Fall Foliage Tours and Road Trips in East Texas

Fall Foliage in East Texas

While Texas may not be as well known for fall foliage as New England, or even northern Arkansas, many opportunites can be easily found. One of the better known is the Lost Maples State Natural Area northwest of San Antonio. The Bastrop State Park Scenic Drive is also a popular destination in the fall.

But we find that the best fall foliage viewing is in the Piney Woods Section of East Texas, where there are ample places to view fall foliage in its colorful magnificence via a number of scenic drives!

The hardwood trees of the area put on a beautiful display of yellows, oranges and reds.

We are all ready for fall color "peak week" ... but when is it? It is hard, or impossible to predict, as multiple factors dictate the timing, duration and intensity of colors.

The maples, oaks, gum, elm, beech, hickory, dogwoods, crepe myrtles, Bradford pear, and other species usually come into their peak in late October and November in East Texas. Variations in peak times depend on temperatures, rainfall, wind, and days of sunlight, as well as soil conditions and elevation.

Vibrant Maple tree leaves from the Fall of 2017 in Upper East Texas Vibrant Maple tree leaves from the Fall of 2017 in Upper East Texas

Virtually any farm-to-market road, county road and state highway offer excellent drives within a few minutes of Tyler. Many cities and towns like Nacogdoches and Athens have foliage tours, festivals and detailed maps.

East Texas 2017 Fall Foliage Report

It's been a warm fall here in East Texas in 2017, with temperatures into the 90s even in early October. The nightly lows have been only in the upper 60s. And of course it remains very dry, with little rain since early August.

Perhaps the cold front that moved through East Texas on October 10 triggered the start of fall foliage colors.

Colors peaked in late November, 2017, in Upper East Texas.

East Texas Fall Foliage Cam

Included below is the latest image from our Fall Foliage Web Cam, showing a representative look at the status of the fall foliage in East Texas. This is our last image for 2017, as we experienced peak foliage on November 28 ... and by December 3 all leaves were off the trees!

The cam is located on a ranch with gently rolling hills and several hundred acres of forests. It includes a variety of trees that produce fall color, including maple, oak, elm, dogwood, gum, and crepe myrtle.

East Texas Fall Foliage Cam - Peak Over - December 3, 2017
East Texas Fall Foliage Cam - Peak Over - December 3, 2017

East Texas Fall Foliage Cam - Peak - November 28, 2017
East Texas Fall Foliage Cam - Peak - November 28, 2017

East Texas Fall Foliage Cam - November 4, 2017
East Texas Fall Foliage Cam - November 4, 2017

East Texas Fall Foliage Cam - October 16, 2017
East Texas Fall Foliage Cam - October 16, 2017

 

Suggested Road Trips to View Fall Foliage in East Texas

The days are clear and cool ... time for fall foliage in Tyler and East Texas!When the days are clear and cool ... it's time for fall foliage in East Texas!

The fall in East Texas areas is alive with vibrant fall foliage, and a great time to drive the back roads, and scenic byways.

Included below are some suggested road trips to view the colors of autumn, along with photographs of East Texas fall foliage.

If You Start Your Tour in Tyler

You can start your East Texas foliage tour anywhere, and have an exciting journey!

However, Tyler is an excellent, central starting point for those taking day trips, and with a large selection of hotels and restaurants, is a great place to spend relaxing evenings after a day on the roads.

Tyler is the Rose Capital of America, the home of the nation's largest municipal rose garden. Tyler Rose Garden features more than just 40,000 rose bushes, including a wooded area with towering trees, and numerous Japanese Maples that sport bright fall foliage. The 2017 Texas Rose Festival is from October 19-22.

Tyler's Azalea National Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, comprises about 950 homes built in the first half of the 20th century, with a large concentration of structures from the 1930s when the oil boom had a huge economic impact on Tyler.

The site of Tyler's popular Azalea Trails in the spring, the area is always worth a drive, or a walking tour, even in the fall. Large numbers of colorful hardwood trees and Japanese Magnolias dot the area.

 

From Tyler, get off the beaten path, and explore East Texas in several directions ...

Map of East Texas counties and cities

Driving North From Tyler

Quiet moment in the fall at Daingerfield State ParkQuiet moment in the fall at Daingerfield State Park

A popular drive to the north is along Texas Highway 14, which takes you by Tyler State Park. The park is built around a lake, and provides overnight camping venues, mountain biking, picnicking, hiking and more. Continuing the drive along Highway 14 from Tyler State Park you arrive at the town of Hawkins; from there a connection with Highway 2869 takes you to Winnsboro, offering many choices for fall foliage viewing.

In the Winnsboro area, three routes are part of the Autumn Trails Tour: southeast, south and southeast of the city. Contact the Winnsboro Autumn Trails Association for more information.

Other East Texas parks are great foliage locations also. Daingerfield State Park has the Rustling Leaves Nature Trail, camping, fishing, hiking and more, all nestled in colorful groups of maples, gums and oaks.

The City of Pittsburg is the county seat of Camp County, Texas, located between Gilmer and Mt. Pleasant on U.S. 271, and between Winnsboro and Daingerfield on Texas Highway 11. One of the many attractions in this area is the Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, lovely any time of the year, spectacular in the fall.

