2012 Ozark Fall Foliage Color
for the North Central Arkansas & South Central
Norfork Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, White
River, Glade Top Trail, and Ozark National Forest areas
2012 - Our 15th
consecutive year of fall foliage reporting
Final Report For
A big thanks for all the positive emails from our readers this fall! Thanks to all for
visiting us this year.
November 1, 2012
Color Not Good
Friday Evening Update
We've received quite a few questions
about just how bad is bad. On a scale of 1 to 10 color this weekend and next week will hit
somewhere between a 5 and a 6. In a few spots color will hit a 7. Follow the report below
for the best color. You can also drive through the Corps of Army Parks around Norfork and
Bull Shoals Lakes. You'll see some very pretty trees. But the grand hillside miles of
color will not be visible in most areas. Hope this helps!
Bad news folks! We drove our entire reporting area today (280 miles)
and it was not looking good anywhere. We've had several days of too-hot weather. For good
color to develop we need sunny days that don't get warmer than 55 to 60 degrees F. The
last several days have been in the high 70's and low 80's. This just fried the foliage!
The cold front did move in last week, but did not stay. Had it held
for another week no doubt about it, we would have had the best color in years. But the
cold did not last long enough. As a result, the color is now dull. In fact, many trees are
still mostly green. To make matters worse, the weather will stay warm for several more
days. The result will be dull, pale, rusty, colors. This is what happens with foliage, it
is rarely predictable for more than a few days out. It is entirely dependent on weather
If you have a trip planned for this weekend, here's where to go for
the remaining color.
The Glade Top trail is past peak so don't go there. While many trees
on the Glade Top are still mostly green, brilliant colors are not likely to develop.
Again, it's been way too warm for too long. Last week the Glade Top was absolutely
beautiful. Not now.
The only remaining color is along Highway 341 in southern Baxter
County up along the high ridges. There is not much color left. There are still some
brilliant red trees here and there, but they will not last. You can enjoy some color on
individual trees, and a few spots on the ridge tops are not yet in peak. However, those
high daytime temperatures will kill the color.
There is still some color along Highway 14. The brilliant color that
was there last week has faded quite a bit. The heat of the past week just stopped the
color change completely. We have never seen weather this warm for so many days this time
If you have a trip planned for this weekend, drive 341, then visit
places like the National Trout Hatchery at the base of Norfork Dam, go shopping in
Mountain View, visit the Ozark Folk Center. While the foliage is gone at Blanchard Springs
Caverns, it's still a pretty place to visit, and if you have not done so, we highly
recommend their gift shop and a cave tour.
Call the Ozark Folk Center at 870-269-3851. When they are open
changes this time of year, so call to get the hours before you go. The Craft Village at
the Center is open Saturday, but not Sunday. Blanchard is open Saturday and Sunday. For
the most activities and shopping, get out on Saturday. Some places are still open on
Sunday, but not near as many as are open Saturday. The weather will be nice so you can
still have a good time.
Thanks to all of you who visited us once again this year.
Gary & Mary Cooley
2012 Glade Top Trail
Photos - Taken Oct. 21
14 photos of color on the
Glade Top Trail
Peak Photographs - Taken Oct. 20
14 photos showing
developing second peak colors - photos 15 through 28
2012 First Peak
Photographs - Taken Oct. 15
14 photos showing first peak
colors this year - photos 1 through 14
Friday Update: Area weather this week was way too warm for
good color development to continue. However, the cold front that was in the forecast was
right on schedule. While the turn stalled this week, it will really take off now. Color
will be at it's best from Wednesday through next weekend along Highways 341 and 14 in
southern Baxter County. The Glade Top Trail will be in peak by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Once peak develops it will last 5
to 7 days - IF we don't get a strong wind! We expect very nice color, but as always, only
time will tell! If you want to gamble on coming for the peak plan from Wednesday on, with
Friday and Saturday as the best days. Again, without the wind the peak could last longer.
But once leaves have peaked all it takes is about three hours of a good wind and the trees
will be bare.
This second peak will be where all
of the trees on a hillside are in full color. The exception will be that 20 percent of
trees which already peaked and leaves blew off.
General Conditions - Since
our last report we've run a little over 425 miles. The first peak is over, but much color
remains, and more is on the way. We had hard winds for two days last week and as a result
most of the first peak color was blown off. Fear not! That first peak comprised only about
20 percent of the total forest. The remaining 80 percent is looking good already, and a
cold front is on it's way for this weekend. The local forecast calls for warm weather all
week. This will stall the turn, but once that cold front moves in we'll see color ramp up
From now until the first few days of
November you'll see good color almost everywhere. Some spots are better than others. Oddly
enough we're seeing something strange this year. In past years color develops in low-lying
areas first, then progresses up to the ridge tops. Not this year! Color has formed on the
ridge tops, but has yet to turn much in low areas. Go figure! This is exactly why we
produce this report. There is no such thing as predicting much of anything regarding color
for more than a week in advance.
Peak Predictions - Good
news here. The last few days of October, and the first few days of November will be the
second peak - right on schedule. This second peak is when the hillsides are all in color.
And we predict it will be a good one - both along the Glade Top and in the Sylamore. The
Glade Top is going to peak first, as it is close to peak now. We think it will be in peak
about three days before the Sylamore. If you ever wanted proof positive that summer
drought has little effect on fall colors, this is the year for it!
