Tourists and locals alike go crazy for the yearly fall foliage spectacle. Can we blame them though? The changing of the colors is a beautiful sight marking the start of a new season, changes to the landscape, and cooler temperatures. Finally, we can go paddling in our portable kayak without sweating through our clothes (for the most part!). Bask in the new season with some of these top picks we selected to view fall from the beauty of the water.
1. Pohick Bay Regional Park, VA
Pohick Bay Regional Park is in Fairfax County in Northern Virginia. The fall colors are hitting in October and this is a beautiful place to take the whole family with plenty of options around the park - including a waterpark! Hang out on shore for a while before taking off on the water in either one of the rentals provided or of course your K-PAK you packed along! Nothing is better than skipping the rental line and taking off on your own leisure. Put in on the calm bay for a beautiful tour of the changing colors and maybe opt-in at one of the provided campsites.
2. Kings Mountain State Park, SC
Kings Mountain State Park is one of 16 state parks built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The 6,885-acre park boasts two lakes for fishing along with camping, hiking, kayaking, and an living history farm from the 1800s. Great views of the changing leaves can be seen on the shores of the park’s lakes: the 63-acre Lake York and the 13-acre Lake Crawford.
3. Androscoggin River, ME
Go ahead, try to pronounce it! Maine’s 3rd largest river used to be one of the most polluted, but with the help of caring people and actions in river reform, it's now considered one of the best - and perfect for some fall color, too! With so much river there is an abundance of options to choose from. The river runs through Maine, New Hampshire, and northern New England, ending at a total of 178 miles long!
4. Tallulah Gorge, GA
One of the most spectacular canyons in the eastern U.S., Tallulah Gorge is two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Check out the park’s Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center providing an award-winning film taking viewers on a journey through the gorge, including footage of rock climbers and kayakers. Paddling options include whitewater kayaking when the dam’s water release is high enough for this activity.
5. The Green River, NC
Just as pretty as it sounds! The Green River is an alcohol-free zone with Class I, II and III rapids - famous for the Green Race, this year on November 4th. (Yes - alcohol-free. And there are troopers scattered on the water during the busy season to ticket those they see with a container. You have been warned!) The Green River stays fairly unpolluted and pristine throughout the year with plenty of float trips and kayaking classes. The river is a dam-release river that flows through the mountains of North Carolina. The colors are already changing! October is the perfect time while it is not too cold to float down and see the beautiful reds and oranges.
6. Okatoma Creek, MS
The Okatoma covers a wide range of paddling dynamics. From wide, lazy stretches (perfect for your Folding Boat!) to faster portions with chutes, riffles, and rapids, the Okatoma has something for beginner and advanced paddlers alike. The creek is surrounded by beautiful tress bursting with wildlife including deer, turkeys and various bird species. Thanks to a wide range of habitats, the forests of the Mississippi are diverse and cover about 65% of the land mass within the state. The predominant forest type is mixed hardwoods, and fall colors are beautiful.
7. Red River Gorge, KY
The Daniel Boone National Forest embraces some of the most rugged terrain west of the Appalachian Mountains. Steep forested slopes, sandstone cliffs and narrow ravines scatter throughout the forest. A National Wild and Scenic River meanders among more than 100 sandstone arches ― the largest group east of the Rocky Mountains. Picture the magnificent sculptured rocks of Utah’s and Arizona’s national parks, surround them with a lush forest, and you get a sense of what the Red River Gorge looks like. Plenty to do and see throughout this whole area stay for a few weeks if you have time! The predicted time to head to the Red River Gorge for Fall Foliage is in late October.
8. The Patuxent River, MD
Fall colors everywhere! The Patuxent River is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay and is the largest and longest river entirely within Maryland. Find a variety of trees including maple, gum, ash, beech, and birch trees. Visit Patuxent River State Park for options other than kayaking such as fishing, camping and hunting! Enjoy the scenery and don’t forget your map!
9. Big South Fork, TN
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area protects the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland. The area has miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs and provides visitors with a wide range of outdoor recreational activities. Just like any river, know the sections of the river and which parts you can handle. The river varies from beginner sections to parts only suitable for advanced kayakers. Fall foliage is predicted for Mid-October but should last until at least November depending on the weather. Check the forecast and head on out!
10. Lake Fontana, NC
Looking for some clear as day water to go with the beautiful tree colors? Look no further! Lake Fontana has some of the clearest water around, hop in and see all the way to your toes. Unlike many popular lakes this area is pretty quiet with only faint sounds of boats as they happily trek by. Fontana Lake was actually built during World War II, to provide electric power for the war effort. The small town has since grown into a beautiful lake community. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Nantahala National Forest own and protect about 90% of the 238-mile shoreline. Spend the weekend exploring and soaking in the leaves by stopping at one of the many campsites along the way.
Time is of the essence, grab your folding boat and paddle on!