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Colors of the season

Oct. 18, 2013 @ 12:15 AM

HUNTINGTON — While fall foliage's splendor is like a slow train coming here in the Ohio River Valley, around the region, and at higher elevations, good color can be found just a daytrip away.

And at higher elevations around the Mountain State and further north in Ohio, peak color and primetime leaf peeping season is on.

Here's a closer look at the best color and some good road-trips.

West Virginia

BEST COLOR: According to the WV Division of Foresty's fall color hotline, fall color is popping out all over the Mountain State and areas with 2,000 to 3,000 feet in elevation are seeing significant change. Areas such as Canaan Valley and Dolly Sods peaked last weekend. Some recommended places for good color include; Coopers Rock State Forest is at 50 percent color with maples and dogwoods providing a lot of that color. A drive from Cheat Lake to the forest is recommended. Other good places to see good color in the state, in southern West Virginia, Hawks Nest State Park and the New River Gorge are on schedule to provide a colorful backdrop for Bridge Day. Some recommended roads include Route 220 south of Franklin in Pendleton County, U.S. 33 in Randolph County and the area around historic Phillipi.

A GOOD ROAD TRIP: Head down for some Major League leaf peeping in the New River Gorge for the 34th annual Bridge Day, it runs 9 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Watch BASE jumpers throw themselves off of America's second highest bridge and walk the festive gauntlet of more than 130 vendors serving up hot, homemade food and much more. Get there Friday for the Taste of Bridge Day at Smokey's on the Gorge, see Bridge Day the best way with a rafting trip on the New River, and check out the eclectic fall fest both on the bridge as well as taking over downtown Fayetteville. Go online at www.officialbridgeday.com/ for more info.

And just south of Beckley, at Ghent, it's the last weekend (Saturday and Sunday) for Winterplace's scenic chairlift rides. Go online at www.winterplace.com for more info.

COLOR FORECAST: Go online at www.wvforestry.com or call 800-225-5982.

Ohio

BEST COLOR: As fall color peaks around the state, Ohio State Parks offer autumn adventures which include Halloween campouts, haunted trails and other family-friendly activities, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

"This will be the best weekend to see fall color in the majority of the state," said Casey Burdick, ODNR's fall color forester. "People that spend the weekend hiking, biking or hunting not only have the opportunity to enjoy our beautiful fall foliage, but many Ohio State Parks are hosting campouts, hayrides, pumpkin carving and costume contests."

Autumn is the perfect time to enjoy numerous activities to do in Ohio State Parks, such as disc golf. Nearly 20 Ohio State Parks have disc golf, and there is no fee to play. For more information on disc golf, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/things-to-do/disc-golf.

A GOOD ROAD TRIP: You can see some good color indoors and out this weekend by heading up Ohio 7 up to U.S. 35, and heading into the woods just five miles north of Jackson, Ohio, where Canter's Cave Lodge, hosts the 32nd annual Foothills Art Festival that runs 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and non to 2 p.m. Sunday with artists from around the region. They've got more than 500 works of art inside in seven categories as well as live music, and then outside, a pre-Revolutionary War encampment by the Sons of Liberty, food vendors and some nearby hiking trails to see the foliage.

Also, over in Harveysburg, Ohio, between Dayton and Cincinnati, it's the last weekend for the super-sized Ohio Renaissance Festival that runs Saturday and Sunday. Call 513-897-7000 or go online at www.renfestival.com for more info.

A little closer to home, Shawnee State Park in Scioto County has a fall hike at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, and up by Athens, Ohio, the 34th Annual Fall Hike takes place at Lake Hope State Park.

COLOR FORECAST: Go online at www.ohiodnr.com and click onto Fall Foliage Report or call 800-BUCKEYE. ODNR also encourages people to take fall color photos and upload them to social media using ODNR's hashtag, #ohiofallcolor2013. Follow @ohiodnr on Twitter and Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Facebook to see more fall color photos.

Kentucky

BEST COLOR: Even though the start of color had us thinking we were ahead of schedule, nature seems to have slowed down a little. We are seeing some nice colors, but looks like peak color will be a little later this month than originally thought, said this week's fall foliage report. Trees that are showing color this week include red maple, dogwoods, hickories, red buds, and black gums.

State naturalist Ron Vanover recommends a ride or hike on the new Dawkins Line Rail Trail. This 18 mile trail begins in Hagerhill, Ky. (Johnson County) and presently ends in Royalton (Magoffin County) with future development to extend another 18 miles to Evanston (Breathitt County). For additional information on biking, horseback riding, or hiking along this trail, visit http://parks.ky.gov/parks/recreationparks/dawkins-line/default.aspx.

And if hiking or biking isn't your thing, another good ideas is to jump on the AA Highway a great place to view spectacular fall beauty. And, there are five state parks in the vicinity, Kincaid Lake, Blue Licks, Carter Caves, Grayson Lake, and Greenbo. Stay at one of these parks and enjoy the fall colors.

A GOOD ROAD TRIP: Just two hours southwest of Huntington, head into the heart of the Red River Gorge, which has more natural bridges or arches than any place east of the Rockies. Visit Natural Bridge State Resort Park on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18-19 for "Natural Bridge by Moonlight" - a one-time event under a full moon. Guests will be able to ride the sky lift and view Natural Bridge at night. Starting each night at 7 p.m., guests can purchase round-trip sky lift tickets, ascend over 400 feet on a 10 minute sky lift ride and walk out to the arch to enjoy the ambiance of a moonlit viewing of the Natural Bridge, Lookout Point, and the valley surrounding the Middle Fork of the Red River. Adults (ages 13 and up) can purchase round-trip tickets for $15 each, and the cost for children (ages 4-12) will be $10 each. Guests should call ahead 800-325-1710 in case of bad weather. For more information, call 1-800-325-1710 or visit www.parks.ky.gov/findparks/resortparks/nb .

COLOR FORECAST: Go online at www.kytourism.com and click onto the ColorFall icon or call 800-225-8747.

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