Here's a unique fall leaf-looking experience in the North Carolina mountains! Go bear hunting near Highlands and Cashiers and shoot one with your camera. The “shadow of the bear” is visible for 30 minutes daily (on sunny days!) between 5:30-6:15 PM from mid October through early November. Look for the Rhodes Big View Overlook (no signs, but an obvious place to enjoy the view anytime) on Highway 64 a few miles west of Cashiers (about five miles east of Highlands).
During this period, the bear-like shadow comes out of hibernation when the autumnal sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain (read more about the fabulous hike atop Whiteside Mountain). The mountain, with an elevation of 4,930 feet, boasts sheer rock cliffs that are among the highest in the eastern United States. It provides a splendid setting for viewing leaves throughout autumn, especially during the emergence of the bear.
Tourists and photographers come from near and far to catch a glimpse of this natural phenomenon, which also occurs in late winter from mid February through early March. Also visit the many nearby waterfalls.
Directions from Asheville: I-26 to exit 40/Highway 280/Airport exit to Brevard. Then follow U.S. 64 to Cashiers. Very scenic drive, but many curves b/w Brevard and Cashiers. Allow 2.5 hours to drive. 68 miles.