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OCT 15 - Fall Foliage Report

Fall foliage nears peak in Highlands and along the Blue Ridge Parkway
The colors are looking fantastic along Abbott Lake at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.
The colors are looking fantastic along Abbott Lake at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.(Paula Tate)
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 12:52 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 1:40 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - If fall is your season, there’s probably no better weekend to get out and see the emerging colors. Skies will be sunny and temperatures quite crisp for October standards. Highs will reach the upper 50s and low 60s Friday and Saturday. Lows will be in the 30s and 40s.

Nearly all locations along and west of the Blue Ridge Parkway are reporting splendid yellows and oranges with pops of red thanks to the cooler nights and sunny days.

Below is a quick check on how some of our favorite foliage locations are looking this week.

ROARING RUN FALLS

Roaring Run Falls in Botetourt County is by far one of my favorite hikes. In fact, we took a hike there this week. It never disappoints and it’s easy enough that the whole family (and even the dog) can tag along.

The colors are looking fantastic and are falling at a fast pace into the healthy, flowing waterfalls thanks to all the recent rain. You’ll find several bridges that cross the streams and depending on the time of day you take the hike, the leaves will be highlighted adding contrast to the darker shaded valley.

BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY

The Blue Ridge Parkway is nearing peak colors around October 19th, based on predictions. However, leaves should remain colorful through late October. At close inspection, you may note leaves are slightly muted and brittle along the main roads. This has been a common observation throughout the region. This could be due to the extremely hot July we had. Prolonged heat from the pavement can often stress the trees out leading to more muted colors. As you head off the blacktop into the hiking trails, you should notice a slightly better quality of colors.

Take a more broad look through your camera lens and you’ll find the colors won’t disappoint.

PAINT BANK

You’ll want to take that trip to Paint Bank in Craig county soon as colors are peaking. Reports show plenty of reds along the way to the Paint Bank General Store. Don’t forget to save time for a bite to eat at the Swinging Bridge Restaurant and explore Tingler’s Mill and the nearby buffalo farm.

This is a popular trip and there are plenty of overlooks to stop and check out the colors.

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HUMPBACK BRIDGE - ALLEGHANY HIGHLANDS

No trip to the Alleghany Highlands is complete without visiting the Humpback Bridge just west of Covington. The historic bridge lays claim to being the oldest of Virginia’s remaining covered bridges. There are numerous trees surrounding the bridge which spans the trickling stream below. You’ll get some great photos of leaves in the streams as well as splendid colors on the trees.

CLAYTOR LAKE

The New River Valley is full of colors and will be nearing peak the next several weeks, so there’s still plenty of time to select your best road trip along Route 8 to Sinkland Farm, Route 460 to hit Pandapas Pond, and on to some of the covered bridges in Giles Co. Perhaps you’re a fan of the water. The New River and Claytor Lake offer some amazing views from either the shoreline or on the water itself.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE

Although the days are getting cooler, and so is the water, autumn is still one of the best times of year to take a boat out and discover the colors in the coves.

Water temperatures have dropped to the low 70s and you may even get a dense fog hovering over the water if you’re headed out early in the day. Once the sun starts warming things up, the fog gives way to blue skies that are certain to add contrast to the emerging colors which likely won’t peak until the last week of October.

ESTIMATED PEAK TIMES

Below are the estimated peak times which may change slightly by area due to weather conditions. Be sure to share your photos with us here so we can use them on-air.

The Blue Ridge Parkway features incredible mid-October color changes. Mabry Mill is a popular attraction.
The Blue Ridge Parkway features incredible mid-October color changes. Mabry Mill is a popular attraction.(WDBJ)
Areas in our eastern counties are one of the last places to experience the changes during the fall. However, you can prolong your weekend hikes to see some amazing colors.
Areas in our eastern counties are one of the last places to experience the changes during the fall. However, you can prolong your weekend hikes to see some amazing colors.(WDBJ)
The Blue Ridge Parkway features incredible mid-October color changes. Mabry Mill is a popular attraction.
The Blue Ridge Parkway features incredible mid-October color changes. Mabry Mill is a popular attraction.(WDBJ)
While times vary from place-to-place, here's a look at the estimated peak times for fall foliage in western Virginia.
While times vary from place-to-place, here's a look at the estimated peak times for fall foliage in western Virginia.(WDBJ)

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