Foliage season providing a boost to local economy

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SURRY COUNTY, N.C. -- North Carolina's foliage season is in full swing and experts say it should bring a nice boost to the state's economy.

In just one hour at Pilot Mountain State Park one could spot license plates from Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, New York, Maine, Texas and even Arizona. Most of the visitors say they came to the park just to take in the views of the fall colors.

"You're truly blessed -- you have color and you have the hills and the mountains," said Bruce Weeks, who originally hails from South Bend, Ind. "We don't have the landscape that you have here with the variety of hills and mountains and so forth."

By some estimates, more than 12 million people visit North Carolina during in the fall season. Those millions of visitors translate to more than $1 billion in revenue for the state.

"It's just unbelievable to be here," said Marguerite Beyer, of Winston-Salem. "We meet so many people who are here just to be on the trail."

Beyer said she hikes the trails on Pilot Mountain regularly, and sometimes, her car will be the only one in the parking lot. On Friday, the parking lot at the top of the mountain was virtually full.

"One day was completely socked in with no view, the next we could see the valleys, and the colors and it was spectacular," she said.

While some of the leaves at higher elevations have already begun to fall, the trees at the middle and lower elevations are just entering the prime season.

For a full list of fall and Halloween-themed events at our state parks, visit http://ncparks.gov/Education/fallfestivals.php.

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