foliage

foliage

Fall officially begins September 23 and, though it’s a little early to know for sure, foliage should put on quite a show this year. Though it has been dry lately, usually a negative when it comes to fall color, the next few weeks will determine just how much color we will have. We need bright sunny days and cool nights–without too much frost or freezing temperatures–to trap the sugars in the leaves, which give us the best reds and most vibrant colors. However, small pockets of color will remain into November–something to consider when deciding whether to fight the unbelievable crowds in certain areas of the Park. Nature At Its Best – Fall Color Guide To The Smokies Leaves change colors when trees stop producing chlorophyll–the food producing stuff that keeps the leaves green all summer. When the chlorophyll is gone, the other brilliant colors emerge. Elevation plays a key role in determining when the fall spectacle occurs. At the highest elevations–4,500 to 6,000 feet–colors can begin turning in mid-September, when the yellow birch, American beech, and mountain maple begin to turn. During the first two weeks of October, leaves are at their peak colors above 4,000 feet. The remaining weeks of October present the Smokies at their very best for color. The sugar maple, scarlet oak, sweetgum (our favorite), red maple, and dogwood explode with color. Though most people don’t question why the Smokies are so beautiful in the Fall–they just enjoy it–it’s interesting to know that the remarkable variety of trees are responsible for the autumn show. Nearly 100 species of trees–most deciduous–offer up their contribution to...