Leaf turning time in Middle Tennessee triggers holiday-like festivities. The panoramic beauty of fall foliage fascinates both locals and out-of-towners. The most spectacular colors this side of heaven are on display for leaf peepers pleasure. From flaming-red maples and crimson sumac to red sweet gums and golden hickories, incredible colors blanket Tennessee hills, highways and byways.
While you may prefer driving to view the lovely leaves, alternate vehicles such as bicycles, helicopters, boats, hot air balloons and trains are available. Hiking and horse trails and are located in state parks.
Piggy-backing leaf peeping with fun activities is trending now. We’ve compiled Nashvillian’s pet places to go and fun things to do between mid-October and late November when fall foliage peaks.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a favorite haunt of locals. Stretching 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville are more than 100 types of trees decked out in dazzling colors. Points of interest include:
- Watch for milepost 375.8, the Old Trace Drive where you’ll enjoy magnificent overlooks of a hardwood forest.
- Milepost 382.8, Metal Ford and milepost 392.5, Swanview Overlook have places to pull over and admire multihued leaves.
- Get out of the car and take a stroll at milepost 385.9, Meriwether Lewis or Fall Hollow, milepost 391.9.
Natchez Trace Parkway is a scenic route, which does not permit commercial traffic. Devoid of stoplights or stop signs, the Parkway is a cyclists dream. You can bike amidst beauty, birds and leaves dancing in the breeze.
Fall Creek Falls State Park celebrates “Fall Colors Weekend” on October 18-19. It’s the spot for reconnecting with Tennessee nature. Not only is Leaf Peeping Season in its prime, there are photo-ops galore. Millikan’s Overlook is a don’t-miss for photography buffs. Hike up Buzzard’s Roost to see the lone Virginia Pine and surrounding views of the wooded canyon.
How about a zip lining adrenaline rush? As multicolored tree tops go whizzing by, you’ll marvel at the variety of shapes and hues as you “fly” through the air.
Radnor Lake State Park is for those who prefer roads less traveled. Here, you’ll find peace and serenity, which locals dub closest to the heart of nature you can possibly get. Walk the hiking trails for a taste of true wilderness and striking fall foliage, against the backdrop of Radnor Lake.
Cheekwood is situated on 55 peaceful acres in Belle Meade. Meander among 5,000 richly-colored Chrysanthemums and awesome fall-hued trees. Beware of scarecrows on exhibit, but sort of hidden!
The Fontanel Mansion, previously owned by Barbara Mandrell, nestles in the Whites Creek Valley, amongst rolling hills. You’ll have a panoramic view of the forest that boasts a potpourri of autumn leaves. The Nashville Scene recently designated The Woods at Fontanel “best outdoor amphitheater in Nashville”.
Old Hickory Lake features the fall foliage cruise by Wanderin’ Star Yacht Charters. This is an interactive experience where you’ll get to hoist that sail and even sail the Catalina 25.
The General Jackson Showboat cruises up and down the Cumberland River. Make your way to the top deck where you can bask in vibrant colors of trees flanking the river. Do the Midday cruise for optimal daylight. In addition, you’ll enjoy a lovely lunch and country show.
Get on-board the Tennessee Central Railway’s Fall Foliage Trip for a panoramic view of autumn leaves at their gracious best. Call early to reserve a coveted seat in the glass-enclosed dome.
Get a birds-eye view from a hot air balloon. Watch while treetops create a giant red-orange-yellow rainbow. Guys, if you’re ready to pop the question, you won’t find a more unique and romantic setting!
Enjoy your color-full journey!