The state Division of Forestry released the following fall foliage report for this week in the Mountain State:
State foresters report drastic color changes in leaves throughout West Virginia and anticipate peak or near peak color for this weekend in many areas, including Clay County, higher elevations of Preston and Pendleton counties, Coopers Rock State Forest, Tygart Lake State Park and Babcock State Park.
Clay County foresters report that most of the county is nearing peak and should be at peak by this weekend or early next week. Although oaks are still green, other species are very colorful. Widen Road from Birch River to Clay on the Elk River is the recommended drive.
Upper elevations of Pendleton County are at peak, and foresters say this weekend is the best for leaf peepers to visit. The recommended driving route is U.S. 33 from Riverton to Franklin. In the county’s lower elevations, foliage is at 70 percent peak. Take U.S. Route 220 from Upper Tract through Franklin to Moyers for a colorful scenic drive.
Higher elevations of Preston County are showing an abundance of reds, oranges and yellows and are expected to peak this weekend. U.S. Route 50 toward Terra Alta and Aurora is the recommended drive. In the county’s lower elevations, foliage is reported to be at 65 percent peak and foresters say the best is yet to come, so keep these areas in mind for a future fall driving tour.
Coopers Rock State Forest in Monongalia County is always lovely, but this weekend it can’t be beat as a fall foliage destination. While in Mon County, be sure to take State Route 7 to Wadestown for a colorful and pretty drive.
Tygart Lake State Park in Taylor County is at peak and reported to be exceptionally beautiful this year. One recommended route to the lake is U.S. 119. The other recommended route to Tygart Lake is U.S. 50 from Bridgeport in Harrison County, where foresters urge leaf peepers to come out this weekend for the best viewing of the season.
Babcock State Park, one of the most photographed sites in the state, is expected to peak this weekend or early next week. Babcock is known for its picturesque grist mill.
For those with adventurous spirits, consider hiking the Greenbrier River Trail from Cass to Caldwell. Of course, you don’t have to hike the entire trail for excellent viewing opportunities; you can drive to various locations along the trail and hike whatever distance you desire. Color all along the trail is reported to be worth the trip.
A full spectrum of color is reported in Wetzel County, where leaves are 80 percent peak. Drives along State Route 7 to New Martinsville and along State Route 2 along the Ohio River are recommended. Take a trip along State Route 88 through the Northern Panhandle counties of Brooke, Marshall and Ohio where foliage is approximately 60 percent peak this week.
Lower elevations of Tucker County are 90 percent peak, and some leaves that peaked last week at higher elevations are still holding on, especially along State Route 72 to U.S. Route 219.
In the Eastern Panhandle, State Route 9 along the Cacapon River from Berkeley Springs to Paw Paw is a recommended drive again this week, as is a stop at the Panorama Overlook. Be sure to visit the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area in Berkeley County where gum and dogwood trees are displaying vibrant shades of red.
Hardy and Hampshire counties are reported to be 70 percent peak. Take new State Route 55/Route 48 from Moorefield to Wardensville and Old State Route 55 in Hardy County and U.S. Route 50 from Romney to Capon Bridge and County Route 8/South Branch River Road in Hampshire. Drive through the renowned Trough area where you might spot bald eagles. Grant County’s State Route 42 is recommended from Maysville to Mount Storm. Peak can be seen at the highest elevations of the county.
Smokey Bear has a busy weekend planned with appearances at the Beech Fork State Park 2012 Heron Festival on Saturday, Oct. 13 and at the Lumberjackin’ Bluegrassin’ Jamboree at Twin Falls State Park Oct 12 -14.
Be sure to take U.S. Route 33 to the Black Walnut Festival in Spencer Oct. 11-14. Foliage in Roane County is reported to be 75 percent peak. U.S. Route 50 through Wood, Ritchie and Doddridge counties is highly recommended. Foliage in Doddridge County is 90 percent peak.
Visit the Division of Forestry’s Facebook page for foliage updates throughout the week: www.facebook.com/wvforestry.
The next fall foliage report will be posted Thursday, Oct. 18 on the DOF’s website, www.wvforestry.com.