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.