Find the best places to enjoy fall foliage

Enjoy the colors of the season with help from MDC’s weekly fall color forecast. Pictured is a white oak tree displaying orange fall color. (Source MDC)
Enjoy the colors of the season with help from MDC’s weekly fall color forecast. Pictured is a white oak tree displaying orange fall color. (Source MDC)

(KBSI) – As temperatures cool down, trees begin to change color. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages people to enjoy fall foliage through camping, driving tours, hiking, or floating.

MDC offers weekly online fall color updates from agency foresters all over the state.

Missouri Fall Color Report

Illinois Fall Color Report

Kentucky Fall Colors

Tennessee Fall Colors

Missouri’s reports begin around mid-September and are updated weekly. They show users where trees are beginning to turn and suggest the best places to see the changing leaves.

Much of fall color depends on the weather. MDC Forestry Field Programs Supervisor Russell Hinnah says the dry summer weather could affect this year’s color.

“We had droughty conditions over the summer, which could cause trees to lose their leaves early or begin changing colors earlier than normal,” Hinnah said. “This may affect the amount of fall color we see later in the season.”

The season’s chilly evenings are important for leaves to change color.

“Sugars produced by photosynthesis are trapped inside leaves by the chilly autumn nights,” Hinnah explained. “Those sugars are the building blocks for the rich red, yellow, orange, and purple pigments. Cool nights cause the breakdown of green pigments, allowing the fall colors to show through.”

Missouri trees first begin changing color in the northern part of the state, then move southward. Sassafras, sumac, and Virginia creeper are some of the earliest to change in mid-September. In late September, black gum, bittersweet, and dogwood are turning. The peak of fall color is usually around mid-October, according to MDC.

For spectacular leaf peeping, choose routes along rivers with views of forested bluffs, and along ridges with sweeping scenes of forested landscapes.

Fall color isn’t limited to trees. Prairies and roadsides can display shades of gold, purple, olive, and auburn with autumn wildflowers, shrubs, and grasses.

Enjoy places with mature trees, such as older neighborhoods, parks, and even cemeteries in cities and towns.

The weekly reports include what kinds of trees are turning and suggestions on the best places to view them. The updates run from September through November.

Leaves turn at different times, so Missourians can enjoy a fall color season that may last four to six weeks, according to MDC. Sassafras, sumac, and Virginia creeper are some of the earliest to change, beginning in mid-September. By late September, black gum, bittersweet, and dogwood are turning.

The peak of fall color in Missouri is usually around mid-October. That’s when maples, ashes, oaks, and hickories are at the height of their fall display. Normally by late October, the colors are fading and the leaves beginning to drop from the trees. Fall color is usually finished by the middle of November.

The progression of color change usually starts in northern and western Missouri first and moves southward and eastward across the state. Generally, the color change is predictable, but it can vary from year to year. Much of it depends on the weather.

MDC’s Fall Color Reports usually begin in the second half of September (whenever colors start to appear) and wrap up around the middle of November, when most of the leaves have fallen. Reports appear weekly and are usually posted by Thursday evenings.

For spectacular vistas, choose routes along rivers with views of forested bluffs, and along ridges with sweeping scenes of forested landscapes.

On a smaller scale, drive on back roads, hike, or take a float trip under a colorful forest canopy on a clear, blue-sky day.

Treeless areas such as prairies and roadsides can display beautiful shades of gold, purple, olive, and auburn with autumn wildflowers, shrubs, and curing, rustling grasses.

Those you can’t get out of town can enjoy places with mature trees, such as older neighborhoods, parks, and even cemeteries.

Categories: News