Fall Colors

Bright reds and oranges as the trees change on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The Old Trace Drive, at milepost 375.8 is a great place to see fall colors in mid to late October. 

NPS Image

Why do Leaves Change Colors?

In middle to late October, the maple, hickory, oak and other hardwood trees begin to change colors and visitors have the opportunity to view the brilliant fall foliage along the Natchez Trace Parkway. Each fall, as sunlight decreases, it signals the plant to stop producing chlorophyll. The best conditions to create fall color are when the autumn days are mild and sunny, and the evenings are cool and crisp, but not freezing. Ideal foliage is sparked by a warm, wet spring, a typical summer, and sunny autumn days with cool nights. While it is impossible to predict the peak time to see colors along the Natchez Trace Parkway, the following locations and reports may help you plan your trip.

Locations to Enjoy the Fall Color in Tennessee:

  • The Old Trace Drive (milepost 375.8) provides spectacular overlooks of a hardwood forest.
  • Metal Ford (milepost 382.8) and Swan View Overlook (milepost 392.5) provide quick stops to view the fall colors.
  • Leisurely walks at Meriwether Lewis (milepost 385.9) or Fall Hollow (milepost 391.9) are great locations to enjoy the colors.
  • Those interested in seeing the colors more closely may find a day hike along the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail from the Garrison Creek Trailhead (milepost 427.6), or the Old Trace Trailhead (milepost 426.3) a rewarding experience.

Locations to Enjoy the Fall Color in Alabama and Mississippi:

  • The Freedom Hills Overlook (milepost 317.0) provides a spectacular overlook of a hardwood forest.
  • A short leisurely walk on the Rock Spring Nature Trail is an easy way to get out and see the colors more closely.
  • The view from Little Mountain Overlook in the Jeff Busby Campground (milepost 193.1), provides a wonderful quick stop to view the fall colors.
  • Those interested in seeing the colors more closely may find a day hike along the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail from the Old Town Overlook Trailhead (milepost 263.9), or the Beech Springs Trailhead (milepost 266.0) a rewarding experience.
 

Color Report for November 6, 2015

The fall colors are past their peak at the northern end of the Parkway in Alabama and Tennessee, but you still have the opportunity to see a few shades of fall from milepost 304.5 north.

South of Tupelo, MS (milepost 266) to north of Jackson, MS (milepost 100) color quality and intensity vary greatly. There is a possibility that colors could reach peak in about one week. The storms that have blown through the area the last week and one half have had a negative impact on the leaves and many trees have lost a large of amount of leaves before significant color change took place.

Colors are just starting to show from Natchez, MS (milepost 1) to Jackson, MS (milepost 100), with colors ranging from 5% to 40% depending on location.

Almost anywhere you drive along the Parkway this weekend you should be rewarded with some color. Please remember that fall colors can change rapidly, and leaf color can vary widely along the 444 mile length of the Natchez Trace Parkway.


Color Report for October 21, 2015
The fall colors are approaching peak fall foliage from the Meriwether Lewis site (milepost 385.9) north with colors at about 50% to 60% of their peak color. The bright oranges and vibrant yellows of the sweet gum are dotting the landscape. From Colbert Ferry (milepost 327.3) north into Tennessee trees are about 40% of their full color.

This weekend will be near peak fall foliage conditions from Tennessee/Alabama state line north. Rain showers are predicted Saturday and Sunday. Depending on the strength of the rain storms it could have a negative impact on fall foliage for the rest of the season.

Please remember that colors can change rapidly, and leaf color will vary widely along the 444-mile length of the Natchez Trace Parkway

Color Report for October 15, 2015
The fall colors are showing from the Meriwether Lewis site (milepost 385.9) north with colors at about 35% to 45% of their peak color. From Colbert Ferry (milepost 327.3) north into Tennessee trees are about 30% of their full color.

Please remember that colors can change rapidly, and leaf color will vary widely along the 444-mile length of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Color Report for October 8, 2015
The dogwoods and other trees are just beginning to change along the Parkway in Tennessee. From Meriwether Lewis (milepost 385.9) north to the terminus, colors are at about 10-20 % of their peak. Please remember that fall colors can change rapidly, and leaf color will vary widely along the 444-mile length of the Parkway.

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