10:06am: Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval

Fall Colors Hitting Stride

The state Division Forestry released the following fall foliage report Thursday:

West Virginia Division of Forestry officials say leaves in the New River Gorge are very close to peak, right on schedule for the 33rd annual Bridge Day. On Saturday, Oct. 20, the largest extreme sports event hosts daredevils who will jump, rappel and zipline from one of the world’s longest steel single arch bridges. If their stunts aren’t colorful enough, the event’s background will be. Fall color in the New River Gorge is reported to be excellent this year.

Overall, Fayette County, home of the New River Gorge Bridge, is 85 percent peak. Surrounding counties, including Kanawha, Clay, Nicholas, Greenbrier, Summers and Raleigh range from 70 percent to 90 percent peak. Any route to Bridge Day should provide a colorful drive.

If Bridge Day is not on your weekend agenda, state foresters recommend plenty of other places to get a fall foliage fix. Color in Monongalia County is reported to be so spectacular that it is almost overwhelming, especially in the Morgantown area and at Coopers Rock State Forest.

Every road is scenic this week in Wetzel County, where foliage is peak. The Northern Panhandle counties of Brooke, Hancock, Marshall and Ohio are peak. Although foresters say all roads in the Northern Panhandle will be beautiful drives this weekend, they especially recommend U.S. Route 250 and State Route 2, which runs along the Ohio River.

Pendleton County foresters report terrific color all along the South Branch of the Potomac River and recommend a drive on U.S. Route 33 to Franklin. Foliage in Mineral County is peak; U.S. Route 220 to Keyser is a very colorful drive.

State Route 9 to Martinsburg for the Apple Harvest Festival is highly recommended. Color in Morgan County is 80 percent peak in lower elevations and at peak in higher elevations.

In the western region of the state, foresters report peak color in Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood counties. In Gilmer County, foresters recommend a drive along State Route 5 from Glenville to Burnsville. Jackson County’s County Route 5 from Cottageville to Evans is a colorful drive, and foresters also recommend a drive along County Route 21/Old U.S. Route 21 through Jackson into Wood County. The Little Kanawha Parkway in Wirt County is suggested, as is U.S. Route 33 in Roane County. State Route 16 through Ritchie and Pleasants counties is recommended and so is State Route 2 in Pleasants.

Areas where foliage is not yet peak, but still beautiful, include Hurricane Creek Road in Putnam County where foliage is 70 percent peak; State Route 17 over Blair Mountain and State Route 10 along the Guyandotte River in Logan County; and the Lower Mud River and Sumerco Mountain areas in Lincoln County. From Red House in Putnam County, take State Route 62 through Mason County to Ripley, Jackson County. Then circle back on State Route 34 from Ripley through Kenna to Red House.

For those who prefer interstates to country roads, I-79 between Charleston and Clendenin is nearing peak, and I-64 from Charleston to Huntington is showing radiant color.

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. 25 on the DOF’s website, www.wvforestry.com.

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