Circle of Trails has all the golds, crimsons & oranges you need
By Amity Moore Joyce
You don’t need to travel to America’s northeast for New England-like foliage. Alabama has all the golds, oranges and crimsons necessary for a scenic fall road trip. Follow the Circle of Colors Trail, a loop that travels primarily through North Alabama. Follow the Circle of Colors Trail, a loop that travels primarily through North Alabama. From caves and caverns to towering mountaintops, adventure awaits. Marvel in the beauty of our many trails and waterways that is sure to take you off the beaten path. The 22 state parks, which encompass 48,000 acres of land and water, provide endless opportunities to fish, camp, canoe, hike and enjoy the great outdoors.
Ashville and Oneonta:
One of the more stunning places to view fall foliage is in the Covered Bridge Capital of Alabama, Blount County. There are three covered bridges in the area: the Easley, Horton Mill and Swann are open to the public. Begin your journey in Ashville on U.S. 231 N and travel to Oneonta to see covered bridges the way they were meant to be seen—against a rainbow of fall hues.
Oxford and Anniston:
Leaving Little River Canyon, stay on AL 176 W, and then take AL 68 E to Leesburg and Cherokee Rock Village to hit US 411 N to Centre. From there, get on AL 9S in Lineville and take AL 49 N then AL 281 S to Cheaha State Park, the state’s highest peak. Scenic views of fall foliage are breathtaking.
Cullman and Double Springs:
Continue following the Circle of Colors Trail by picking up U.S. 278 W to Cullman and Double Springs and on to Bankhead National Forest, where you can see the forest and the leaves. Don’t miss the Natural Bridge of Alabama, a selfie-worthy stop.
Hamilton and Hodges:
At Hamilton, take U.S. 43 N to reach Dismals Canyon and Rock Bridge Canyon in Hodges.
The highway intersects with U.S. 72 and crosses over the Tennessee River into Florence. Stop at Joe Wheeler State Park, where a riverboat tour shows off the state park and Wheeler Lake in their fall finery.
Scottsboro and Lake Guntersville:
Continue east on U.S. 72 to Huntsville and then onward to Scottsboro, not far from Lake Guntersville. This lake is known for bird watching, and the fall migration does not disappoint. For more twists, turns and stops on this fall-color tour, visit Alabama Travel, where you can find a timeline of the predicted peaks for fall color up and down the state.
Mentone and Fort Payne:
Continuing east, take I-59 in Hammondville to visit the mountain town of Mentone for antique shopping and log cabins on top of Lookout Mountain. Take Lookout Mountain Parkway (CO 89 and AL 176) to DeSoto State Park. Detour at AL 35S to the AL 176 section that weaves along the rim of Little River Canyon located in Fort Payne.
Your journey continues when leaving Oxford on I20 W towards Birmingham. You will take I-459 S to Pelham hitting I-65 S and pick up 119 N to Oak Mountain State Park.
Pictured: Little River Canyon in Fort Payne; the icredible view from Birmingham’s Ruffner Mountain; Covered briddges at Rickwood Caverns State Park.