Following Fall Color

By Emily Hackeling. Previously published in the 2015 Fall Issue.

There are many things that signify summer days are dwindling. Maybe you pull out your box of sweaters for the first time in months, or you decide to make that chicken potpie for a nice warm dinner. Your coffee goes from being iced with a straw to warm in a mug. Maybe you start to take afternoon walks to enjoy the cooler weather. Whatever your traditions may be, nothing defines fall better than the colors of the leaves on the trees. This fall, enjoy the most colorful season of the year by following the changing leaves from Maine to Alabama.

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Maine’s endless outdoor activities make it a fun place to start exploring fall foliage. The northern part of the state sees color change as early as mid-September, and the vibrant hues move down the state, with leaves changing around Halloween at the state’s southern-most tip.

  • Where to Visit: Kennebec County, which encompasses Augusta, the Belgrade Lakes and Kennebec Valley, is a great place to see fall color change. Augusta is a quaint city that empties out at the end of the summer, so autumn is a perfect time to visit and avoid the tourist rush. While you’re there, visit the Belgrade Lakes region, which includes a chain of seven lakes located just 10 miles from the city. There, visitors enjoy hiking, fishing and kayaking during the fall months. In addition to taking in Maine’s reds, purples and yellows, stop and pick some apples at one of the many orchards outside Augusta.
  • When to Visit: Last week in September to first week in October
  • What to Do: Hiking, fishing, boating and apple picking

NEW HAMPSHIRE

New Hampshire is an outdoor haven of lakes, tall mountains, deep valleys, optimal stargazing and, of course, lush forests, making it a perfect spot for viewing fall colors.

  • Where to Visit: The White Mountains in New Hampshire offer a great place to see fall foliage while enjoying a peaceful mountain atmosphere. Drive the Kancamagus Highway through White Mountain National Forest, 800,000 acres of small towns and undeveloped land. Along the way, you’ll pass waterfalls and plenty of places to stop and take in the fall colors. On your way out of the state, check out Flume Gorge, a natural chasm with hiking, caves to explore and bridges over beautiful waterfalls.
  • When to Visit: Last week in September to mid-October
  • What to Do: Swimming, boating, golfing and hiking

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PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania boasts the longest period of color and most varied fall foliage of anywhere in the world. Its geographic location and topography from sea level to more than 3,000 feet high in the Laurel Highlands create the perfect environment for 134 species of trees.

  • Where to Visit: Promised Land State Park has 12,000 acres of trees in Pennsylvania’s Delaware State Forest. The park offers spectacular views of fall leaves, and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy while you’re driving through the park. Try renting a boat on the freshwater lakes, hiking on Little Falls Trail or even stay a night or two in the quaint, rustic cabins scattered throughout the forest.
  • When to Visit: Last two weeks of October
  • What to Do: Hiking, boating and fishing

Virginia (Blue Ridge through NC)

The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia are home to two of America’s most popular mountainous paths: the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail. Millions of visitors come each year to see the impressive show of foliage in the region.

  • Where to Visit: Celebrate the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 80th birthday this year with a drive through the fall foliage. Along the parkway you can encounter more than 40 National Heritage areas and more than 300 paved overlooks for getting the best view of the leaves. When you’re exploring Virginia’s colors, be sure to stop by Crabtree Falls, located in Nelson County. At more than 1,000 feet tall, these falls are some of the biggest east of the Mississippi River.
  • When to Visit: Last two weeks of October
  • What to Do: Hiking

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TENNESSEE

Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to the oldest mountains in the world. As if that’s not impressive enough, the area also has endless mountain activity that can only be done in Tennessee, such as visiting blackberry farms, seeing the Dixie Stampede or exploring the Tuckaleechee Caverns.

  • Where to Visit: While you’re in the area, try stopping by Pikeville, TN, to see Fall Creek Falls. They’re 256 feet high and are surrounded by acres of oak and hickory forests, making it the perfect place to stop and have a picnic lunch while enjoying the fall color. For a taste of Tennessee life, visit Gatlinburg, a small town nestled in the Smokies filled with community artisans and cultural crafts. From pottery and jewelry, to woven baskets and stained glass, you’ll be delighted by Tennessee’s rich heritage.
  • When to Visit: Last two weeks of October
  • What to Do: Hiking

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GEORGIA (Lookout Mountain)

Since Lookout Mountain begins in Chattanooga, TN, and stretches all the way through Georgia to Northern Alabama, it’s a perfect route to take to continue seeing fall colors.

  • Where to Visit: Lookout Mountain has 84 miles of mountain views and beautiful trees. The range’s highest point, in Walker County, has amazing views of two valleys at once – the Chattanooga Valley to the east and Lookout Valley to the west. A popular stop for those traveling through the mountains here is Rock City. There, millions of years of sandstone erosion in the mountainous landscape have produced bizarre, huge boulders and deep caves.
    When to Visit: Last two weeks of October through early November
  • What to Do: Hiking and golfing

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ALABAMA (Little River Canyon Rim Parkway)

Red dogwoods, yellow poplars, golden hickory trees and orange maples fill Alabama’s fall landscape, making it a gorgeous last stop to see vibrant fall colors.

  • Where to Visit: Little River Canyon Rim Parkway is a 22-mile drive through one of the most scenic parts of the state. Along the way, there are lookouts over the vast valleys and canyons, such as Bear Creek and Dees Branch, which are some of the most popular sightseeing spots. While you’re there, stop and see the state’s highest waterfall, Grace’s High Falls, and Canyon Mouth Park, a beautiful spot where Little River enters Lake Weiss.
  • When to Visit: First two weeks of November
  • What to Do: Hiking and boating

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About David Heck

David writes for ideal-LIVING Magazine; the leading source for consumer property purchases and retirement home destinations in the southeast.
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