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When is the best time for leaf peeping in South Carolina?

There's a change in the weather -- and it's about time for leaves to change color.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — There was a slight dip in temperatures over the weekend -- just enough to get us thinking about the explosion of color that happens every fall and has us driving to the Upstate to observe a most brilliant change of season.

But when is the best time to make that drive? 

Here's what some tried-and-true predictors have to say:

Farmers Almanac lists the best days of fall foliage in South Carolina is October 19 through November 4. For those willing to drive a bit further, the Almanac picks the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee and Mount Cheaha in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Alabama as the top three spots for fall leaves.

The Fall Foliage Prediction Map on the Smoky Mountains website is an interactive map predicting the optimum time to see fall foliage throughout the United States. It shows in South Carolina, leaves have already begun to turn color, but the best time for viewing begins October 4 (for Oconee, Pickens and Greenville counties) and runs through October 25. According to the FFPM, most of the Upstate will be past peak by the 25th and the entire state (all the way to the coast) will be the past peak by November 8.

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Some picturesque spots to see the fall color in South Carolina:

  • Campbells Covered Bridge in Landrum, northern Greenville County. The narrow red wooden bridge was built in 1909 and is now a part of the Greenville County parks system.
  • Stumphouse Tunnel in Sumter National Forest in Walhalla, Oconee County, is an unfinished railroad tunnel built for the Blue Ridge Railroad of South Carolina. The nearby Issaqueena Falls make the drive worth the drive.
  • Jumping Off Rock in Sunset, with views of Lake Jocassee, 448 Horse Pasture Rd, in Pickens County
  • The Peak to Prosperity Passage on the Palmetto Trail has suspended bridges and repurposed railroad trestles along the 11.4 mile segment spanning Newberry and Fairfield counties.
  • Take a drive along SC Highway 11 -- The Cherokee Path -- the scenic highway runs along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers access to apple orchards and scenic overlooks such as Caesars Head and Table Rock state parks. From Columbia, head towards Spartanburg on I-26 and take Exit 5 and head west through Campobello, Sunset and Walhalla.

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