Fall Colors

A red and yellow palmately veined leaf.
Click on the magic dogwood leaf to reveal the progress of leaf changes across the country.

NPS / Jane Farmer

Tell Me about the Fall Colors

"Can you gaze into your crystal ball and tell me when leaf colors will be happening on the Natchez Trace Parkway?" a park visitor asked.

The ranger rubbed her temples. "Perhaps it would be better to check the web," the ranger replied.

"What web page could I visit?"

"Click on the Magic Dogwood Leaf to be transported to a web page that will reveal the progression of fall color change all over the country."

Click on dogwood leaf to see color progress across the country.


Fall Color Reports 2022

The leaves in the north are starting to change. There are pops of color scattered along the Parkway. Less than 5% of the trees have peak color. 

In Tennessee, we're starting to see more leaves changing colors. About 50% of trees are starting to change near Meriwether Lewis. Near the Parkway Visitor Center in Tupelo, about 10-15% of trees are at peak color. Fall colors are starting to show from Tupelo to Witch Dance. Less than 10% of trees from Witch Dance to MP 200 have started to change. It is green the rest of the way except for a slight change in a small area between Jackson and Clinton.

The Parkway trees didn't get the message that next week is supposed to be warm. This week's icebox weather convinced many trees that we are at the cusp of winter. 

North end of the Parkway: The leaves are likely past peak. The oaks haven't changed yet, but because of the cold and dry weather, their leaves may just turn brown and drop off. The wind has thinned what color there is. If you are going to go leaf peeping in the north, do it now!

Central Parkway: The leaves are 40ish% changed. The sustained cold weather and morning frosts will encourage many trees to change quickly and then go dormant. Those that endure the cold will hang on and color up during the warm spell next week.

Ridgeland and south: About 10% of the leaves have changed in the Jackson, MS area. It has frosted a couple of times this week, so that may hurry things up or make the leaves drop. We can tell you more next week!

Whoot, Whoot! The north end of the Parkway is BIG orange and red! Check out the spectacular photos on our Facebook page.  The leaves are at 100%. 

Central: The rain this week will help the trees hold on to their leaves and hopefully they will be a bit more showy next week. The color change is hovering around 50%. This is a late year for changes.

South: Starting to color up, but the hickory yellows, and rusty oaks are yet to be seen. The leaves are at about 20-30 % changed, depending where you are. 

Northern end of the Parkway: Colors have been great, but the leaves are thining out. If you haven't seen them yet, this is the time. 

Central part of the Parkway: Some trees are acting like they want to hold on to their greenery all year long. Others have shed all they have to shed. This is a long color season that has come in small waves. The air is full of leaves floating to the ground. 

Southern end of the Parkway:  Yellows are popping out on about 30% of the trees, others have put on their rusty colored cloaks. The leaves are dropping. 

This fall color season is a bit out of the ordinary. It has been affected by early frost, drought, then extra warm weather. 

North: The trees are well past peak. Some trees are still showing nice color, but many have dropped their leaves. 

Central: Many oaks are stubbornly holding on to their greenery. Maples are done, and many other species have dropped all their leaves.

South: There is a mix of still green, turning yellow, and dropped their leaves already. 

North: Everything is about over at the north end of the Parkway.
Central: How many times can we say this is a weird year? The healthy oaks are hanging on and their leaves look like they are toasty green. Some trees have shut down for the winter. Is it colorful? Honestly, not really. 
South: Still waiting for winter. Some trees are done, some are yellow, and some are waiting for...WHAT ARE THEY WAITING FOR??? It's mid November! 
Please note: There is a lot of cool stuff to see on the Parkway, even if it isn't pretty leaves. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Watch for turkeys along the Parkway. Please only shoot them with your camera! 

North: Almost all the leaves have dropped to the ground. They will be the nutrition for next year's growth. 

Central: The oak trees are stubbornly holding on to their greenery, although some are yellowing. I don't think they know it's the end of November. Most of the other trees are done, with a maple or two trying to hang on as long as the oaks. 

South: Yep...it's a slow change down there too. Some yellow and a bunch of green...

The question of the year that is stumping us all is: when will the tree finish their season?

Central District (Approximately from Alabama state line to Jackson): Most of the trees now show the strong arches of leafless branches, but the oaks are finally changing into their lusttrous metallic colors. Driving the Parkway in this area, you will see the trees resembling patinaed copper, dusty brass, burnished bronze, rusty iron and brilliant gold.  

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

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.
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    Last updated: November 28, 2022

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    2680 Natchez Trace Parkway
    Tupelo, MS 38804


    800 305-7417
    The Parkway Visitor Center near Tupelo, MS, is open 9am-4:30pm seven days a week. The visitor center is closed Thanksgiving, December 25th and January 1st.

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