As fall days continue in the Upstate, our local flora will be changing colors to vivid shades of yellow, orange and brown. With so many deciduous trees around, you’re never too far away from a prime location to spot some fall foliage.
The changing leaves are due to the slow halt of the production of chlorophyll, which causes the green hue in the trees. What you see are the colors that remain without the chlorophyll present.
Right now, leaves are gradually changing, but there is plenty of time to check out the changing leaves across the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The changing leaves are affected by changing elevation. The higher the elevation, the quicker the leaves begin to change — an important note to make for planning your foliage excursion.
State Parks can provide perfect views of the changing leaves
In the Upstate, several state parks allow some great views of the fall leaves. At Jones Gap, you can even get a parking space reservation online. Paris Mountain State Park offers a quick trip from Greenville for prime leaf viewing.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a limited amount of people are allowed into the parks at one time, so planning when to go see the leaves is important.
“Everybody knows that the parks are a great place to go on the weekends, whether they’re wanting to go recreate or to go view the leaves. But my suggestion would be to go either early in the day or later in the day if you wanted to go on the weekends, or just to completely avoid a weekend,” says Adin Fell, regional chief of the mountain region for South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
Which parks does Fell recommend for the best fall foliage views? “I mean, you’ve got you’ve got all kinds of options,” he says.
Fell says the outlook at Caesars Head provides great views, as does Jones Gap. “Table Rock’s always a beautiful park — there’s a lot of lookouts, the hike’s great if you are able and willing,” he adds.
If you’re wanting some lake scenery added to your leafy viewing, Fell says to check out Lake Keowee or Lake Jocassee.
Other area options for fall scenery
Outside of the parks, toward the North Carolina border, travelers can stop by Poinsett Bridge — which is about 200 years old and marks the old path to Asheville — and see the changing leaves surrounding the bridge. Not too far away, Campbell’s Covered Bridge can be found also in the midst of what is sure to be some gorgeous views of fall leaves given the surrounding forest.
A stroll or bike ride along the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail will also allow you to see those yellow, orange and brown hues while not traveling far.
Keep up with foliage forecasts
Early October and late November are when the changing leaves are plentiful in the region. Each year brings different timetables for the fall foliage. In some years, the window of the leaves changing is very short, Fell says, while in other years it’s longer.
Currently, the Upstate has “patchy” foliage, according to SmokyMountains.com. By the end of the month, the leaves should be popping with colors. Last year’s peak for fall colors was in mid-November.
This year seems to be headed toward a long period of leaves changing, and there are some resources to help you decide the best time to check the foliage out.
Check out the Fall Foliage Prediction Map from Smokeymountains.com: https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/
Soon you’ll be able to look at South Carolina State Parks’ own fall foliage report by going to https://southcarolinaparks.com/see-and-do/fall-foliage
Find out more about fall leaves, flowers and more at the U.S. Forest Services website: https://www.fs.usda.gov/visit/fall-colors.