West Virginia fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing West Virginia fall foliage. — Saira Bajwa
Monongahela National Forest
The Monongahela National Forest is flush with colorful displays of crimson glory during the peak foliage season. It is also home to miles of hiking trails, where leaf lovers can see maples, sycamores, birch and ash trees up close. The forest sits atop the highest mountains of a state known as the Mountain State. So you know you're pretty up there (nearly a mile above sea level). Start your quest at the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, which puts on a live-snake program for kids. And in nearby Blackwater Falls State Park, make sure to stop at Lindy Point Overlook, which features a chimney-rock formation over a devastatingly vivid sea of green, yellow, red and gold.
Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, Hillsboro, WV 24946 | Get Directions
Parkersburg, West Virginia
The picturesque town of Parkersburg is a gem in Northwestern West Virginia on the Ohio border. Parkersburg is a throwback to another era, showcasing late-19th century homes, which standout even more spectacularly against the autumn backdrop of the changing leaves. A must see is the stern-wheeler cruise to historic Blennerhassett Island State Park in the Ohio River -- there are also numerous foliage cruises on the Ohio. Start your quest at the Blennerhassett Museum.
Blennerhassett Museum, 137 Juliana St., Parkersburg, WV 26101 | Get Directions
Philippi Covered Bridge
Tiny Philippi -- population 2870 -- has a historical significance that belies its size. The town was the site of the first land battle of the Civil War, and its charming Philippi covered bridge, built in 1852, is the nation's only covered bridge serving a federal highway. The bridge -- built of yellow poplar -- has survived the last 140 years, through the Civil War, floods and damage from traffic, and makes for an ideal photo opportunity set against the blazing West Virginia fall foliage.
Philippi Covered Bridge, U.S. 250, Philippi, WV 26416 | Get Directions
Astounding -- though brief -- fall-foliage footage from Blackwater Falls Canyon in West Virginia.
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Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.