Peak fall foliage fast approaching in West Virginia

BLUEFIELD — The fall season is here, and the change in weather has been quick, but the leaves appear to be moving a bit slower in change.

The West Virginia Tourism (WV Tourism) website quotes Division of Forestry Direction Tom Cover saying, “Due to the warmer weather West Virginia has experienced this month, fall color is a bit slower moving into the mountains this season. However, fall color is, in fact, beginning to make an appearance in the highest elevations around the state. This once-a year-event won’t last long, so be sure to get out and enjoy it while you can.”

According to the official WV Tourism 2022 Fall Foliage Map, Mercer and McDowell counties are going to see peak color change of the foliage in the mid to late October time frame, while Monroe will be seeing peak color change in mid October.

According to the official state of Virginia website, Tazewell should be starting to see leaves changing much faster as their predictions say they should see peak color in early October.

Bland and Giles counties also both are predicted to see peak color in early October, while Buchanan County will be likely seeing peak color in early to mid October.

According to Visit Mercer County’s fall foliage article, the delay in the color change can be traced back to the weather patterns from the summer and the varying elevations across the county.

They quote chief meteorologist at WVNS-TV Joe Fitzwater saying, “For the full color changing process to take place, you want a good balance of water and sunlight.”

As for elevation, Fitzwater said Mercer County is unique in the fact that it has a few significant differences in elevation.

The examples they give include Black Oak Mountain being on the higher elevation side at 3,300 feet which means that side of the county will see peak color in mid October, while in lower elevations like downtown Princeton sitting at 2,400 feet, it will take another even to 10 days for the leaves to hit their peak color.

As for being able to enjoy the leaves changing and the colors of fall, there are several places in Mercer County that people are able to get up close.

Visit Mercer County’s executive director Jamie Null said, “The higher elevations are going to look spectacular here soon, but there are so many places around the county that people are able to visit to experience the foliage.”

“Our state parks are a good place to start,” she said. “Pinnacle Rock is a great view, but it’s not handicap accessible, which means it may be harder for some people.”

She added, “Camp Creek State Park is a great place to go that is much more accessible because it’s a little lower down and has easier hikes. People are able to slow down there and really look at the beauty of the foliage and the waterfalls.”

Null also mentioned Pipestem and East River Mountain as good places to experience the foliage.

She said she is excited for the color change and what it brings to Mercer County.

“Fall is always so beautiful, I think it’s the best time to be in West Virginia,” she said.

For more information on things to do in the fall season, visit the Visit Mercer County website.

— Contact Kassidy Brown at

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