Take a leaf peeping tour and see West Virginia’s beautiful mountain scenery decked out in fall color.
Can you feel it in the air? That subtle shift, when mornings are a little cooler and autumn’s paintbrush kisses those first few leaves. Sept. 22 marks the first day of fall and the beginning of leaf peeping season. What better way to celebrate the season by spending some quality time in nature?
Our parks and forests offer some of the Mountain State’s best locations for seeing autumn’s finery. Don’t miss out! Plan a day trip or autumn getaway and book your stay at one of our lodges or cabins today.
Here are some great places to start your autumn adventure. This list is based on estimated peak color zones in West Virginia. (Note that peak color can vary slightly year to year. Contact the park you plan to visit for more information.)
Late September to Early October
With stunning views of the Allegheny Mountains, majestic waterfalls and awe-inspiring overlooks, it’s no wonder Blackwater Falls State Park is one of the most photographed places in West Virginia. Add a background of beautiful autumn hues, and this park might just take your breath away.
For a unique leaf peeping experience, ride the antique steam engine at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. This 4.5 hour ride takes you up to the overlook at Bald Knob, the third-highest point in West Virginia. From there, you can enjoy a spectacular display of fall color from 4,700 feet above sea level.
The Cranny Crow overlook at Lost River State Park, with its commanding view of five counties, is a favorite spot for fall color. As one of the state’s most remote and beautiful parks, it’s also a great place to get away from it all and enjoy a weekend of hiking or horseback riding.
With commanding views of the Cheat River Canyon and 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, Coopers Rock State Forest is an outdoor lover’s dream. It’s also a great place for leaf peeping! The forest campground remains open in the fall, so you can enjoy a cool autumn night roasting marshmallows around a campfire.
Valley Falls State Park is only a short drive from Coopers Rock and a great place to see fall foliage. This day-use park is a favorite spot among picnickers and hikers. The rushing waters of the picturesque Tygart Valley River look even more beautiful framed in fall colors.
The cool tunnel formed by the trees on either side of the North Bend Rail-Trail make for a beautiful bike ride in the fall. Plan to stay at North Bend State Park, which offers access to the rail trail as well as guided outdoor activities through its Quest program.
Mention fall in West Virginia and the New River Gorge is one of the first places that comes to mind. Capture some breathtaking views of the gorge from Hawks Nest State Park during an aerial tram ride from the lodge. Just a few miles away at Babcock State Park, the classic view of the working grist mill against a background of fall color is on every photographer’s shot list.
Fall is also a good time to head to the Gauley River National Recreation Area, where Gauley Season is in full swing. From the overlooks at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park you can watch rafters navigate the gnarly Class V rapids below.
Pipestem Resort State Park offers stunning views of the Bluestone River Gorge, where you can take in the scenery from an aerial tram ride. Or, ramp up your leaf peeping excursion with a leisurely bike ride along the 10-mile Bluestone Turnpike. This old road follows the river and connects Pipestem to Bluestone State Park.
Enjoy Fall Activities at West Virginia State Parks
To round out your leaf peeping trip, visit www.wvstateparks.com and see what fall activities parks have to offer. Fall is a special time to enjoy state parks and make memories with your friends and families. Which park will you visit?