Glade Top Trail - The best
color right now is along the Glade Top Trail. This is the furthest north we go for our
report. The Glade Top is normally a good look a week to ten days into the future for the
southern end of our reporting area. Another odd thing this year is that while most smoke
trees are long past peak with most being bare, there are several late-turning smokes that
are absolutely beautiful.
The main difference between the Glade Top
Trail and the Sylamore area is that the Glade Top has a much higher maple tree count, and
it has what some foresters consider the best stands of American smoke trees in America.
You'll see more intense yellows and oranges on the maples than you will in the Sylamore.
The smoke trees have the most intense pinkish orange you'll see on any tree. However, the
Sylamore has far more sweet gum trees along it's roads than the Glade Top. Sweet gums have
the most diverse fall color of any tree in our area.
Both the Glade Top and the Sylamore have
about equal amounts of black gum trees, which turn a neon-like scarlet. Both have about
equal amounts of mockernut hickory, which turns the same intense yellows that sugar maples
If you have not run the Glade Top before be
sure to visit our Glade Top Trail guide.
Sylamore Area - Highways
5, 341, and 14 in southern Baxter county all have good color right now, and will have
until leaves blow off the trees. Highway 14 between the little village of Big Flat and the
town of Yellville is very beautiful, but color will be even more dense next week.
The Sylamore is in between the first peak
and the second peak right now. Most of the grand color from the first peak blew off, but
there is quite a bit of new color now. Again, Highway 14 between Big Flat and Yellville is
gorgeous right now, and will get even better.
If you want that special "foliage over
water" scene, check out Gunner Pool and Mirror Lake at Blanchard Springs Caverns.
Gunner is Point 25 and Blanchard is Point 24 on our Sylamore Tour Guide.
These self-guided tours show points of interest, plus gas stations, restaurants and
diners, shopping, attractions, and a long list of other needs.
Why We Recommend
Looking at our map you
can see that Highway 341 is on the west side of our reporting area. It runs from Point 43
down to Point 28 on our map. This is a true Ozark Mountains road with a lot of twists and
turns. There are many side roads you can pull into, park, and get out for a beautiful up
close look at understory color. There are many wildflowers and beautiful grasses along the
way. Most importantly for fall color, there is the largest population of sweet and black
gum trees next to the road that we know of. Gum trees have the most diverse fall colors of
all trees. Nowhere else that we know of has this many gum trees.
There is less traffic on 341 than most other paved roads.
There is a wide-open overlook at Point 42. There are several hiking trails, and several
back country roads (well marked on our map) you can drive from off 341. Take 341 down to
Highway 14 and it's just a 10 minute drive to the Sylamore Creek National Scenic River
Corridor. There you will find Barkshed, Gunner Pool, and Blanchard Springs Caverns
Recreation Areas. If you want to see foliage over water, you can do so at all three
(Point 24 on our map) is, in our opinion, a must-see. It's far more than just a
cavern tour. Hiking trails, picnic spots, a historic site, a small lake with a water fall,
a large spring, a large bluff, bathrooms, paved roads, and gorgeous scenery make this one
of our favorite spots. The gift store at Blanchard Springs is well worth the visit and is
staffed by a friendly, helpful staff. Then, the town of Mountain View, Arkansas is a
scenic 11 mile run from Blanchard Springs, and the Ozark Folk Center is about 14 miles
away. It will take a whole day to visit Blanchard, the Folk Center, and Mountain View.
On the northern end of Highway 341 you'll find the Norfork
National Trout Hatchery that's open every day except Christmas, Norfork Dam Parks, Norfork
Lake, the North Fork River, and Dry Run Creek. At Dry Run you can watch trout leap the
waterfall, one of the few places in the world you'll see trout (not salmon) jumping
There are few buildings along Highway 341. Most of the road
is through primitive wilderness. But you're no more than 30 minutes from several
small towns having food, gas, shopping, stores, pharmacies, restrooms, etc. For even more
things to see and do, come back to Point 1 via Scenic Highway 5 through the little
villages of Calico Rock and Norfork. There's even an old railroad era historic park in
Calico, as well as a small railroad museum.
For complete details (our map even shows where you'll get
cell signal) visit:
Double Peak Occurring -
This area actually has two peaks a year. Why?
A wide variety of tree species, about 75 in
all, thrive throughout our reporting area. (This is why we don't have a "tree
leaf identification" section on this web site. There are too many that are too hard
to identify driving by in a car.) This diversity actually gives us two separate peaks due
to the time lag between species color turns. Hence the term "double peak".
The first peak occurs somewhere between
October 15 and October 20. During this period you'll see the most spectacular colors,
which occur on about 20% of the trees. And while these are in full color, the other 80%
are still green. Then, starting about the last few days of October those other 80% change
from green to peak color. This is when you see entire hills and mountains in full color,
the second peak.
The quality and beauty of the second peak
depends entirely on what happens with sunlight and weather conditions between the first
and second peak periods. For the last 15 years running we've seen awesome colors in
the first peak. This is because a cold front moves in with sunny days. And in almost all,
but not all, of those years, that cold front is followed by a warm front with cloud cover
that halts the color change. How long that warm front lingers, and how many cloudy days we
get is what determines the quality of the second peak. (Summer rainfall levels have
nothing to do with peak color generations.)
Think of it like a fireworks show. They
start with one or two spectacular rockets. Then they'll shoot off three or four at a time.
And then comes the finale. Now imagine a short intermission between the first sets rocket
of bursts and the finale. That is what happens here with fall color.