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Foggy Days in the Blue Ridge

  • Foggy Days in the Blue Ridge

The month of August in the High Country is known as the “foggy days” of August.  August is the month the temperatures begin to fall.  The entire High Country’s weather turns cooler, and fog settles the countryside due to the occurrence of “thermal Inversion”.  And while we don’t want the summer season to end, there is something magical about these final days just before autumn.  They are peaceful and serene, the smell of crisp air while the whisps of fog begins to cover the peaks and valleys. 

If the conditions are exactly right, the chilly air will mix with moisture to form a sea of clouds.Take advantage of these lingering days of summer and experience these beautiful foggy days.  Stand on a mountain top, you will experience being above the clouds.    

NC Mountains:  A Hike Through the Fog

For some hiking: Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is suitable for all skill levels and is for those who want a relative short nature hike.  What makes this hike special is that the trails are easy to follow and can be a dramatic hike in the fog.   There are multiple trailheads and as the fog dissipates there are beautiful long-range views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains including stunning views into Virginia and Tennessee.  Looking into the valley, one can see the towns of West Jefferson, Jefferson, and the landscape below.  As a newcomer to the Mount Jefferson State Park, it is easy to take the Summit and Rhododendron 1.3 miles trail.  This trail noted for bird watching takes approximately 40 minutes to complete.  Dogs are welcome but must remain on leash.

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in the mountains this week, it is a clever idea to pack a jacket.  You never know when you might run into a foggy hike.  The fog can be so thick on some days that it feels like you are hiking through a cloud.  On these foggy days, you will want to keep a close eye on the trail to make sure you do not lose it.  Keep a close eye on the trail and be careful where you walk.

Blue Ridge Parkway:  Fog and Falling Leaves

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Park that snakes through the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina.  It is a popular destination for visitors, who come to hike, bike, paddle, and drive the road for spectacular views of the mountains.  The parkway is a beautiful drive at any time of the year, but there is something special about the last few days of August.  At this time of year, it is common for fog to be heavy along many areas both valleys and mountain tops due to the thermal inversion.  Thermal inversion happens when a layer of cool air at the surface covers a warmer layer of air.  

Searching for a sea of clouds likens itself to a treasure hunt.  Even if the conditions are right, it is uncertain where exactly the clouds will form.  Hiking ridgelines or summiting a mountain peak are two options to see the weather event.  But a more convenient means for exploring the landscape is driving the Parkway and looking beyond each bend in the road. 

Conoeing the New River on Foggy Days

Wake up before dawn on the first Saturday in September and hit the New River for a canoe trip. The skies are usually clear, and low-lying fog are perfect for the “sneak preview” of autumn.  The low-lying fog is a natural stage curtain for a full moon, which could rise above the horizon.

If you are lucky, the fog will lift enough to reveal a starry sky.  You will hear the frogs and crickets, along with the occasional screech of an owl.  If you are lucky, you will hear the trumpeting of bull frogs.

 At sunrise, the sun will light the fog, turning it into a golden mist that masks the river below.  You could hear the distant sounds of oars dipping into the water, the chatter of friends getting ready for a ride and the occasional splash of a fish nearby. 

To Sum it up!

One thing is for sure as we look back, we can see that the “Foggy Days of August” have been magical.

And while we do not want this wonderful season to end, there is something special about these final few days of summer.  It is as if we can smell that crisp change in the air—one that signals an end to so many things good and tells us that our beautiful autumn is on its way. 


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