Mo. fall color forecast: Best places to see fall foliage

See fall color, like this photo taken in Defiance, using MDC's fall color report.
See fall color, like this photo taken in Defiance, using MDC's fall color report.(Missouri Department of Conservation)
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 3:09 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2021 at 9:10 AM CDT
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MISSOURI (KFVS) - Fall color will soon be on full display in southeast Missouri, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Community Forester Jennifer Behnken said in a release that sassafras, blackgum, flowering dogwood, sugar maple, hickories and oaks are all in the process of showing more colors.

She suggested Highway 21, “especially in the Ironton and Arcadia Valley area for some pretty scenes.”

Other areas include Highways 61, 67, 32, 25, 21, 72 and 49. She said to choose locations along rivers, hillsides and bluffs in forested landscapes.

Some places on her “must see” list include Trail of Tears State Park, Millstream Gardens Conservation Area, Hickory Canyon Natural Area, Johnson Shut Ins State Park, Taum Sauk State Park and Elephant Rocks State Park.

You can use the report to find the best places to see the changing foliage.

“Our fall color report is updated weekly from MDC foresters all over the state,” explained MDC Community Forester Ann Koenig. “Users can see where trees are beginning to turn and get recommendations on great places to view the changing leaves.”

The department said because leaves change color at different times, the fall color season in Missouri may last 4-6 weeks.

Missouri trees begin to change color in the northern part of the state, then move southward.

According to MDC, sassafras, sumac and Virginia creeper are some of the earliest to change, starting in mid-September. By late September, black gum, bittersweet and dogwood turn colors.

The peak of fall color in Missouri is usually around mid-October. The department said this is when maples, ashes, oaks and hickories are at the height of their fall display.

Normally by late October, they said the colors are fading and the leaves beginning to drop from the trees.

Fall color is usually finished by the middle of November.

“As a general rule, the third week in October is a good time to pay attention to fall color in mid-Missouri,” Koenig said. “Colors are usually fading and leaves are falling by the end of the month.”

They said a lot of the color change depends on the weather. Chilly fall nights cause the breakdown of green pigments, allowing fall colors to show through.

The department of conservation said its fall color updates run September through November.

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