Fall foliage tours popular as seasons change

Photo courtesy of West Virginia Department of Commerce West Virginia 62 in Jackson County should see peak fall foliage color in late October.

PARKERSBURG — A popular activity in the early autumn is to drive around and view the changing colors of the local trees as the green of spring and summer turns into the reds, yellows and other colors of the fall season.

The scientific reason for the color changes is a process called photoperiodism. As the sun moves farther south, the hours of daylight shorten and the temperatures fall, causing leaves to cease production of chlorophyll, the chemical that colors leaves green. As the chlorophyll disappears, the underlying colors of the leaves are unmasked. The next strongest pigment becomes dominant giving the leaves a “new” color.

Wild, Wonderful West Virginia has worked with West Virginia State Parks and tourism industry partners to encourage West Virginians and visitors to share their fall foliage photos at GoToWV.com/fall.

In past years, West Virginia tourism officials have identified 23 byways and backways which offer picturesque glimpses into the state’s history and natural beauty, with two of those in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Spanning the width of the state, the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike National Scenic Byway witnessed some of the great Civil War battles that determined the future of western Virginia. Begun in 1838, the turnpike followed Indian paths from Staunton, Va., to the Ohio River port at Parkersburg. The Little Kanawha Byway is described as the most accessible of West Virginia’s byways, with Interstate 77 at one end and I-79 at the other. It begins in Mineral Wells and mirrors the banks of the Little Kanawha River.

One local event celebrating fall colors will be the 28th annual Fall Foliage Tour and Antique Engine/Equipment Show on Oct. 14-15 at several locations along Ohio 26 north of Marietta. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 14 and noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 15 and is sponsored by the Little Muskingum Watershed Association.

In addition to the self-guided driving tour along Ohio 26, there will be stops with food, applebutter, games, crafts, raffles and other activities.


W.Va. Fall Foliage Coloration Guide


* Ash, White: Yellow

* Basswood: Yellow

* Beech: Yellow

* Birch, River: Dull Yellow

* Birch, Sweet: Yellow

* Buckeye, Ohio: Yellow

* Coffeetree, Kentucky: Yellow

* Cottonwood, Eastern: Yellow

* Elder, Box: Yellow

* Elm, American: Yellow

* Hazel Nut: Brownish Yellow

* Hickory, Mockernut: Dull Yellow

* Hickory, Pignut: Dull Yellow

* Hickory, Shagbark: Dull Yellow

* Hickory, Shellbark: Dull Yellow

* Hophornbeam, Eastern: Yellow

* Locust, Black: Yellow

* Locust, Honey: Yellow

* Maple, Silver: Pale Yellow

* Oak, Chestnut: Yellow

* Pecan: Dull Yellow

* Redbud, Eastern: Yellow

* Shad Bush: Bright Clear Yellow

* Tuliptree: Yellow

* Walnut, Black: Yellow

* Walnut, White: Bright Yellow

* Willow, Black: Pale Yellow


* Dogwood: Crimson

* Gum, Black: Deep Red

* Oak, Northern Red: Rusty Red

* Oak, Pin: Crimson

* Oak, Scarlet: Scarlet

* Oak, Southern Red: Rusty Red

* Oak, Swamp Chestnut: Dark Crimson

* Sourwood: Deep Red

* Sumac: Brilliant Red


* Oak, Bur: Pale Brown

* Oak, Post: Pale Brown

* Oak, Shingle: Brown

* Oak, Swamp White: Pale Brown


* Hawthorn: Brilliant Varying Colors

* Hazel Nut: Brownish Yellow

* Hornbeam: Orange and Scarlet

* Maple, Red: Red and Orange

* Maple, Sugar: Yellow, Orange and Red

* Oak, Black: Dull Red to Orange Brown

* Oak, Blackjack: Dull Yellow or Brown

* Oak, White: Pink or Red

* Persimmon: Glossy Green with Yellow

* Sassafras: Red, Orange and Yellow

* Sweetgum: Yellow, Orange and Brown

* Sycamore, American: Yellow and Brown

* Witch Hazel: Bright Yellow-Orange


* Magnolia, Umbrella

* Holly, American