October 10, 2008

WEST VIRGINIA: ; Leaves at Peak in Several Regions

Fall colors have already reached their peak at several locations in West Virginia's northeastern mountains, the state Division of Forestry announced Thursday.

Among areas now at 100 percent of their seasonal color potential are the Allegheny Front in Mineral County, the Mount Storm area in Grant County, and Spruce Knob, the state's highest peak, in Pendleton County.

Leaves in the Davis and Canaan Valley areas of Tucker County are at 90 percent to 100 percent of peak color, while foliage throughout the rest of the state ranges from 30 percent to 80 percent of peak. Areas of higher elevation continue to show the most fall color.

State foresters say sugar maple, elm and poplar trees are showing the most vibrant colors, while dogwoods, Virginia creeper and sumac are adding their deep red hues to the fall landscape, too. Oaks are slow to change and mostly remain green.

"U.S. 219 from Lewisburg to Droop Mountain not only has great year-round views, but now also has great fall color," said regional forester Tom Cover. "The higher elevations of Greenbrier County are at 80 percent peak, while the lower elevations are about 65 percent."

Cover said trees in sections of Randolph County above 3,500 feet in elevation are nearing their peak, while the rest of the county is at about 70 percent peak.

For prime leaf viewing, Cover recommended a drive along U.S. 250 to the top of Cheat Mountain and a stop at Gaudineer Knob Scenic Area.

Other foresters recommend the Nicholas County portion of U.S. 19, now at 70 percent peak color; U.S. 60 from Ansted to Rainelle, where foliage is at 65 percent peak; and Interstate 79 through Braxton and Clay counties, now at 55 percent peak.

"West Virginia is the third-most forested state in the country, with nearly 12 million acres of land covered with trees," said State Forester Randy Dye. "Our landscape is perfect for those wishing to view the changing leaves."

More information on fall foliage, including a tree species fall coloration guide and an explanation of why leaves change colors, is available at the Division of Forestry's Web site, at www.wvforestry.com.

- From staff reports

(c) 2008 Charleston Gazette, The. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.