The Smokey Mountains 2022 Fall Foliage Prediction map shows Kentucky should see its peak in autumn colors on Oct. 31 this year, but the colors will be enjoyable as early as Oct. 3. You can test out the map here.
Be sure to check the weather forecast and map as you plan your seasonal activities.
“Another important part of leaf-peeping is knowing the right time to go!” according to the Almanac. “For the best experience, not only should leaves be near their peak colors, but the weather should be agreeable, too.”
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The forest swallows major portions of eastern Kentucky, a total of 21 Kentucky counties. From north of Morehead to south of Whitley City.
Kentucky Tourism’s Insider Guide to the Daniel Boone National Forest says, “Considering the sheer size of the forest, you’d be hard pressed to have the same experience each time you go. Every visit is a new adventure, no matter your outdoor recreation preference.”
The Cumberland Falls State Park is a park nestled in the London district of the Daniel Boone National Forest with waterfall viewing, hiking, and is one of the few places to see a moonbow in North America.
“Cumberland Falls is one of the few places in the world that regularly produces a moonbow. The “moonbow,” also called a white rainbow or lunar rainbow, is formed just like a rainbow — light is refracted in tiny water droplets — and appears for the two or so days, as long as the sky is clear, on either end of the full moon,” reads the Kentucky Parks website.
Red River Gorge is home to beech, sugar maples, white pines, hemlock, oaks, and hickory trees that paint the Daniel Boone National Forest year-round, and the naturally formed lookout points like Chimney Top Rock and Natural Bridge will provide great views of the fall foliage.
Drive the Bluegrass
The Zilpo National Forest Scenic Byway is an 11-mile road that allows for easy viewing of the hardwood forests of the Cumberland District in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
The Forest Service website says the road takes about 20 minutes to drive.
Starting in the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Middlesboro the historic route travels north to Berea. The route passes through Renfro Valley, Kentucky’s capitol for country music and the home of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.
Lexington is home to many quiet and beautiful locations for viewing fall foliage on foot or in a car.
The nature sanctuary is just outside of Lexington with protected streams, meadows, and woodlands.
A cemetery might not be the obvious choice, but the cemetery has been nationally recognized for its beauty and the smooth walking areas are great for everybody.
Located in Stearns the Big South Fork Scenic Railway offers just the ride on its own, or you can make it a date and add lunch to your ticket also. The railway is a piece of history.
“The Kentucky & Tennessee Railway once stretched over 25 miles into the Big South Fork River valley and operated 12 steam locomotives. It served as the primary passage not only for timber and coal, but also for workers and supplies going to camps along its line,” reads the Big South Fork Scenic Railway website.
Tickets for the railway can be bought here.
Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum
The Bluegrass Scenic Railroad and Museum is another option for enjoying the fall colors. Located in Versailles, the train offers a few themed rail tours depending on the time of the year, including a pumpkin patch train and a Thanksgiving train.
Frankfort, the Kentucky Capitol Building
Why not get a look at Kentucky’s Capitol Building while hunting for seasonal views? Frankfort is the home to multiple fall festivals that happen during Kentucky’s peak fall foliage season.
A full calendar including a Murder Mystery Weekend and Halloween at the Grand can be seen here.
The Lake Cumberland State Resort Park offers hiking with views of Lake Cumberland, as well as a fish hatchery, education center, and a restaurant.
Located in western Kentucky The Land Between the Lakes offers around 170,000 acres of land, and 500 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and riding.
The area offers an Elk and Bison Prairie reserve. The grassland habitat was once common in Kentucky and gives the elk and bison a 700-acre enclosure to roam free in.
The Kentucky Lake has the largest surface area east of the Mississippi River and offers tons of water activities in the warm months, but also plenty of shorelines to walk along and enjoy the views of during the autumn season.