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Fall Foliage Beginning To Peak Around the Area

Photos by Scott McCloskey For those looking to enjoy the brilliant Autumn colors this year, they may want to take that drive along their favorite country road or to their favorite park as the foliage is beginning to peak around many areas of the Upper Ohio Valley. A motorist is pictured driving in the midst of colorful trees on a back road near Wheeling Park this week.

WHEELING — For area residents looking to enjoy the brilliant colors of the Autumn season, they might want to take that drive to their favorite park this weekend, as the foliage is beginning to peak a little earlier than normal for this region, according to Karen Cox, West Virginia University Extension Agent for Ohio County.

“The peak time is really indicated by the weather conditions,” Cox said. “Because we had that snap of really cool weather, almost cold weather, after the dry summer, it really kicked the leaf color into gear — and so our leaves are changing a lot earlier this year. … The drier summer really made an impact,” she added.

Cox said while the local area seems to be entering that peak time of the year for the most picturesque foliage, many of the higher elevations around the state of West Virginia may have already peaked.

“The higher elevations are going to peak a little faster … because it’s going to be cooler in the higher elevations sooner,” Cox said. She said the cooler temperatures are what really triggers the trees to “start pulling back the chlorophyll” which exposes the other chemicals and that changes the color of the leaves.

Cox said maple trees are well known in this region for their flamboyant colors.

“Red maples are especially a brilliant flame red. That’s how they got their name … and sugar maples have a beautiful yellow leaf,” she added.

“Typically for the best color, you want a really good early growing season and then a drier late summer,” Cox commented. In addition, heavy wind and rain will knock the leaves off sooner than normal when the leaves begin to change color.

“So if you want to go through the state and do some leaf peeping, now is definitely a great time to do it. Any place that has a lot of trees — Cooper Rock, Tygart Lake State Park, Blennerhassett Island State Park, Harpers Ferry … there are definitely some beautiful places to do some leaf peeping,” Cox said. “And even locally — Oglebay, Grand Vue, or also just going on the rail trails is a great opportunity to get out there and see some of the beautiful fall colors,” she added.

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