By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Apparently in some parts of the country fall leaf tours are a big deal. Folks will flock from across the country, or at least the East Coast, to places in New England to see the first fall colors of the year. But while we might not get the same kind of traffic, I’d put the fall colors in Carter County up against any of them any time.
This year, in particular, it seems like the colors are more vibrant than they’ve been in the last couple of years and if you take a drive along any of our ridge roads you’re treated to spectacular views across the hilltops, with still green fields and yellow-brown hay bales accentuating the contrasting colors of the trees.
State Route 955 (Porter Creek) to 504 is one of my favorites for checking out the fall foliage, but it’s honestly hard to find a bad view. Grayson Lake offers amazing views as well, and so does Rattlesnake Ridge, Tick Ridge, and Flat Fork roads. State Route 182, between US 60 and Route 2 is another great drive to experience the fall colors. If you want to get out of your car, that route has the added benefit of allowing you the opportunity to take a hike in Carter Caves State Park, or check out Tygart State Forest.
Or, if you want to venture outside Carter County, as my family and I did last weekend when we took advantage of the warm weather to check out the White Oak Pumpkin Patch in Morgan County, you’ll find that Route 7 through Grayson Lake and Sandy Hook gives you a good view of our hillside color too. Or, if you’re coming from the other end of the county consider taking 504 on into Rowan County and turning left on SR 32, and then right onto 173. It’ll give you a nice, long ridge line to enjoy our fall splendor. When you get to the Elliott County line that way you can continue on 173 until you get to Route 7, or if you’re fine with twisting country roads (and who around here isn’t?) try taking 711 to hit Route 7 at Wrigley. That route also gives you the added benefit of passing through an old train tunnel through the hill and checking out the small waterfall on the other side.
You don’t have to check out the Pumpkin Patch – though if you have small children they’ll have an absolute blast feeding the goats and playing in the corn crib – but if you haven’t already got out to enjoy them, and you get a chance before the rain and the wind knock all the leaves off the trees, you owe it to yourself to get out and appreciate the kind of seasonal show it’s all too easy to take for granted if you aren’t careful.
We’re blessed to call one of the most beautiful parts of the country home. We ought to take the time to remember that and appreciate it.
Jeremy D. Wells can be reached at