 

 

Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards in the fall
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards in the fall


Fall scene on a quiet backroad in East Texas during peak fall foliageFall scene on a quiet backroad in East Texas (Staff photo)

Gladewater is the antique capitol of East Texas, located on US 271 and historic US Highway 80, about 30 minutes north of Tyler, and close to many country roads with bright fall colors. It is situated west of Longview, east of Big Sandy, and north of Kilgore.

Highway 16 from Winona to Lindale is a favorite drive. And just to the north near Mineola is the 2,900 acre Mineola Nature Preserve, a popular destination in the fall.

Trips to the South of Tyler

Love's Lookout offers a beautiful 30-mile vista of fall colors to the East, located between Jacksonville and Tyler on U.S. 69 ... great picnic location, with modern restroom facilities.

Jacksonville lies to the south of Tyler on U.S. 69, and features a beautiful drive around Lake Jacksonville.

Nacogdoches offers the Deep East Texas Fall Foliage Trail, looping from Nacogdoches thru Alto, Crockett, Livingston, Newton, Hemphill, San Augustine and Shelbyville. Download the PDF map from the Nacogdoches Visitors Bureau

Ride the Texas State Railroad from Rusk to Palestine, and back, in fall. This historic railroad offers steam train excursions through 25 miles of scenic piney woods and colorful hardwood creek bottoms amidst a backdrop of rolling hills, nature and wildlife. A great fall foliage adventure!

Fall foliage scene along the back roads of East Texas (2015)
Fall foliage along the back roads of East Texas


Venturing West of Tyler

Fall foliage at the East Texas Arboretum in AthensFall foliage at the East Texas Arboretum in Athens

The City of Athens is about 37 miles from downtown Tyler on Highway 31.

The Athens tourism department offers a scenic driving trail for visitors. The 55-mile Athens self-guided driving trail begins and ends at the Athens Partnership Center, located at 201 W. Corsicana Street, in Athens.

The Athens scenic driving tour meanders along the back roads of Henderson County to view fall foliage at several attractions along the way such as NY-TX Zipline Adventures, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, Lake Athens, East Texas Arboretum, and Tara Vineyard & Winery.

The drive from Tyler west along Texas State Highway 64 and then Highway 279 to Edom is always a pleasant trip. This quaint village is surrounded by lovely countryside scenes and forests ... plus festivals, potters, artists, garden centers, restaurants, eclectic shopping. Don't miss Blue Moon Gardens ... and lunch at The Shed is always a treat!

Canton is the site of the famous First Monday Trade Days each month,and is an easy 45-minute drive west of Tyler through rolling hills, ranches and forests along Highway 64.

 

 

Road Trips East of Tyler

The Graceful Ghost steamboat on tour in Caddo LakeThe Graceful Ghost steamboat on tour in Caddo Lake in the fall ... visit the Graceful Ghost website for tour info

Highway 64 east from Tyler to Henderson is an easy trip, through forest and rolling ranch lands.

Visit Joinerville  and see first hand where the famous East Texas Oil Field was discovered, and enjoy the brilliant fall colors on the area's backroads and countrysides.

From Henderson, take Highway 43 north by Martin Lake State Park to Marshall, and then on U.S. Highway 59 to Jefferson, for dining, shopping and additional fall colors.

In the area, don't miss a photo op in the tiny village of Uncertain, and steamboat rides on Caddo Lake.

 

Photographs of Fall Foliage in East Texas in Recent Years

Maple tree colors at peak color in East Texas in 2013 (Staff photo)
Maple tree fall colors at peak in East Texas

Fall foliage on FM 2868 west of Flint in East Texas (Staff photo)
Fall foliage on FM 2868 just west of Flint in East Texas

Fall colors on Old Bullard Road, CR 122, south of Tyler Texas (Staff photo)
Fall colors on Old Bullard Road, CR 122, just south of Tyler Texas

Fall colors on Saline Creek Road west of Gresham in East Texas (Staff photo)
Fall colors on Saline Creek Road just west of Gresham, in East Texas


Maple leaves at peak color in Longview Texas during October fall foliage (Staff photo)
Maple leaves at peak color in Longview Texas during October

Brilliant yellow and fall foliage in East Texas (Staff photo)
Fall foliage in East Texas


Fall foliage around a peaceful lake in East Texas (Staff photo)
Fall foliage around a lake in East Texas

 

 

Maple tree in peak fall color near Nacogdoches Texas (Staff photo)
Maple tree in peak fall color near Nacogdoches Texas


A profusion of yellow fall foliage colors near Kilgore in East Texas (Staff photo)
The beautiful yellow fall foliage colors near Kilgore in East Texas

Dogwood tree foliage and berries at peak fall color near Palestine in East Texas (Staff photo)
Dogwood tree at peak fall color near Palestine in East Texas

Quiet meandering country road in the fall in the rolling hills of the Piney Woods of East Texas (Staff photo)
Quiet country road in the fall in the rolling hill of the Piney Woods of East Texas

Beauty Berry - A fall native plant that grows in the wild in East Texas (Staff photo)
Beauty Berry - A fall native plant that grows in the wild in East Texas

Even in urban areas, fall makes an impressive show in East Texas, as in this photo of an office building
and fall foliage in Tyler on Loop 323 (Staff photo)
Even in urban areas, fall makes an impressive show in East Texas, as in this photo of an office building 
and fall foliage in Tyler on Loop 323

 


 

Interactive Map of the Upper East Texas Region