Nashville, TN – With autumn days quickly approaching, fall is the idyllic time to celebrate the most brilliant hues and outdoor beauty Tennessee has to offer.
Pile on the fall fun and experience the Volunteer State’s sprawling rainbow of autumn colors with these Instagram-worthy leaf-peeping spots, relaxing hikes, scenic drives, and hidden outdoor treasures.
Due to the state’s changing topography, each region of the state experiences peak colors at varying times. To view the best times to catch fall foliage, visit TNVacation.com’s leaf-peeping guide here.
Experience Fall’s Many Book of Colors with Tennessee Tourism’s Colorblind Viewfinders
Fall often brings sweater weather, pumpkin spice lattes, and the colorful splendor of autumn leaves. Tennessee Tourism realized that many with red-green color deficiency often can’t experience the full bloom of fall colors.
In 2017, the state installed EnChroma lenses engineered with spectral lens technology so that people with color blindness could participate and share the true colors of fall. Now, those wishing to experience Tennessee’s vibrant colors can find Colorblind Viewfinders at destinations such as Chickasaw State Park, Ruby Falls, I-26 Westbound Scenic Overlook and more. To view the full list of 12 destinations statewide, click here.
Feel the Crunch of Fallen Leaves with these Fall Hikes
Escape into delightful fall foliage at one of Tennessee’s 56 state parks, which all offer free admission for hiking, kayaking, rafting, paddle boarding, boating, and other outdoor adventures.
Get lost in the rainbow of orange, red, and yellows in Roan Mountain State Park’s 2,000 acres of beautiful forest and sprawling ridges, view unique rock formations, colorful woodlands, and picturesque panoramic overlooks at South Cumberland State Park along with many more fall treasures to stumble upon. The crisp, autumn air and stunning collage of fall colors make Tennessee the perfect fall destination for those wanting to get outside and try out those new hiking boots.
T.O. Fuller State Park – Memphis
Located just outside Memphis, T.O. Fuller State Park was the first state park for African Americans east of the Mississippi River. Named after Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, who came to Memphis as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Memphis on Beale Street, it is full of hiking and history. Only 10 miles from Graceland, the park provides 8 miles of hiking trails, endless birding opportunities, and scenic views. So pack a picnic with fall treats and enjoy an autumn day on one of the 35 picnic tables located within the park.
Radnor Lake State Park – Nashville
Escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Nashville this fall and head to Radnor Lake State Park. Boasting over 1,368 acres, visitors can experience Middle Tennessee’s rich fall colors amongst the park’s abundant species, observe wildlife and take advantage of the Walter Criley Visitor Center and Historic Valve House Trail to learn more about the area.
Natchez Trace State Park – Wildersville
With a range of activities, including hiking through beautiful forests, four lakes for fishing, boating and paddling, archery and firing range and horseback riding, Natchez Trace State Park is the perfect fall spot for the whole family. Spend the day learning about the history in the park’s museum, float down Pin Oak Lake on a kayak or pontoon and dine on southern-style cuisine at The Restaurant at Natchez Trace. Make it a weekend by booking a room at The Lodge or renting one of the park’s lakeside cabins.
House Mountain State Natural Area – Corryton
Classified as Knox County’s highest point, House Mountain provides expansive views of the surrounding areas, making it an ideal hike for leaf-peeping. Among the 527 acres of natural area, experience unique wildlife, trees, and wildflowers, all within a short driving distance from downtown Knoxville.
Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium – Kingsport
This 3,550-acre nature preserve features 38 miles of trails for hiking and biking, a 44-acre lake and native animal habitats. Take in the surrounding vibrant fall colors with a slow-paced barge ride across the lake or hike the Fire Tower Trail up to the Bays Mountain Fire Tower to take in the scenic views from above. During the fall months, the park offers many events, including Campfire tales, guided history hikes, nature evening paddles, nights with the rangers and a bike rally.
Start the Car! Take a Fall Foliage Tour Along Tennessee’s Scenic Byways
With an apple cider in hand, hit the open road for an unforgettable fall foliage driving tour along Tennessee’s scenic byways. Whether cruising along the Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway, Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway, the Americana Music Triangle, Ocoee Scenic Byway or the Great Smoky Mountains Byway, capture the clear autumn skies, colorful leaves, and hidden outdoor treasures Tennessee offers along the way.
Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway
The Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests, thus “Chero-hala.” At 5,400-foot elevations, drive above the clouds and catch a glimpse of stunning fall scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains and the Tennessee River Valley. The Skyway is known in motorcycling circles for its long, sweeping corners, making its mile-high vistas and brilliant views the perfect fall background.
Natchez Trace Parkway
This fall hit the open road on Tennessee’s very own historic byway, Natchez Trace Parkway. The 444-mile route that runs from Mississippi, through northwestern Alabama, and ends in Davidson County is filled with endless photo opportunities, historical sites, charming towns, and state parks. Looking for the best leaf-peeping and cute fall photo opportunities? Check out the Fall Hollow Waterfall, Devil’s Backbone State Natural Area, Jackson Falls, the town of Leiper’s Fork and Birdsong Hollow along the pathway.
Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway
Put on a fall music playlist and follow State Route 20 along the Sequatchie River one the Sequatchie Valley Scenic Byway. Along the way, take in the allure of small-town Tennessee, brightly colored trees, pumpkin patches, wildflowers, and charming houses and barns.
Ocoee Scenic Byway
Spend the day winding through the Tennessee Overhill region on the Ocoee Scenic Byway, known for its historic copper and coal mining area. Cruise up and down bluffs, ride along breathtaking rivers and take in the bright fall leaves cascading down the mountains for a stunning autumn getaway. Stop and check out Savannah Oaks Winery, McMinn City Living Heritage Museum, Ft. Loudoun State Historic Park, the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, the Historic Unicoi Turnpike Trail, and Ocoee State Park along the way.
Great Smoky Mountains Byway
Boasting millions of visitors each year, the Great Smoky Mountains’ sprawling hills and winding roads make it the ideal road trip destination. Pack the snacks and put on a good playlist to embark on the ultimate scenic fall fix. Along the byway, road trippers can experience panoramic views of some of the season’s best colors, grab a bite of local cuisine and stroll through the charming downtowns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and many more.
About Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Tennessee is the home of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll— delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history, and family adventure, infused with music that creates a vacation that is the “Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.” Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “TNVacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube and “Tennessee” on Snapchat.