Kentucky Fall Colors
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. 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 takeon 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 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 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.