Bays Mountain Park is always a great draw for visitors seeking the crisp, cool air of fall and the vibrant colors of the season. The peak time to view the fall colors is this week and next.
To give residents even more opportunity to view the specular leave colors, extra barge rides will be added to the weekend of October 15-16 to allow visitors additional opportunity to enjoy the colors around the lake. Rides will be at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. Cost is $5.00 per person.
Below is an excerpt from an article on ‘Autumn in the Southern Appalachians’ by retired Bays Mountain Park Director Tom Bowman:
“We are often asked why autumn in southern Appalachia is so colorful. It is because of the tremendous species diversity of the trees in our area. I came originally from western Kansas. Though beautiful in its own way, there exists in that area fewer than a dozen dominant tree species. Most exist in riparian communities along streams. Fall leaf color is pretty much species specific. Fewer trees and fewer tree varieties amount to less color. It is said there are more tree species in southern Appalachia than on the entire continent of Europe. There are 110 species of trees in Bays Mountain alone. Couple this diversity with some basic leaf ‘chemistry’ and the product is a multi-colored palate.”
Leaf chemistry is happening all year round. Certain chemicals show through as different pigments depending on the species. Brilliant yellows, and oranges in varying degrees are dominant in hickories, ash, maples, birch, and sassafras.
Other pigments are produced late in the summer leaf. These pigments show up as reds, purples, and varying combinations. They show up in the leaves of trees such as sweet gum, oaks, maples, sourwood, dogwood, and persimmons.
It is easy to see how differing pigment levels and combinations, in the 110 tree species of Bays Mountain along, can produce the vast panorama of fall coloration we enjoy in our area.
So get out and enjoy the great leaf colors before they’re gone – it only happens once a year!
For more information on Bays Mountain, please visit baysmountain.com or call 423-224-2589.