Fall leaf peeping right around the corner in West Virginia

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Credit: Tara Burnett/WV Department of Tourism

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK/WBOY/WV Tourism/WV Forestry) – Now that fall has arrived, the West Virginia Department of Tourism released its annual autumn forecast map to help travelers plan trips around peak leaf season.

This week, patchy and partial leaf changes have started to come out in the foothills and mountains of north-central West Virginia.

Colors are starting to pop in Tucker County, as oranges and reds are seen from Canaan Valley Resort’s scenic chairlift.

Will this Fall be favorable for leaf-peeping? Yes!

The Fall of 2021 is expected to be a good season for leaves changing into their vibrant colors. Why is that the case?

Afternoon high temperatures have been near-average to wrap up the month of September and will continue follow that trend as we enter October.

Cool, but not freezing or below-freezing temperatures are needed in the morning hours, along with the gradual narrowing of leaf veins in the fall, means that a majority of the sugars produced are trapped in the leaf. An abundance of sugar and light in the leaf lead to the production of vivid anthocyanin pigments, which produce red, purple and crimson colors.

We also need dry and sunny days to allow for the pigmentation of the leaves to change color with little to no drought to allow for soil moisture to properly change the colors of the leaves.

Where and when will we see the best leaf peeping?

Now that Autumn is in full swing, Mountaineers from all over West Virginia are going to start their journey across the Wild and Wonderful in search of the most vibrant colors in our trees.

Here’s the best leaf peeping areas heading into the first weekend of October:

EARLY OCTOBER LEAF CHANGES

The forecast, prepared in partnership with the West Virginia Division of Forestry, kicks off weekly fall foliage updates from the Department of Tourism. Each report will include the percentage of color change across the state and feature a scenic road trip with tips and suggested stops to help travelers find fall activities and leaf viewing opportunities.

The coloration guide will help you determine types of trees and specimens.

“The fall season in West Virginia is in full swing, and we can’t wait to see fall color start to make its arrival,” said West Virginia Secretary of Tourism Chelsea Ruby. “As the third most forested state, there are going to be plenty of viewing opportunities now through November. We hope folks will follow along with us as we make our way across the state with road trips, travel tips and more on how to make the best of fall in Almost Heaven, West Virginia.”

In addition to the fall forecast map, fall foliage updates will be released on Wednesday each week to give travelers enough time to plan weekend road trips. The Department of Tourism’s live leaf tracker will also be updated daily to give travelers an updated look at color around the state. The tracker, which can be viewed online at WVtourism.com/fall, is updated with photos from social media with #AlmostHeaven.

2021 Official West Virginia Fall Foliage Map

“Once again, we’re encouraging all West Virginians to help us showcase our state’s beautiful fall colors by sharing photos on social media with #AlmostHeaven,” Ruby said. “Everyone can be an influencer, and your photos can help travelers from across the country see that West Virginia is the place to be this fall.”

Travelers planning a fall color road trip are encouraged to download the West Virginia Department of Tourism’s fall inspiration guide. This free digital guide has a checklist of can’t-miss activities, a leaf identification chart and the 2021 fall color forecast map provided by the Division of Forestry.

“Fall color comes and goes quickly and first arrives at higher elevations before working its way to lower elevations,” said Division of Forestry Director Tom Cover. “This once-a-year event is one of the best ways to enjoy West Virginia’s beautiful mountains and forests and we want to encourage folks to get out there and take time to enjoy it while it lasts.”

To access the Department of Tourism’s fall forecast map, live leaf tracker tool and fall inspiration guide, visit WVtourism.com/fall.

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