It’s Fall again and leaf peepers are searching out the best colors, but differences in elevation, temperature, rainfall, and timing can make peak color a little elusive. Here are a few of my favorite places for seeing a cornucopia of gorgeous colors year after year.
This is my top spot for seeing the deepest, richest leaf colors in mass. The trail starts from the base of the mountain and works its way up through the bright oranges, yellows, reds and caramel foliage that make fall in Vermont so popular. Stop at the the creeks for a while and listen to the trickling water and the leaves rustling as the wind moves through the tree tops. After quite a gain in elevation, the trees get greener and shorter. It looks like a bonsai forest as you cross into the Alpine tundra. The peak is only a few hundred more feet up from there. Those who make the scramble to the top are richly rewarded with a 360 degree view of some of the best leaf color in the world.
McCoy Hollow Trail at Mammoth Cave National Park near Cave City, Kentucky
Kentucky is known for having hardwood forests with rich fall colors. McCoy Hollow Trail meanders through some pretty dense forest where the leaves will be up close and personal. Starting at the Temple Hill Trailhead, you’ll cross over rocky hillsides and through scarlet, amber, and gold hues from oak, hickory, beech, and maple trees. Their bright colors contrast against the dark green cedars and tall pines growing along with them. Less than a mile away is Houchins Ferry Campground on the bank of the Green River. From there, you can enjoy the relaxing sounds of the river flowing by and see flashes of color reflecting off the rippling water. All of that makes this an ideal spot for an overnight stay in a colorful mountain landscape.
Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott County, Virginia
The million or so year old Natural Tunnel of western Virginia is the central feature of a fantastic place to see brilliant autumn colors shine against a sheer rock landscape. Start the day on Spring Hollow Trail. You’ll hike a narrow path to Stock Creek where you’ll see flame colored leaves on rocks covered with emerald green moss. Follow the foot path along the creek. You’ll know you’re there when you see a giant tunnel in the rock face. The creek and the train tracks go right through the mountain to the other side but people aren’t allowed. Back at the top of the hill, walk the cliff side Lover’s Leap Trail for the best views of the gorge. From here you’ll see the warm sunshine playing on the turning leaves above the tunnel. Stay here to see the train come through from above or go between the bright colored tree tops on the chair lift to the boardwalk at the bottom. There you can stand right on the tracks at the mouth of the tunnel.
These are great places to enjoy peak foliage, but are just a few of many places to experience the cool temperatures and bright colored leaves that are inviting us outdoors. This weekend, I’ll be taking a camera and some friends to a nearby forest for some leaf peeping and I hope you will too.