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Leaf Peeking: Southern Style

Fall has arrived here down South—depending on where you live. Along with cooler temperatures and autumn-themed merchandise at every corner, nature follows with beautiful changes in foliage. It’s time to pile on the fall gear and set sights for the photo-ready landscapes of the Southern states, as the leaves change all the way through November. This means scenic walks, tranquil hikes, apple picking and cider sipping, especially as we move into winter.


The first on our list is Sweet Home Alabama. Fall colors will begin blooming in the mountains of North Alabama in early October. Then, colors will peak from late October to early November. It won’t be until December when we’ll see a complete browning of the state and the full winter chill kicks in. If you’re in Alabama during these months, be sure to see the foliage has at Oak Mountain State Park and Bankhead National Park


The Natural State’s peak fall foliage begins in the Ozark Mountains in late September. The rest of the state will blaze with colors throughout October and November, which happens to be the most popular time tourists like to arrive for the season. Be sure to spend time outdoors in this rustic state in places like the Ozark Mountains, Ouachita National Forest, Great River Road and Crowley’s Ridge National Scenic Byway. Get Arkansas’ fall color report here.


Autumn in the Sunshine State really is just that, sunshine. There isn’t too much of a change in the lower part of Florida (a plus for snowbirds), but the Panhandle showcases the changing of the seasons. Leaves will turn in late October to early November, sometimes even lasting all the way to December. Torreya National Park, Three Rivers State Park, Falling Waters National Park and Blackwater River Forest are all great places to see Florida foliage.  


Changes began in September in the North Georgia Mountains, with the rest of the state following by late November. State parks will be filled with burning reds and oranges in October—a beautiful sight for tourists. Amicalola Falls State Park, Anna Ruby Falls and Vogel State Park are popular attractions for leaf peeking. Find ideas for Georgia road trips here.


Louisiana is one of the last states to see a change for fall. Cooler temperatures begin in mid-October which is around the time leaves start to change in the northern part of the state. By the end of November, leaf changes will be at their peak. Consider staying at Lake Claiborne Park or Lake D’Arbornne Park if you want to see what Louisiana has to offer. 


The northern part of the state will reach its peak in early November, while the rest of the state will start to see seasonal changes about two weeks after color appears in the north. For the full foliage experience in Mississippi, try Homochitto National Forest or the Reservoir Overlook. Be sure to look at the Natchez Trace for the ultimate scenic byway experience. Mississippi also has fall festivals, like the Vicksburg Fall Festival, along the trace.  

North Carolina

According to this year’s map, leaf changes were expected in mid-September. But peak foliage won’t occur until mid-October, right as the foothills and Piedmont hit their peak. The coastal part of North Carolina won’t see peak foliage until the first of November. The best way to see these views is to take a trip through this state’s many hiking trails or visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park

South Carolina

Fall colors start to appear in early October. Dogwood and sourwood trees start to turn first, followed by maples, oaks and hickories. In lower elevations, fall foliage begins to appear in late October to early November. Jones Gap State ParkJocassee Gorges and Oconee State Park are all great spots to see the beautiful changes.  


The double-arched Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge in Franklin, Tennessee.

In the Volunteer State, autumn colors display in mid-September. Sourwood, dogwood, sassafras and birch trees are the first to make the change. Albright Grove and Sugarland Mountain Trail are great places to witness the sea of color. Fall colors reach their peak in mid-October to early November. Black gum, dogwood, sumacs and sourwood trees will show bright reds, while golds can be seen on tuliptree, black walnut, birch, beech, spicebush and hickories. Smokemont Loop and Kanati Fork are suggested places for travelers during October and November.  


There’s already so much to see in the Lone Star State and the foliage is no exception! The most opportune time to see foliage in Texas is in early to mid-October. The foliage should hit its peak in early to mid-November. Along with the changes in foliage recognizable to the Southeast, we’re also able to see some changes that appear in the Southwest. Garner State Park, Daingerfield State Park and Lake Bob Sandlin State Park are all wonderful places to see the blazing colors.


It’s a bit harder to pin down when the leaves will start to change in Virginia, but this year we see foliage changes in the west in late September. The colors will hit their peak around mid to late October and the entire state will be entirely colorful by November. Shenandoah National Park and Whitetop Mountain are two spots to get your fill of fall. Get Virginia’s fall foliage report here.

Featured image: Colorblind Viewfinders can be found at 12 Tennessee state parks.

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  • Betty / October 18, 2021

    Excellent!! Great job.

  • Alicia M Wright / October 18, 2021

    Congratulations Xena!!! Auntie Alicia

  • Betty / October 18, 2021

    Excellent!! Great color shots of each state Xena. You are on your way…

  • Regina Hunter / October 18, 2021

    Congratulations Xena! Your pictures are awesome and it warms the heart to see what God has created.💕💕💕I am a friend to your mother.

  • Kimberly Webster / October 18, 2021

    Xena, What an Awesome and well written article! I enjoyed reading about how autumn contributes to each states Beauty and magnificence. You did Well in speaking about GOD’S Hsndy work and how well He created such Beautifum places and spaces in our Country. Keep up the Aweslme work, because I know He is very Gratef UK l to have made such a Beautiful young Lady like yourself. GOD Bless the Mother and Dad who procreate you as well!

  • Jasper Lee / October 19, 2021

    Xena Scott, Author. First, I am very proud of your initiative to be innovative and write about earth’s natural beautiful. Secondly, I expect to read more of your work soon. Lastly, keep up the good work.
    Love ya, Uncle Jake

  • Thaddeus L. Wallace / October 19, 2021

    Wow Zena, What a wonderful read. 👏 Your Creativity is off the charts!


    • Linda Lee Hill / October 23, 2021

      Xena, I enjoyed reading all your research on all the states you choose. I fond it very enlightening and informative. Some of the states you exhibited, I have to admit, I never once thought about. I think, sometimes, we take for granted, that the only state where you live is the only state where the fall foliage is the prettiest and matters. Thank you so very much for bringing to light all the beautiful places to consider thinking about as well as taking a trip to these colorful places to see for yourself!

  • Rita Tibbs / October 20, 2021

    Love this article. Amazing to see the beautiful seasonal colors. Great article Xena.