Autumn leaves lure many people to the mountains each fall, but local vistas are reaching their colorful peak much closer to home.
“I’ve been out a good bit in the last couple of weeks, and color has been steady improving here,” said Army Corps of Engineers conservation biologist Ken Boyd, who works at Thurmond Lake. “If we haven’t reached peak color here, we are getting close.”
The lake, with abundant views from scores of coves and bridge crossings, typically shows its best blaze of fall color around Halloween, but this year’s dry weather has delayed the show a little, Boyd said.
“It seems to me that with the warmer temps lasting a little longer this year, the trees have been a little slower to turn,” he said.
Viewing options include hiking or riding bikes at Bussey Point or the Bartram Trail courses near the dam, or the areas near the Visitors Center.
Augustans can also find quality fall color in their own backyards, said Sid Mullis, Augusta-Richmond County’s extension coordinator.
The area near the county landfill off Deans Bridge Road is the highest point in the county and offers great driving views of mixed hardwood forests, he said.
“Also, going to south Augusta and driving back in on either Peach Orchard Road or Deans Bridge, there are some high spots where you can be looking down over forested areas of trees to see their color,” Mullis said. “Also, going downhill on Walton Way past Milledge toward Partridge Inn is a high-up place to look down.”
The trails along the Augusta Canal towpath, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park and the North Augusta Greeneway also include scenic fall color opportunities.
Mullis recommends a few individual trees with spectacular foliage.
“The most striking tree is the gingko at the Old Government House on Telfair Street,” he said. “They are bright yellow when they turn.”
Some downtown streets between Telfair and Broad are lined with gingkos, and the downtown area also has baldcypress trees that turn red.
“There are lots of Chinese pistache trees around the Crawford Avenue/Calhoun Expressway interchange,” Mullis said. “And Walton Way from around Richmond Academy east toward downtown to, or maybe past, 15th Street is lined with Shumard oaks, and they have a pretty red fall color.”