It’s the perfect weather for the beginning of fall. The days are fairly warm and the nights are cooling down, but not yet cold — the ideal conditions for hiking, camping, and sleeping with your windows open. The trees are still mostly wearing their summer outfits, but here and there you can see yellowing and flashes of orange. The cooler weather is sending the trees its signal, though, so expect things to progress rapidly over the next few weeks.
Autumn colors tend to begin in the mountains and in the western part of the state. As the season advances, the colors spread eastward and to lower elevations. The Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage Prediction Map predicts that leaves will be at their peak on the weekend of October 18-20. This is earlier than last year, so make sure you’re getting outside over the next few weeks for hikes both in the mountains and in the Valley.
The Virginia Department of Forestry suggests looking to black gum (red), dogwood (scarlet to purple), sumacs (red orange), and even poison ivy (red) for the most color this week. A lot of wildflowers are still in bloom now, so make sure you’re looking along the sides of roads and trails while you’re out exploring this weekend.
If you’re looking for a nice drive, head west of Staunton into Highland and Bath Counties on this VDOF tour.
Check back here for our updated fall foliage report each week if you’re planning to leaf peep this autumn.