ETSU arborist: Peak fall color is here in some places

Published 10:13 am Thursday, October 19, 2023

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Across the region’s lower elevations, the parade of red, yellow and orange is likely to peak around Halloween, beginning the weekend of October 28 and stretching through the first week or so of November. 

“The sustained cooler temperatures have definitely kicked off the changing colors,” said Travis Watson, East Tennessee State University’s campus arborist.  

Beautiful colors are popping across the mountains of East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia.  

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Go see them while you can.  

“The region’s highest elevations are currently at or past peak and the progression down in elevation is well underway,” he said.  

Weather conditions throughout 2023 paved the way for vivid hues. 

In the Appalachian Highlands, a wet spring slightly delayed color. An unusually dry fall, especially in September, mixed with sunny days and cool nights to kickstart the change. And although forecasters predicted an above-average hurricane season, storms didn’t have a major impact on the area. In years past, remnants of hurricanes and tropical storms triggered severe weather in the area, stripping leaves off trees. 

The Appalachian Highlands are home to an immense diversity of trees, with over 100 species of deciduous hardwoods, that generate a broad color palette. That diversity often means a bit longer of a display than in the maple-dominated forests of the Northeast.  

Make plans to take in the magic of autumn soon. 

“Especially if you want to visit the higher elevations, do it soon,” said Watson. 

This marks the final fall color report of the season from ETSU.