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2020 Fall Foliage: Hints Of Color In Southwest VA, Alleghenies

Patch logo Patch 9/26/2020 Deb Belt
a view of a forest: If you're planning a fall foliage tour, this tool can help you map it out. Virginia forestry staffers share where fall color is beginning to pop. © Shutterstock If you're planning a fall foliage tour, this tool can help you map it out. Virginia forestry staffers share where fall color is beginning to pop.

VIRGINIA — In southwest Virginia and the Alleghenies, trees at high elevations are starting to display blazing reds, vibrant oranges and sunny yellows this week. Viewing Mother Nature can be a safe way to get out of the house during the coronavirus pandemic, especially since many annual fall festivals have been canceled.

The weekly 2020 Virginia fall foliage report issued this week said the big color show is still to come. Throughout the state, the deep green of the forests has started fading as cooler nights trigger changes in the pigments that give leaves their color. This weekend you can spot some of the early changers like black gum, dogwood, Virginia creeper, and even poison ivy flashing shades of red along forest edges, according to the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Fall wildflowers are blooming along Virginia’s roadsides, from yellow goldenrod, wingstem, and tickseed, and purple from ironweed, asters, and mistflower.

The Virginia Department of Foresty recommends these fall foliage driving tours designed by local foresters:

How To Check On Foliage

  • Fall Foliage Report - 1.800.424.LOVE (begins around September 23 each year)
  • Skyline Drive/Shenandoah National Park - 540.999.3500 (press "6")
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (between Waynesboro and the North Carolina border) - 828.298.0398 (press "3")

The Commonwealth offers some stunning vistas, including several in state parks suggested by the Virginia Department of Forestry:

Visit Fairfax offers these suggestions for nearby foliage:

The updated Fall Foliage Prediction Map from SmokyMountains.com provides peak leaf change predictions for the entire continental United States.

In northern Virginia, the week of Oct. 19 looks good for a trip into the great outdoors, while the peak for western Virginia is Oct. 12, and Oct. 26 is when colors should be best in the counties closes to Chesapeake Bay.

The major factors that determine the fall foliage peak are sunlight, precipitation, soil moisture and temperature. The map takes in 50,000 predictive data sets, then churns out a county-by-county analysis of when the fall peak will occur, according to SmokyMountains.com co-founder David Angotti, an expert on statistics.

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