Virginia offers scenic back roads and spectacular national parks for those interested in reveling in the brilliance of fall color.
In Shenandoah National Park and particularly along winding Skyline Drive, Virginia's most popular foliage viewing area, the trees should be at peak color between now and Oct. 20. Park officials say weekend traffic is usually heavy during the peak period and suggest visitors try the drive during the week.
For fall foliage a little closer to home try the rural and less congested roads around Loudoun, Stafford, Fauquier and Prince William counties. The leaves in those areas should reach their peak color between this weekend and the end of the month. Among the scenic drives in those areas are Rte. 9 in Loudoun County toward Harper's Ferry, W. Va., and Rte. 17 in Prince William and Stafford counties.
West Virginia, about two hours drive from Washington, offers several good foliage-viewing areas. The trees there are scheduled to reach peak color Oct. 11-20. Sleepy Creek Hunting Area near the town of Berkeley Springs is a scenic 27,000-acre reserve. But West Virginia tourist officials advise hikers and leaf-watchers to wear orange because the hunting season there begins Oct. 12.
In Maryland, specialists say the best places to see fall colors are higher elevations such as the Catoctin mountains in Frederick County, where leaves are expected to reach peak color between now and Oct. 20. One of the popular spots is Cunningham Falls State Park, about 12 miles north of Frederick. West of Frederick along U.S. Rte. 40 and Interstate 70 there are numerous scenic overlooks.