Leaves at Glenwood

The leaves changing at Glenwood Park are reflected in the lake in this file photo.

BRAMWELL — Leaves on local trees are starting to turn scarlet and gold, heralding the start of fall foliage season and one of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails busiest months of the year.

The West Virginia Tourism Office recently released an annual autumn forecast that helps travelers enjoy the peak of leaf season. Prepared with help from the West Virginia Division of Forestry, it’s the first in a series of fall foliage updates the state Tourism Office plans to release this season.

Reports will include the percentage of color change across the state and suggested travel routes through peak areas.

“Fall color is starting to make its way across the Mountain State, and a leaf peeping road trip is a great socially- distanced activity for all this season,” said Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby. “Thanks to our partnership with the Division of Forestry, we’ll be sharing weekly fall color updates, as well as a featured road trip each week for those looking to get out and explore their own backyard in a safe and responsible way.”

Tourists driving through West Virginia come to enjoy the fall foliage, but many of them will park their vehicles and climb onto ATVs when they reach the southern end of the state and the Hatfield-McCoy Trail.

“Oh, yes. October is our second-busiest time,” said Jeffrey Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Recreational Authority, adding that April tended to be the trail’s busiest month.

“It’s a huge time for us,” Lusk said of October. “Usually around the time the cool weather and the foliage arrive, that’s what drives ridership. I was talking to one of our lodging providers today. She was completely booked for the weekends in October; here we are in the first weekend in October and she is completely booked out already.”

Visitors look forward to fall so much that they make reservations in advance, said Jamie Null, executive director of the Mercer County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“West Virginia has a wonderful tradition for great fall foliage,” Null said. “People book those opportunities to ride during the peak season.”

Null said that southern West Virginia’s peak foliage usually appears near the end of October, so there are still good opportunities to book lodging in time for an ATV holiday.

“We’re usually the last (region) in the state to change,” Null said of the fall colors. “It starts up north and works its way down.”

People who want an ATV trip during fall foliage season can improve their chances by reserving their lodging a year in advance.

“Those weeks usually go fast if somebody is looking to ride in the fall,” Null added. “If they book for fall 2021, that way they are guaranteed a spot.”

For more information about West Virginia and planning a trip, visit WVtourism.com.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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