Photo (Above): The Virginia Creeper Trail, courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation
Virginia’s expansive woodlands, famously blue-tinged mountains, and rambling scenic byways are the place to be when colorful autumn leaves are at their fiery peak. Seek out some fall color in the state’s wild spaces, and cherish the seasonal transition at these stunning Virginia locations.
Grayson Highlands State Park
Photo courtesy of Virginia State Parks
Grayson Highlands State Park
One of Virginia’s most unique places, the highland meadows, dense forests, and panoramic summits of Grayson Highlands State Park are still the domain of roaming bands of wild ponies. The park also straddles the massive Mount Rogers National Recreation Area – offering color-seeking autumn visitors sweeping views of some of the largest undisturbed wild spaces in the state. For a short hike with endless Blue Ridge vistas, trek the mile-long Rhododendron Trail—you are also likely to be sharing the path with the park’s famous hoofed residents.
Ponies graze at Grayson Highlands State Park
Photo by Bob Diller
Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
One of the most spectacular corners of Virginia, the 200,000-acre Mount Rogers National Recreation Area is spread over a picturesque, high-elevation pocket of Southwest Virginia, sprinkled with alpine meadows, vast tracts of mixed hardwood forest, and the famed “bald” peaks of Appalachia. Drive the Mount Rogers Scenic Byway, or take a day hike on the Appalachian Trail, which boasts views of the two highest peaks in Virginia—the 5,729-foot Mount Rogers and the 5,518-foot Whitetop Mountain. The Mount Rogers NRA is also home to the famous Virginia Creeper Trail, which begins in Abingdon, VA.
Hidden Valley Lake
The rapidly changing fall foliage looks perhaps even more stunning in the glassy surface of the 60-acre Hidden Valley Lake, which is snuggled into the crown of Brumley Mountain, just outside the town of Abingdon, Virginia. Admire the vibrant seasonal transition on foot, hiking the wilderness management area’s network of trails, or set out from the boat launch along the northern part of the lake. If you are so inclined, the high-elevation lake is also popular with anglers in pursuit of smallmouth bass and northern pike.
Shenandoah National Park
Photo by Kevin Kelley
The Great Channels
Spreading into Washington and Russell counties, 4,836-acre Channels Natural Area Preserve is one of Virginia’s best kept secrets—and a most exceptional natural space. In the fall, visitors can admire not only the fiery reds and burnt oranges of the protected area’s mixed hardwood forests but also can hike to the namesake channels. The 400-million-year-old sandstone formations are nestled into the southern slope of Clinch Mountain, near the summit of Middle Knob.
The Great Channels Natural Area Preserve
Photo Courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation
Shenandoah State Park
Virginia’s 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park is always a sure thing for fall color. The park’s primary artery—the 105-mile Skyline Drive—is one of the most breathtaking roadways in the state, meandering past a staggering 75 scenic overlooks. However, some of Shenandoah’s best viewpoints can only be reached by foot via the park’s nearly 500 miles of trails.
Visit VisitAbingdonVirginia.com for more ideas on how to enjoy fall color in the mountains!