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Thursday, September 11, 2008 -- Snowshoe, WV
Fall in Pocahontas is Splash + Dash + and Panache (iPO Event Id#: 11281)

By Gail Hyer, Pocahontas County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB)

MARLINTON, W.Va.- Even with drought conditions, the fall leaf color in Pocahontas County, West Virginia remains some of the most spectacular in the eastern region.

"People call our office daily to see if the next day or two will be the peak time to see the leaves," said Linda Adams, Office manager of the Pocahontas County Convention & Visitors Bureau in Marlinton. "Visitors drive down from the Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Pittsburgh areas to witness our incredible fall color."

Fall color in Pocahontas County
Bike or hike in amazing Pocahontas County fall color.
There is significantly more color this week than last as autumn color is reaching its peak in elevations above 3000 feet. The fall leaf season of several weeks has been hindered this year by warm nights but that all came to a sudden stop on Wednesday evening when temperatures plummeted to the low 40's. The County continues to experience very dry conditions and in some locations is considerably below normal rainfall amounts for this time of the year.

Pocahontas County, with en elevation of 2,400 to 4,800 feet, sees fall foliage first in West Virginia and on the Allegheny front. Because more than 60 percent of the area is either Monongahela National Forest or state parks, the area abounds with deciduous forests. Brilliant golds and the buttery yellows of American beech, and silver birch dot the higher slopes while varying shades of reds and crimsons of maples, sumacs, cherry, and mountain ash dazzle against the azure mountain sky.

Some excellent driving vantage points to take in the breath-taking color in Pocahontas County include: the Highland Scenic Highway, Route 39 from the Virginia line west to Richwood, Route 219 south to Hillsboro out Rt 29 (Lobelia Rd) which crosses Caesars' Mountain and ending up on Droop Mountain. Forest Service Road 14 off State Route 28 going east from Bartow offers drivers a kaleidoscope of color.

Bicycling or walking points are best along the Greenbrier River Trail + access in Marlinton and go either north of Cass or south towards Caldwell. Trails along the Scenic Highway also offer riders and hikers a visual color palette.

Indian Legend has it that celestial hunters slew the Great Bear autumn and the spilled blood turned the leaves red. Other legends persist as well but we know today that the changes are the result of chemical processes taking place in the tree as the growing season ends.

In addition to green chlorophyll, leaves also contain yellow or orange carotenoids. For most of the year, the little bit of yellow/orange carotenoid color is hidden by the huge amounts of green chlorophyll. But, in the fall, the food factories shut down for the winter. The chlorophyll breaks down and the green fades away, letting the yellow and orange carotenoids blaze forth, giving autumn it splash, dash and panache!

At the same time, other chemical changes occur, giving rise to more pigments which vary from yellow to red to blue. It is to these changes we owe the reds and purples of sumac, the brilliant orange or fiery red and yellow of sugar maples, and the golden bronze of beech.

For more information about color changes in the high mountains of the Alleghenies, contact the Pocahontas County CVB at (800) 336-7009.