When travelers think of fall foliage, the New England region may be the first to come to mind. However, the southern states offer a special experience for avid leaf-peers. The unique and varied landscapes of the south – prehistoric mountain ranges and hill country, river valleys, forests, and wetlands - offer options for every traveler’s tastes. Explore these special locations to see fall foliage in the south. Adventurous travelers can ride horses, climb rocks, and drive miles of uninterrupted wilderness all across the South for an unforgettable journey.
10 Talladega Forest In Alabama
Leaf-seeking travelers won’t be disappointed by the beauty that surrounds Talladega Scenic Drive in the height of autumn. This twenty-six-mile route, also known as Alabama Route 281, takes travelers through Talladega Forest and terminates at the Adams Gap Trail Head. This convenient stop makes it easy for adventurous visitors to get out and stretch their legs on the trail after a long and rewarding scenic drive. The Alabama Tourism Association has made an interactive calculator help leaf-watchers figure out the best time to catch fall colors this year.
9 Gorge(ous) Views In Georgia
For views that are a real peach, Georgia will not disappoint. The best place to drive to enjoy these views is Tallulah Gorge State Park. Hikers can enjoy a two-mile trek along the rim of the gorge to take in the fall colors below and all around. Pets are welcome on the rim trails around the gorge, but for safety, it is best to keep the furry friends out of the parts of the gorge. At the apex, the beautiful Tallulah Falls is quite a welcome reward for this scenic hike. It's one of the most beautiful views in Georgia, and when the falls are surrounded by reds, yellows, and oranges, the sight is beyond breathtaking.
8 Zilpo National Forest Scenic Byway In Kentucky
Zilpo Forest National Scenic Byway is a leisurely and beautiful drive all year, but especially in the fall. Beginning at Forest Road 129, the twenty-minute drive along the byway is an excellent end to a weekend of camping and hiking in the Cumberland District. In the evening, after a day of hiking, visitors should take the drive at sunset to enjoy the majesty of autumn light shining through multicolor leaves. The byway concludes at the Zilpo Campground, where visitors can rest for the evening before concluding their trip and driving to onward points in the morning.
7 Horseback In Louisiana
Louisiana only has one National Forest, but it’s well worth the visit in autumn. Kisatchie Forest is alight with fall colors and offers a natural counterpoint to the southern bayou region, which is arguably more famous. The National Park has many unique ways to engage with nature. Travelers looking for something different should plan to explore the Gum Springs Horse Camp and Trails in the Winn Ranger District, which bisects three parishes. Exploring the forest on horseback is a particularly special way to enjoy the fall foliage, as travelers get to share their journey with majestic horse companions.
6 The Historic Natchez Trace Parkway In Mississippi
The Natchez Trace Parkway runs through Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi, or 444 miles. Travelers can join the Parkway in Mississippi to enjoy the magic of autumn in the Magnolia State. The parkway runs along a centuries-old path once used by First Nation communities and early American traders. The Natchez Trace is a perfect option for cyclists, hikers, and nature lovers. There are over a thousand species of plants and dozens of bird species to encounter across the four distinct ecosystems that intersect the route.
5 Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway In South Carolina
Highway 11 in the Upstate Region of South Carolina has something for every fall foliage seeker. For 110 scenic miles, the route snakes through the state, enveloping visitors in fall foliage on every side and at every turn. The highway is dotted with fascinating historical and natural attractions. Raven Cliff Falls is a 2.2 miles hike of moderate difficulty that makes a perfect stop along the route for visitors to immerse in South Carolina’s wild beauty. The hike includes views of a 400-foot waterfall and unbeatable photo opportunities.
4 Scenic Byway 7 In Arkansas
For the lovers of the open road, Arkansas’s Scenic Byway 7 is hard to beat. Add lush fall foliage to the 290-mile route, and traveler’s simply can’t skip this route in autumn. Motorcyclists and road trippers can enjoy a variety of elevations, views, and terrains. The route swishes through the heights of the Ozark Mountains and the valley of the Arkansas River. All along the byway, hidden gems can be found: charming mountain towns and babbling streams peeking through breaks in dense forest, to name just a few. Arrive at the peak of fall colors for amazing views.
3 Rock Climbing Above The Trees In North Carolina
Western North Carolina offers multiple places to enjoy the fall foliage by getting out into nature and breaking a sweat. For one of a kind experience, climbing with Fox Mountain Guides is available in Chimney Rock State Park. High above the painted trees of the forest, visitors can enjoy autumn splendor from a truly special vantage point as they scramble up sun-warmed rock faces. Visitors should be sure to bring the proper gear and to be at an appropriate fitness level to safely enjoy this experience.
2 Drive The Foothills Parkway In Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular in the country. The Foothills Parkway has been in development for three-quarters of a century and is still ongoing. Visitors should check which parts of the drive are open, as construction and maintenance impact road availability from time to time. For now, the southern loop is complete and is one of the best options for seeing fall colors light up the Great Smoky Mountains. The view of the mountains is truly unforgettable in the fall, as the rolling mountains are on fire with every shade between red and yellow. Visitors should not expect to hurry here, as it’s not the Southern way – plus, there’s a lot to see here, and the area is so popular that busy roads can be expected on the peak fall foliage days.
1 Camp And Hike The Apalachicola River Bluffs In Northern Florida
It may not be the first state that comes to mind when travelers think of fall foliage in the US, but Florida has its share of resplendent tree canopies and idyllic hikes. Get off the beaten track in north Florida and head to Torreya State Park to pick up the challenging hiking trails through the bluffs around the Apalachicola River. Visitors can relax at a campsite, rent a cabin or a yurt in the forest. The forest was damaged by Hurricane Michael in 2018 and is still recovering. The state offers a surprising array of camping options. Visitors should check before planning on a campsite to ensure it will be operational.