Kentucky’s 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.
Nearly half of Kentucky’s land area – about 12 million acres -- is
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, from red and purple to yellow and gold.
Dean Henson, with Kentucky State Parks, notes that many variables
contribute to the degree of foliage color in any given fall season.
“The greater the frequency of crisp, sunny days with no evening frost,
the more brilliant our colors,” notes Henson, an expert on foliage
stages in southeastern Kentucky. “For those seasons when the fickle mix
of environmental factors is just right, waiting eyes are rewarded with a
beaming display of color.”
The color changes usually begin as early as late 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,
where many roads pass through heavily wooded and mountainous terrain
that shows off fall foliage colors to great advantage. Or visit one of Kentucky's Trail Towns
to access hundreds of miles of trails.for all sorts of outdoor pursuits.
Among the most scenic routes in western Kentucky is the Woodlands Trace
National Scenic Byway 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 fall beauty
without roadside distractions like signs and billboards.
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.
For more than three decades ColorFall has provided reports on stages of color changes from key locations across the state. 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 a special Facebook page.
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. www.kentuckytourism.com