Fall Foliage Report: Leaves Changing QuicklyThe West Virginia Division of Forestry released its second fall foliage report of the season Thursday:
West Virginia Division of Forestry (DOF) officials say the upcoming three-day Columbus Day weekend is the perfect opportunity to see peak foliage in a variety of areas of the Mountain State. Leaves are changing quickly and adding breathtaking color to the already gorgeous scenery of the higher elevations. Lower elevations are coming along nicely too, so even if you don’t get to the highest peaks, you should see color wherever you go.
Dolly Sods Wilderness and Spruce Knob were reported to be at peak earlier this week. Good color may remain through the weekend. Spruce Knob was reported to have an especially colorful display of reds, oranges and yellows.
The upper elevations of Randolph and Pocahontas counties are expected to peak this weekend, including perennial foliage hotspots like Cheat Mountain and Shavers Mountain. Foresters recommend drives from Huttonsville along U.S. Route 219 to Marlinton or along U.S. Route 250 from Huttonsville across Cheat Mountain through Durbin and Bartow and to the Virginia state line. The Highland Scenic Highway also is a recommended drive this weekend.
If you’re going to the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins, the lower areas around the town won’t peak for another 7-10 days, but the higher elevations around the town should be very colorful. Randolph and Pocahontas counties are currently at 75 percent peak.
Greenbrier, Nicholas and Webster counties are at 70 percent peak. Foresters report peak for the eastern portion of Nicholas is very close and that maples are especially colorful there this year. State Route 55 from Muddlety to Kennison Mountain is recommended as is State Route 20 from Cowen to Rock Cave. Point Mountain in Webster County is reported to be beautiful, but not quite at peak.
Higher elevations of Tucker County are at 80 percent peak with a variety of reds, oranges and yellows. State Route 32 from Davis to Harman is a recommended drive. Color in Preston County along U.S. Route 50 toward Tucker County is said to be outstanding. Audra State Park in Barbour County is reported to have 30 percent peak color. Tygart Lake State Park in Taylor County is reported to be exceptionally beautiful this time of year.
Eastern Monongalia County’s maples are showing off with great yellow hues, adding to the already beautiful color in that area. Coopers Rock State Forest is a sure bet for good color and plenty of recreational opportunities.
Foresters in Wetzel County say if yellow is your favorite color then you are in luck this week because most of the county’s yellow poplar and walnut leaves are turning. Add those yellow hues to the oranges of the maples and the reds of the Virginia creeper and you’ve got colorful drives, especially on State Route 2 along the Ohio River. Foresters also recommend a drive along State Route 7 to Hundred for HundredFest on Saturday, Oct. 6. State Route 88 has good color through West Liberty all the way to Oglebayfest/Ohio County Fair where the DOF and Smokey Bear will be on hand to answer your forestry questions. A drive along State Route 8 past Tomlinson Run State Park in Hancock County is recommended for good color.
A drive along U.S. Route 50 from the Mineral County line to Gormania is recommended in Grant County, where higher elevations are 70 percent peak. And not to be forgotten are the Eastern Panhandle counties of Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan. Understory species in cool valleys are showing an array of gold and yellow, Virginia creeper is bright red and dogwood leaves are purple and the trees have bright red berries. Red maples are showing colors along roads, especially in some of the higher elevations. Morgan County foresters say you must stop at the Panorama Overlook along State Route 9 on your way to the Berkeley Springs Apple Butter Festival on Saturday, Oct. 6.
Foliage in the state’s western counties is coming along nicely. Jackson, Pleasants, Roane, Tyler, Wirt and Wood counties are at 40 percent peak. Drives along County Route 21/Old U.S. Route 21 from Kenna to Rockport and on State Route 16 from St. Marys to Ellenboro are recommended. Foresters also suggest a drive along U.S. Route 50 through Wood, Ritchie and Doddridge counties for some nice early color. In Wirt County, be sure to take State Route 14 into Elizabeth for Wirt County Pioneer Day on Saturday, Oct. 6.
Don’t forget, if you attend this weekend’s West Virginia Pumpkin Festival in Milton, be sure to stop by the DOF’s exhibit and say hello to Smokey Bear and his forester friends.
Visit the Division of Forestry’s Facebook page for foliage updates throughout the week: www.facebook.com/wvforestry
The next fall foliage report will be posted Thursday, Oct. 11 on the DOF’s website, www.wvforestry.com.