Fall FoliageOctober 6, 2015
There’s no fall scene more stunning than miles of rolling mountain blanketed in fiery color.
Southern West Virginia’s vast wilderness offers amazing escapes into the autumn beauty, and it peaks in mid-to-late October. Because of temperature changes, the leaves begin to change toward the north, and then the color sweeps south.
“Southern West Virginia is a good spot to see foliage,” said Jodi French-Burr, a National Park Ranger in the New River Gorge. “We’ve got about every color here when it starts. It’s one of the most naturally diverse places in the US.”
She said the reds are everyone’s favorites. For some of the deep, bold reds, look for scarlet, black and red oaks; hickory; sugar and red maples; and dogwood.
Sycamores give of a bight yellow. Silver maples turn an orange-ish. It’s a wild palette of colors, setting the forests ablaze.
Here are our “Pick 5” selections for best fall color:
Vistas & Views:
- Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory gives you a clear 360-degree view over mountains that seem to roll on forever.
- Grandview’s overlook peers over a bend along the New River Gorge, with forested mountain hills rising from the banks.
- Pinnacle Rock State Park’s namesake rock towers over the treeline, starkly pale against the sea of yellow and orange leaves below it.
- Babcock State Park is the home of the Glade Creek Grist Mill, the state’s most photographed site— especially in fall, when the red mill wheel burns against the fall backdrop.
- Summersville Lighthouse peers over the cool, crystal blues of the lake, setting off the flaming hues of the surrounding forest.
- The Bluestone Turnpike Trail in the Bluestone National Scenic River is one of the most remote hikes in the state, stretching along the riverbed from Pipestem State Park to Bluestone State Park.
- Long Point Trail rewards hikers to the top of the boulder at its peak with a stunning scene, overlooking the New River Gorge canyon and the iconic bridge.
- The Greenbrier River Trail is an easy biking path that winds 78 miles beside the rocky Greenbrier River, crossing old rail bridges along the way.
- The Hatfield-McCoy Trails are one of the largest off-roading systems in the world, with 700+ miles of rugged terrain across 7 counties.
- The Appalachian Trail, one of the nation’s most beloved hiking trails, winds through the mountains of rural Monroe County.
- Ziplining lets you fly right through the colorful canopies for an up close— but fast!— look at fall’s vibrant foliage.
- Fly over the New River Gorge in a WWII stunt plane for a thrilling view of autumn from way, way above
- Bridge Walk gives the same aerial view of the gorge, but with a little less adrenaline!
- The Gauley River, one of the World’s Top 10 Whitewater Rivers, runs on select weekends in the fall. It winds through the protected Gauley National Scenic Recreation Area, into a rugged and reclaimed wilderness.
- The Aerial Tram at Pipestem Resort State Park swoops into the gorge, offering stunning aerial views— and a perfect entryway to the Bluestone Turnpike Trail.
- The Midland Trail traverses the backroads of Fayette and Greenbrier Counties. Stop along the route for gorgeous waterfalls, overlooks, quirky attractions and 2 of “America’s Coolest Small Towns”
- Monroe County Quilt Trail creates a scenic tour through the countryside, past farmlands that have maintained the same rural beauty for decades.
- The Lower Greenbrier River Byway winds through history, with stops like charming former rail towns, a preserved log cabins from the 1700s, and the site of the legend of John Henry.
- Paint Creek Scenic Trail rides alongside Paint Creek, with its rushing falls and rapids. The scenic route is dotted with simple surprises, like a fishing pier and interpretive historic kiosks.
- The Coal Heritage Trail takes you back through the mining boom, into the southern coalfields. Exhibition mines, museums and real abandoned mining town ruins offer insight into coal camp life.