Fall color beginning to show in West Virginia

Fred Pace

September 30, 2013

It’s that time of year again!

Time to break out the light layers and trade sipping frosty lemonade on hot afternoons for savoring hot cocoa on chilly mornings – it’s fall. Best of all, it’s that time when Mother Nature dresses her very best.

If your fall spirit is kicking in and you’re anxious to take in some glorious autumn foliage before it’s gone, consider bringing along your favorite four-legged friend. He’ll enjoy seeing the sites, but most of all he’ll love getting some fresh air and exercise with his favorite human.

The entire state of West Virginia offers colorful drives and great events in every corner during the fall. There’s no shortage of beautiful color here.

The state is nearly 80 percent forested, so you’ll find plenty of Mother Nature’s handiwork in shades of red, orange, yellow, brown and green.

The color show begins in eastern West Virginia in late September and early October, while the middle and northern parts of the state show peak colors around mid-October. In southern West Virginia, the leaves begin changing colors in October as well, but peak during late October.

West Virginia Division of Forestry (DOF) officials are paying close attention to the changing leaves so they can provide the public with the most colorful routes to see fall foliage at its peak. State Foresters will compile reports weekly throughout October, and the information, including route numbers and specific points of interest, will be released to the public each Thursday afternoon.

“The fall foliage season is a wonderful opportunity to showcase West Virginia’s forests,” said State Forestry Director Randy Dye. “What better people to provide foliage updates than the folks who know our woods the best – our state foresters?”

Photos and updates, as available, will be posted to the DOF’s Facebook page,

Currently, foliage at the highest peaks in Greenbrier, Nicholas, Webster, Pocahontas and Randolph counties has the most color. Foresters report maple, birch, gum and ash trees in areas 3,000 feet and higher are the most colorful at present. Tucker County, always a favorite destination for leaf peepers, is reported to be 40 percent peak. U.S. Route 219 through Davis, Thomas and Canaan Valley is the recommended drive in that area. Spruce Knob Lake in Pendleton County is at 40 percent peak.

Why Leaves Change Colors? As the sun moves farther south the hours of daylight decrease and temperatures fall, causing leaves to stop producing chlorophyll, the chemical that colors them green. With the disappearance of chlorophyll, the underlying colors of the leaves are visible. The next strongest pigment becomes dominant, giving the leaves a “new” color.




Ash, White - Yellow

Basswood - Yellow

Beech - Yellow

Birch, River - Dull Yellow

Birch, Sweet - Yellow

Buckeye, Ohio - Yellow

Coffeetree, Kentucky - Yellow

Cottonwood, Eastern - Yellow

Elder, Box - Yellow

Elm, American - Yellow

Hazel Nut - Brownish Yellow

Hickory, Mockernut - Dull Yellow

Hickory, Pignut - Dull Yellow

Hickory, Shagbark - Dull Yellow

Hickory, Shellbark - Dull Yellow

Hophornbeam, Eastern - Yellow

Locust, Black - Yellow

Locust, Honey - Yellow

Maple, Silver - Pale Yellow

Oak, Chestnut - Yellow

Pecan - Dull Yellow

Redbud, Eastern - Yellow

Shad Bush - Bright Clear Yellow

Tuliptree - Yellow

Walnut, Black - Yellow

Walnut, White - Bright Yellow

Willow, Black - Pale Yellow


Dogwood - Crimson

Gum, Black - Deep Red

Oak, Northern Red - Rusty Red

Oak, Pin - Crimson

Oak, Scarlet - Scarlet

Oak, Southern Red - Rusty Red

Oak, Swamp Chestnut - Dark Crimson

Sourwood - Deep Red

Sumac - Brilliant Red


Oak, Bur - Pale Brown

Oak, Post - Pale Brown

Oak, Shingle - Brown

Oak, Swamp White - Pale Brown


Hawthorn - Brilliant Varying Colors

Hazel Nut - Brownish Yellow

Hornbeam - Orange, Scarlet

Maple, Red - Red, Orange

Maple, Sugar - Yellow, Orange, Red

Oak, Black - Dull Red to Orange Brown

Oak, Blackjack - Dull Yellow or Brown

Oak, White - Pink or Red

Persimmon - Glossy Green with Yellow

Sassafras - Red, Orange, Yellow

Sweetgum - Yellow, Orange, Brown

Sycamore, American - Yellow, Brown

Witch Hazel - Bright Yellow-Orange

No Change: Magnolia, Umbrella - No Change and Holly, American - No Change.

Please call your park of destination before your visit to confirm the best possible showing time for fall color. Weekly updates on fall color are available by calling 1-800-CALL WVA during the autumn season.