Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall in Love With Fall again in Virginia

After hearing that I went to the mountians last weekend for LNT training, no one asks about the training. At least, not at first. FIRST they ask if the leaves have started changing color there yet. Yes, it must be the onset of fall in Virginia, when we all crane our necks from car windows waiting to see that first hint of yellow in the trees. We find ourselves scouring the internet for things to do outside to enjoy the FINALLY cooler, less humid weather. As an east coast girl, fall has always been the ultimate season for enjoying the great outdoors and the full beauty of nature.

Fall just beginning at Shenandoah National Park, Oct 2, 2010

So in response to the many questions, yes, there was a little bit of color starting to show in the leaves, but just a hint was mixed in with the regular vibrant greens. Actually, there was already a great deal of brown dead-looking trees there too though. the Shenandoah Mountians have always struggled with having a completely healthy tree canopy, so it could be those trees were just standing dead anyway, or it could be that they had been so stressed by this summer's heat and dry weather that they went and dropped their leaves rather than put on the display we wait so anxiously to see. According to some 'foliage experts' (like this Penn State one), the color potential for fall 2010 is lower than normal due to the intense summer temps and drought. Obviously there will still be some beautiful colors to see as we progress further into the fall season, but from the looks of things it won't be a banner year for fall colors this time.

But Virginia will always be an excellent place to visit in the fall no matter what the foliage forecast is for the year. So for those neck-craners who are tired of boring green and getting antsy to see some really vibrant yellows, oranges and reds dotting the landscape, I have a couple website recommendations for you to bookmark. The first is a site I hope you already know about if you live in or plan to visit Virginia. It is the Virginia Tourism site at, but did you know they have a special section of pages dedicated just to fall foliage, travel and crisp outdoor adventures? Everything from apple picking places to best scenic autumn drives to wine tastings to quick camping get aways. Its a great place to start planning your weekend fall celebration.

Fall near Quantico, VA, October 2009

My second suggestion of sites on fall tree viewing is a little less flashy than the Virginia is for Lovers tourism site, but has some different and just as interesting information. The Virginia Department of Forestry at has a page dedicated to fall foliage in the Commonwealth. Here they post a weekly foliage report (still mostly green at this writing) and information about expected peak color dates, which trees turn which colors, more fall driving tours and information on why the leaves change color (its okay, we know you've forgotten that middle school biology lesson so go ahead and look). If you are hoping to be out to catch the leaves at their best, the DOF site is a good place to check the reports and find out if your planning calendar is on target!

Fall hike with the Tiger Cubs, Nov. 2009

So go with me now to that buried box in the closet, take out your comfy-coziest fall colored sweater, shake out the wrinkles and the moth balls and put it on as you head out the door on your autumn adventure. Plan a trip to the mountains and forests of Virginia and fall in love with fall all over again this year. Even if the trees don't put on quite the show that we've come to love and expect, you'll be sure to enjoy the outstanding fall air and your favorite sweater will show the trees that they have competition to aspire to beat for next year's display. Fall will always be my favorite season. Post a picture of your autumn escapades and send me the link, I'd love to see you and the trees at your fall finest!

Horseback riding, one of our family's common fall activities, Nov 2009

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