Natural Wanders: There’s still time to hit the road and enjoy fall foliage

Art Weber

        Opportunity is knocking.
        It looks as though there’s still time to take a fall getaway and enjoy some great color. Most places are reporting that peak fall color is at least a week behind the norm. Fall colors are a tricky thing to predict so there’s an element of chance involved.
        An unexpected hard freeze, high winds, heavy rains or any combination of those things can bring the colors to the ground.
        This will be the peak here in many locations. Remember, fall color isn’t just an evenly orchestrated event, with all trees changing at the same time. Most of our buckeyes and cottonwoods, along with some of the other trees that like lining the banks of our rivers and streams, changed early and are bare or nearly so.
        Maple trees, a crowd favorite in the fall, are coming into their own now with most oaks still to come. That’s here. Even the Lake Erie islands have reported some nice color right now.
        Peak fall color was a week behind in northern Vermont and the delay has cascaded southward ever since.
        As of late last week, down in southern Ohio, along the Ohio River, the oak-hickory forest was mostly green. Gatlinburg, the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, expects the peak there to be this week or later.               Among the most convenient last minute-trips that would have promising fall foliage are the various campgrounds, cabins, and lodges of the Ohio State Parks. Among those I personally recommend include Mohican, which can be unbelievable when the maples are glowing; Salt Fork State Park with its big lake and extensive woodland; Hueston Woods and its beech-maple forest, and Shawnee State Park and Forest which carries the nickname, “Ohio’s Little Smokies.”
        All of those state parks feature resort lodges that make excellent getaways. Visit for more information. Some lodges are undergoing renovations, so be aware in advance what services or facilities might not be available.
        Ohio is also blessed with an extraordinary selection of bed and breakfasts, inns and cabins that are worth investigating as well. Among the excellent choices are the Inn at Cedar Falls and Glen Laurel Inn and Cottages in Hocking Hills; Murphin Ridge Inn along the Ohio River near Portsmouth; The Inn at Honey Run in Holmes County, and Wishmaker House Bed and Breakfast near Mohican.
        For years, peak color in many of these locations was mid-October, sometime around Oct. 15. In recent years that peak color date has been inching forward on the calendar, and the peak color dates for the eastern United States consistently seem to be at least a week later.
        The promise this year is for color to persist well into November. Even here at home, Secor Metropark, with its many beech trees has an understory of colorful coppery and yellow leaves well into the month of November. That would seem to be true this year, too.
        That all means there’s likely still time to make plans, hit the road and enjoy the beautiful fall colors.


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