20 October 2010

Top National Parks for viewing fall foliage revealed

It’s mid-October which means apples, pumpkin pies, the smell of wood stoves and, of course, beautiful colors everywhere you look outside. In my humble opinion nothing is quite as good as a brisk, October hike.

However, sometimes it can be difficult to find an ideal hiking location near you. If you’ve ever wondered where the best places to take a fall hike are, or even if you haven’t, you’ll probably be happy to know that the National Park Foundation has announced its 2010 list of “Top National Parks for Fall Foliage.” Here are a few of the parks included on this year’s list.

First up is the Blue Ridge Parkway. The best time for fall foliage along the Blue Ridge Parkway is right around now, mid to late October. The leaves along the parkway begin changing at the highest altitudes and move towards the lowest. The Blue Ridge offers an interesting view of the fall colors as it includes slopes facing both east and west, as well as a range of elevations, the lowest at the James River in Virginia and the highest south of Mt. Pisgah in North Carolina. In order to really enjoy the Blue Ridge during the fall it is advised to spend a few days driving along the Parkway to view the fall colors at varying elevations.

The National Park Foundation also recognizes the Fire Island National Seashore, located one hour east of New York City. Fire Island offers visitors a unique combination of nature and maritime history. Two historical landmarks that the island has to offer are the Fire Island lighthouse, completed in 1858, as well as the William Floyd Estate, the home of Revolutionary War general and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Fire Island also offers a wide array of hiking and nature and for these activities, fall is the recommended season to visit. Around mid to late October, the leaves will begin to change and the poison ivy on the island will start to turn red. It is also a good time to watch the annual migration of birds and monarch butterflies from Fire Island.

Next on the list is the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve located in Louisiana. The park offers six different sites all offering something different, whether it be history, local culture, or Louisiana wetlands. The park offers a number of different activities and exhibits on any given day. The park aims to share the area’s beauty as well as its cultural history. The preserve is also a great place to view the fall swamp maples and wildflowers changing color. Peak colors are expected through November.

The Minute Man National Historical Park is located in the towns of Concord, Lexington and Lincoln, Massachusetts and provides visitors with an array of information on the very first battles of the American Revolution. The park has preserved and recreated a number of sites and landscapes from this important event in history. The park offers guided tours through historical landmarks and areas including the Hartwell Tavern, a period home, Concord’s North Bridge, the site of the “shot heard round the world” and the Battle road trail, a five mile trail where history and nature combine. Of course, you can explore all the park has to offer on your own as well. One unique way to experience the park is with a bike tour of Battle Road offered by Concord bike tours. The Minute Man is a great way to experience the history that Massachusetts has to offer and the beauty of a New England autumn all at once. Peak colors are expected through the end of October.

To view the entire list of parks recognized by the National Park Foundation, follow this link.

Now you have no excuses. Go enjoy autumn before the snow starts to fly!

Angela Goldberg
Angela is a recent graduate of Ithaca College where she studied writing and anthropology. You can also find Angela at Angela Rae Photography.

Photo credit: Angela