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Falling in place

Robert Hudson Westover
Office of Communication

Caption: Chuck Leavell has become a nationally recognized expert in sustainable forestry and environmental protection and is an honorary Forest Ranger with the USDA Forest Service.
Caption: Chuck Leavell has become a nationally recognized expert in sustainable forestry and environmental protection and is an honorary Forest Ranger with the USDA Forest Service. (Photo courtesy of Chuck Leavell.)

Fall is the favorite season of many a poet, song writer, visual artist or just you and me. The quaking gold aspen sprouting from the giant Pando on Utah’s Fishlake National Forest inspire the imagination. The purple wildflowers of the Sierra National Forest in California entice the adventurous to walk in the meadows the stunning and incomparable magnificence of the bright oranges, reds and yellows of the iconic maples of New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest can fill one with awe.

Where to go and what to see in autumn can be a struggle and hearing from someone who has seen a lot of fall colors is always welcomed. My suggestion is to just go and find what inspires you. Personally, I will never forget the iridescent colors of a New England fall, but I’ve also been enchanted by the glory of fall in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest.

I’m not nearly as traveled some, so I asked for advice from people who are.

The first is Chuck Leavell, who for 40 years was a rock keyboardist that included 25 years with the Rolling Stones. What some of his fans don’t know is his passion for conservation and tree farming, which earned him the title of Forest Service Honorary Forest Ranger and twice recipient of the Georgia Tree Farmer of the Year.

Leavell recommends enjoying fall colors at his favorite place, Tallulah Gorge State Park’s Amicalola Falls near Hellen, Georgia. He looks to the Pisgah National Forest as one of his favorite national forests for fall colors.

Darley Newman horseback riding with Kelly Terry of D&K Ranch in the Finger Lakes National Forest.
Darley Newman horseback riding with Kelly Terry of D&K Ranch in the Finger Lakes National Forest. (Photo credit: Chad Davis/ Travels with Darley.)

“Most of the forest was formerly owned by the Vanderbilt family, and the views from the family’s estate, the Biltmore in Asheville, are amazing,” Leavell said. “In fact, the Biltmore is often referred to as the cradle of American forestry because George Vanderbilt allowed Forest Service founder Gifford Pinchot to conduct some of his earliest studies in forestry on the vast estate.”

Another world travel and supporter of Forest Service-managed lands is Emmy Award winning Darley Newman of Travels with Darley. She is a travel expert who has documented on PBS and other channels the excitement of finding special places to visit.

“My favorite forest for fall colors is the Finger Lakes National Forest in New York State,” Newman said. “It is New York’s only national forest, and it’s in a stunning location that draws in hikers, horseback riders, history buffs and travelers who combine wine tasting at nearby vineyards with exploration. There are beautiful rolling hills and meadows to explore there.”

Caption: A view of the Pisgah National Forest from the Biltmore Estate where some of the earliest experiments in forestry were conducted by Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the USDA Forest Service.
A view of the Pisgah National Forest from the Biltmore Estate where some of the earliest experiments in forestry were conducted by Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the USDA Forest Service. (USDA Forest Service photo by Robert Westover)

Newman added that for those who like hiking, a great view to see the changing leaves along the Finger Lakes Trail. That trail connects to other large trail networks, including the 3,200-miles North Country National Scenic Trail and The Long Path.

Where do you like to go? When you post your fall color photos, tag us (#ForestServiceFallColors). If you want to keep your favorite places just to yourself no problem. Either way, we are happy with visitors finding national forests and grasslands a great place to see fall colors.

Visit the Forest Service Visitor Map for destination ideas.

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/features/falling-place