Favorite Fall Drives - US 276 Waynesville to Greenville
When it comes to the rush of seeing the fall colors it's best to slow down and one of the best places to do that is along is U.S. 276 on the other side of the Smokies. Start your journey in Downtown Waynesville, NC (about an hour and a half east of Knoxville). The town is a great place to start the day as there are plenty of restaurant and shopping choices. The highway takes a turn off Main Street as it heads toward the high peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As the road winds its way south it takes you along the Pigeon River as it flows down from the high mountains. A few miles out of Waynesville, 276 passes through the community of Cruso, which boasts having "9 Miles of Friendly People, Plus One Old Crab". An old stone building, that used to be a school, now serves as a community center. Cruso's small farms and steep forest lined ridges provide a picturesque setting any time of the year, but especially in the fall.
Much of this stretch of US 276 passes through the Pisgah National Forest, an outdoor playground encompassing more than 500,000 acres. The road also passes under the Blue Ridge Parkway (a great place for fall color detours) before descending into "the land of waterfalls." Be sure and stop at the "Cradle of Forestry" for a closer look at the origins of the U.S. Forest Service and Looking Glass Falls. Take a little detour to the Pisgah Wildlife Center for a stunning view of Looking Glass Rock and Slick Rock Falls.
Small town charm and white squirrels await visitors to Brevard, NC, a great place to spend the day or the weekend. From the world's best toy store to an old fashioned diner and a plethora of gift shops and galleries, Brevard has a lot to offer.
The fall foliage fun continues as 276 becomes the Greenville Highway south of Brevard. Conesstee Falls is an easy stop along the way or if you want to see even more spectacular waterfalls, head off the highway into the Dupont State Forest.
Just past the state line, Caesar's Head State Park brings you one of the most spectacular views in the Southeast. Located along the Blue Ridge Escarpment, this park brings the foothills of South Carolina's Upcountry into full view with very little effort. Just find a parking spot and head out to the overlook. You can also get a view of "Caesar" himself by walking just a few hundred yards underneath the overlook, but make sure you can handle the "squeeze" on the way down.
At the foot of the mountain, Highway 276 joins the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (SC 11) for several miles. Turn southwest to check out Table Rock State Park, Keowee/Toxway State Park or the Jocasee Gorge or head on toward Greenville with a stop at the Wildcat Wayside. No matter what direction you choose to go, there will be plenty of natural beauty to see along the way.
At the end of this great fall drive is a city that is filled with surprises. Greenville, SC is the jewel of the Upcountry. Sophistication and small town charm come together in the downtown where you'll not only find more than 100 restaurants, shopping and upscale hotels, but a natural wonder in the middle of it all. The Reedy River which flows through the city takes a plunge downtown. Now the area around the falls serves as a natural oasis accentuated by the stunning Liberty Bridge, a suspension pedestrian bridge soaring a hundred feet above the falls.
Get in your car and head out on Highway 276, because IT'S TRIP TIME!
For more information on Greenville check out www.visitgreenvillesc.com.
For more information on Brevard, NC check out www.visitwaterfalls.com
For more information on Waynesville, NC visit https://visitncsmokies.com/waynesville/