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How to find the best places to see fall foliage in Missouri

A weekly fall colors report from MDC will showcase where to find the most beautiful colors

ST. LOUIS — Sweater weather, pumpkin-spiced everything and cooler temperatures mean another favorite part of fall is almost here: leaf peeping!

Changing leaves and beautiful colors will soon start to dot the landscape across the St. Louis area. With a wide variety of trees, shrubs and vines, the Bi-state typically sees a fall color season that lasts for four to six weeks, the Missouri Department of Conservation said.

Editor's note: The video above is from October 2019.

Don’t be surprised if you start to see some colors popping now. MDC reported that sassafras, sumac and Virginia creeper are some of the earliest to put on a fall color show, typically beginning in mid-September. By the end of the month, black gum, bittersweet and dogwoods join in the foliage display.

As for when the most foliage will be at its peak, MDC officials said the third week of October tends to be a good time to enjoy all the colors.

“Colors are usually fading and leaves are falling by the end of the month,” explained MDC community forester Ann Koenig.

Peak fall foliage can shift from year to year, depending on weather conditions. Generally, we want chilly fall nights to break down green pigments in leaves and lock in sugars that lead to vibrant shades of red, yellow, orange and purple. Trees start changing color in the northern part of the state and then work their way south.

To help Missourians soak in every second of leaf peeping season, MDC will put out a fall color report every week beginning this month. The first report is not yet available but should be posted soon and will continue through November.

“Our fall color report is updated weekly from MDC foresters all over the state,” explained Koenig. “Users can see where trees are beginning to turn and get recommendations on great places to view the changing leaves.”

MDC conservation areas, state parks prairies and even roadsides full of nature can be great spots to view the state’s fall colors.

See the weekly fall colors report on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website.

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