Fall Foliage 2021 Preview

Last updated: October 1, 2021

Every year, we patiently wait for the leaves to begin making their transition from summery greens to the familiar autumn hues. And since foliage varies each year depending on the weather, we’ve tried to nail down an accurate fall forecast with the help of our local meteorologist. So, get ready to view Mercer County landscapes in all of their autumnal glory this October! 

According to Collin Rogers, a meteorologist at WVVA-TV, the peak color for the Mercer County area this year will be mid to late October. Peak color times are highly dependent on elevation and summer weather patterns. 

“The further north in the county that you go, especially higher elevations, the peak vibrancy will be closer to the middle of October,” Rogers said. “But the lower elevations and the area’s further south are looking at late October this year.” 

For example, Pipestem Resort State Park (2,690 feet) and Camp Creek State Park (2,037 feet) are both located in the northern area of the county, but the higher elevations of Pipestem will cause the leaves to change a little earlier in the month. Areas in the southern region of the county that are higher in elevation, like Pinnacle Rock State Park (2,745 feet) and East Mountain Overlook (3,500 feet) will also be seeing some bright foliage near the middle of October. 

In addition to elevation, fall foliage also depends on weather conditions. The leaf vibrancy is strongly reliant on summer and early fall temperatures. 

“Over the summer you want your temperatures and precipitation around average, but unfortunately what we saw in Mercer County was a lot dryer, as much of the region experienced a drought this summer,” Rogers said.

The good news for eager leaf peepers is that fall weather also affects the vibrancy of the leaves and Mercer County is currently experiencing the best weather patterns for beautiful autumn hues! 

“On fall days, we are looking for sunny days and really cool nights which will increase the vibrancy of the fall colors,” Rogers said. “Mercer County has recently experienced temperatures in the 30s and 40s at night which are below average and will help bring a better chance of seeing some vibrant fall colors in the coming weeks.” 

Besides weather patterns and area elevations, there is actually more than meets the eye with the iconic fall transition. 

The green color in leaves comes from chlorophyll, a chemical that allows plants and trees to transform sunlight into energy. During the spring and summer months, chlorophyll is very active, overpowering the other leaf colors like yellow, orange, red and purple. When the daylight hours begin to shorten in the fall, the sun’s rays become less direct which causes the leaves to start breaking down the chlorophyll and exposing the other colors. 

Head out on one of our favorite fall hikes this month and observe this scientific process in motion. Discover unparalleled views of Mercer County landscapes and tag us on Instagram (@visitmercerwv) so we can keep track of the transitioning colors this season.

Make sure you plan your trip accordingly because peak autumn color only lasts about two weeks! 

Check out the WVVA Weather Team to keep track of Mercer County’s weather forecast for any upcoming trips.