Where to See Foliage, Fall Colors Around Springfield

Through the daily hustle and bustle, it’s good to remember the simpler things in life. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fall, when the sight of a fine oak tree changing color can be as exhilarating as going to a football game – pro, college, high school, pee-wee. , etc. – go to a haunted house or taste pumpkin spice at a farmer’s market.

As the temperatures start to cool down and the colors start to kick in, it’s a good time to take a look at why this is happening and where you can go to find some of the best fall colors in and around Springfield. . Here’s what you need to know:

How do the leaves change color in the fall?

According to Mike Brunk, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Urban and Community Forestry Program, how and when fall colors appear depends on a variety of factors, such as temperature, sunlight, and weather. tree vigor.

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“The best color comes when it’s cold, but above freezing, followed by sunny days,” Brunk said. “It will bring out the fall color and once we start getting those 40 degrees, upper 30 degrees and sunny days, we’ll get some really good bright fall colors.”

When do those fall colors get to us?

Brunk said central Illinois’ best colors typically come in the 3rd week of October, with northern Illinois areas getting better colors earlier. Wet, rainy and cloudy conditions can extend this type of delay.

“If we have a really wet fall and it rains a little bit, it can extend it (later),” Brunk said. “If it’s a dry fall, it can shorten it.”

In Springfield, where can I go to see beautiful colors?

Let’s start with a simple one:

Washington Park (1501 South Grand Ave. W.): Home to massive trees and rolling terrain perfect for leisurely strolls and strenuous drives, it also has an inland road network designed for people who don’t want to get out of their cars.

“People just love driving through the park and taking in the beautiful scenery,” said Derek Harms, executive director of the Springfield Park District. “It’s well known, it’s a big park in the center of our city, it has a nice canopy, and it’s a good time of year to see the leaves change.”

carpenters park (#1 Carpenter Park Trail): For those interested in the sheer pleasure of nature viewing, the Carpenter Park nature preserve and trails maintain solid natural beauty at this time of year.

“There are a lot of hiking trails and nature trails that we’ve maintained well in this area, so people can actually hike through the woods,” Harms said. “It’s a really nice part of our community and our park system at this time of year.”

Lincoln Park (1601 N. Fifth St.): The south and west sides of the park are hilly and tree-lined and, similar to Washington Park, have interior road networks perfect for those with reduced mobility.

Lincoln Memorial Gardens (2301 East Lake Shore Drive): Home to great trails and walkways as well as wooden benches inscribed with quotes from Abe himself, this site retains picturesque fall foliage in a relaxing environment.

I want to travel outside the city to see the colors. Are there any good places to go?

Brunk pointed out several notable places where people could explore all the beauty of fall outside of the Springfield area:

Shawnee National Forest (Harrisburg, Southern Illinois): A good spot for later in the month when the colors descend south, one can explore the 289,000 acres of beauty in areas such as the Garden of the Gods, the upper loop of the Rim Rock Trail and the many wilderness areas that dot the terrain.

Allerton Park (Monticello): Closer to home, Allerton Park and Retreat Center contains 1,500 acres of woodland, plus walking trails, sculpture gardens and a 10-acre meadow on the grounds. There are also plenty of places to stay, such as a mansion with 17 rooms.

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Starved Rock State Park (Oglesby): One of Illinois’ most famous attractions, Starved Rock is home to abundant vegetation ranging from white and red oaks to maples and hickories. It even hosts an annual Fall Colors Weekend where one can register and receive guided hikes through the park’s many spectacular trails.

It all sounds good. What is the best time of day to see colors?

Brunk said shortly after sunrise and before sunset are the best times to see fall colors wherever they are.

“It really intensifies some of the great colors we see in the fall,” Brunk said. “My personal preference is to hike early or late in the day; hang out with loved ones, fuzzy friends if you have them, and hike to take advantage of the awnings we have there.”