Looking for a picturesque autumn drive? Leave it to us. A toasty September means the leaves are changing later than normal, so plan your October with these can’t-miss road trips featuring fall foliage across the Mountain State.

The journey is just as important as the destination. That’s especially true for West Virginia Route 7, which stretches from New Martinsville at the Ohio River to Corinth on the state’s border with Maryland. This beloved country road provides the perfect lazy Saturday route out of town toward Kingwood (45 minutes). Turn on some feel-good tunes and enjoy winding through the gold-and-rust colored tunnel of trees. Gas up the car soon―peak leaf-peeping time for Preston County is now!

Perhaps no place in the Monongahela National Forest offers a better view of nature’s fireworks than Seneca Rocks (2h15m). The steep, mile-long hike to the summit reveals a valley popping in fiery reds and oranges. The show started in late September and continues through mid-October, so put this day trip near the top of your list. Take West Virginia Route 92 south for an equally vibrant drive.

Also in mid-October, pack a picnic and trek to Valley Falls State Park in Fairmont (45m). Have lunch under a canopy of color, and then hike along the banks of the Tygart Valley River. The hush of water over rocks and crunch of leaves underfoot form the perfect autumn soundtrack. The state park is off of I-79, but we recommend the scenic route following U.S. 119 south.

The fall foliage at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (2h45m) will have you saying, “Oh Shenandoah!” Perched at the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, the park and town of Harpers Ferry are awash in natural beauty and historic attractions. The Eastern Panhandle’s leafy hues are slated to peak in late October, which gives you time to plan a weekend getaway. For a drive with a view, turn off I-68 east at Cumberland for Maryland State Route 51 south. The diversion adds 25 minutes but it’s oh so worth it.

New River Gorge National River (2h20m) will be closing October with one of autumn’s finest farewell displays. Follow one of the many hiking trails winding through the canyon, or watch the kaleidoscope of trees rush by on a whitewater rafting trip. If a relaxing afternoon is more your speed, kick back in one of rocking chairs at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. Its back deck provides a two-mile view overlooking one of the world’s oldest rivers.

A single turn down a back road is all it takes to see the glorious colors of Almost Heaven.

Jess Walker
Written by Jess Walker
Jess Walker came to West Virginia to pursue her master’s degree in English, but stayed for the culture, nature, and stories. She writes for WV Living and Morgantown magazines. Her best ideas happen when she’s outdoors, preferably near a river and with a cup of coffee in hand.