vast expanses of forested terrain make it one of the best places in the
U.S. to enjoy nature’s spectacular display of fall color. About 12
million acres – 47 percent of Kentucky’s land area – are forested, and
some 175 tree species grow wild in the state. Kentucky is rich in
hardwood forests populated by trees known for their bright fall colors.
Under the right conditions, dogwoods and sumacs can turn red and purple,
sugar maples turn orange and red, oaks, sourwoods and sweet gums take
on red hues, and poplars and hickories turn yellow and gold.
The color changes usually begin as early as September in the higher
elevations of the eastern mountains and gradually progress to the west
during October and into early November.
Scenic vistas and great outdoor pursuits like hiking, camping and biking make the
mountains of eastern Kentucky ideal for experiencing autumn color. Enjoy
a cozy fall mountain escape at several state park lodges that offer all
the necessities for a memory-making romantic getaway.
Take a scenic drive in Daniel Boone National Forest
in eastern Kentucky. At the northern end, explore the Red River Gorge
and Zilpo Scenic Byways
, while the southern end boasts the Wilderness Road Heritage Highway
. The byways pass through heavily wooded and mountainous terrain that shows off fall foliage colors to great advantage.
Among the most scenic routes in western Kentucky is the Woodlands Trace National Scenic Bywa
y in Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area
In central Kentucky, fall is an ideal time to take the Bluegrass
Country Driving Tour, which winds past horse farms with their wooden and
stone fences underneath a canopy of many-colored leaves.
Rail excursions, such as southeastern Kentucky’s Big South Fork Scenic Railway
, provide an excellent way for families to take in the fall beauty without roadside distractions like signs and billboards.
You won’t find a better venue than Bernheim Forest
near Clermont from which to admire the sculptural grace of mature trees
in a natural setting. Stroll the paths or hike the trails and take in
colorful fall displays that include maples, dogwoods, magnolias,
conifers, cypresses, hollies, beeches and buckeyes.
While you’re out and about, joining in a fall festival is another way to
experience autumn’s pleasures. A host of fests are all about enjoying
the season and its traditional events. A fall visit to an orchard or
farm open to the public can yield plenty of apples, pumpkins, Indian
corn, gourds and other autumn bounty.
You don’t even have to leave the city to take in fall color. Strolling
tree-lined streets in older neighborhoods, cemeteries, campuses and
historic grounds in Lexington, Louisville and other cities is a
pleasurable fall pursuit.
Although each year is different, consulting Kentucky’s ColorFall program
will give you a general idea about when and where you might expect to
see the beautiful shades of autumn in the Bluegrass State.
Now in its 26th year, ColorFall includes reports on stages of leaf changes from spotters at Kentucky state parks as well as Mammoth Cave National Park
, Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area
, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
, and Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary
The program provides updated blog posts from across the state, links to
special events of the season, and offers an opportunity to share your
own digital photos of fall travels on the website.
To access, open the ColorFall icon on KentuckyTourism.com
to obtain a variety of information about the state’s beauty at this
time of year. You can also call the ColorFall hotline at 800-225-8747.
The program continues through Oct. 31.
Check on weather and leaf stages before you make plans to go in search
of fall displays in Kentucky. A well-timed trip will produce a treasure
trove of inspiring impressions.