot Springs, North Carolina. It’s a beautiful drive and when you reach your destination there are some good little restaurants and, if you’re interested in such things, Hot Springs spas in which to soak and rest after a long, hard day of looking at leaves.

6. Hit the hot spots

Do you want a picture that will make your Instagram followers chartreuse with envy? Go to the places that draw the most people. Cades Cove in East Tennessee? The front half of the loop is better for foliage viewing and pictures, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier spot in the world. The drive on US 441 from Gatlinburg to Cherokee is an excellent way to get up in the mountains. And there are also several places to safely pull off and take in a majestic view. As an added plus, you’d have a good chance on this drive to see some elk.

Other popular drives include Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in Gatlinburg and Wears Valley Road connecting Pigeon Forge and Townsend through, you guessed it, Wears Valley. For quick reference, here’s a consolidated list of some of our favorite leaf-peeping spots throughout the state. (Editor’s Note: GSMNP = Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

Best leaf peeping spots in East Tennessee

Newfound Gap RoadScenic DriveGSMNP (TN)
Cades Cove LoopScenic DriveGSMNP (TN)
Foothills ParkwayScenic DriveGSMNP (TN)
Roaring Fork Motor Nature TrailScenic DriveGSMNP (TN)
Balsam Mountain RoadScenic DriveGSMNP (TN)
Cove Creek RoadScenic DriveGSMNP (TN)
Tennessee RiverRiver/OverlookEast TN
Big South Fork National RiverRiver/OverlookEast TN
Cumberland Plateau Scenic RouteScenic DriveEast TN
Cherokee National ForestWalk/HikeEast TN / West NC
Cherohala Skyway Scenic DriveEast TN / West NC

Best leaf peeping spots in Middle Tennessee

Natchez Trace ParkwayScenic DriveMiddle TN / West TN
Lookout MountainWalk/HikeEast TN / North GA

Best leaf peeping spots in West Tennessee

Meeman-Shelby Forest State ParkState ParkWest TN
Natchez Trace ParkwayScenic DriveMiddle TN / West TN

Best leaf peeping spots in Western North Carolina

Cherohala SkywayScenic DriveEast TN / West NC
Cherokee National ForestWalk/HikeEast TN / West NC
Blue Ridge ParkwayScenic DriveGSMNP (NC)
Clingmans DomeWalk/HikeGSMNP (NC)
Hot SpringsNational ParkWest NC
pumpkin head decorations in gatlinburg tennessee
Gatlinburg is a fun place to visit in the fall. Most locals will likely be happy to tell you their favorite spot (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

7. Ask a local

Finally, if you don’t know, ask somebody. I’ve been riding around these mountains for quite some time and I’m continually amazed by some view or place I’ve never heard of. Be sure to find a local and ask them what they like. You might hear the same five drives I’ve told you about above, but there’s a chance they know some holler I’ve never been to.

Where are your favorite locations for fall foliage spotting? Let us know in the comments below.

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Disclosure: We have used and experienced all the products and activities recommended on The Smokies. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products and experiences featured.

6 thoughts on “Interactive Tennessee Fall Foliage Map, 7 Fall Tips (2023)”

  1. The prettiest view I have ever seen was from Pittman Center to Fancy Gap. The views are breathtaking. You think you are driving through a postcard. It is absolutely beautiful. Motor Name Trail is another beautiful place but you have to hit the leaf peak to capture the golden tunnel of leaves you drive through. A few that have already fallen also add to the beauty of the gold. I urge every that enjoy leaf looking to visit other places than just the park, go up Blueridge Parkway and see the real beauty of fall.

    Reply
  2. We love the mountains ! Been all over and took the blueridge parkway, beautiful in the fall. But one year we left smoky mts. And drove south to the Highlands! Another gorgeous fall drive !

    Reply
  3. Cherohala Skyway is a fantastic east to west drive from Robinsville to Telico Plains. Absolutely a must drive in the fall. Happy Vacation y’all 😊

    Reply

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