Are you starting to dream about the feel of a cool autumn breeze? To hear the crackle of leaves beneath your feet? To smell the smoke of an evening campfire?
In these dog days of summer, autumn may seem distant, but plans are already underway to give a Texas-size welcome to fall. Small towns throughout the state are putting the finishing touches on harvest festival plans, and bed and breakfasts are getting ready for a peak tourism season, and hotlines are making preparations to field questions for just where to spot the best fall foliage.
And just where do you find the best fall colors? The obvious answer might seem to be Vermont or New Hampshire, but a brilliant quilt of fall colors can also be found in the Lone Star State. Unlike its northern neighbors, however, Texas doesn’t have vast displays of color but rather pockets of autumnal glory throughout the region.
West of Austin, the Hill Country puts on a show of color thanks to the bigtooth maples, sumacs, sycamores, chinaberries, and cottonwoods. These trees begin to blush with fall’s first flush as the days start to grow shorter and the nights a little cooler. Farther west, the Guadalupe Mountains are home to the magnificent McKittrick Canyon, where walnut, ash, oak, and the Texas madrone color the landscape.
But the largest displays of fall foliage are found in East Texas, thanks to brilliant dogwoods, beech, blackgum, hickory and other hardwoods. Here you can spend a weekend camping among a cushion of pine needles, enjoying small town festivals that celebrate the changing season, and cruising the countryside to see color displays that leaf peepers have reported to area hotlines. Because Texas’ displays are compact, the hotlines are especially important for locating the best foliage.
Photo credit: Clipart.com