Living near Puget Sound, it’s sometimes hard for South Sound residents to gauge the brilliance of fall colors in the nearby mountains.
Don’t fret, there are a number of websites and hot lines that provide up-to-date information. While leaves in the region are just starting to change colors, these information sources are up and running.
This week’s report on the U.S. Forest Service’s fall foliage hot line focuses on the Umatilla National Forest east of Walla Walla.
Heading up the Tucannon River drainage, visitors can expect to see Western larch trees turning a bright yellow before they drop their needles. At ground level, mountain maple, alder, serviceberry and snowberry will turn crimson red and dusky brown.
The current Weather.com fall foliage map has no reports for Washington. It reports that colors are still patchy in the Glacier National Park area as well as around Yellowstone National Park.
If you’re looking for some places to explore while leaf peeping, here are three choices that make for good day-trips.
1This will take you to the southern edge of Mount Rainier National Park and through parts of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Take state Route 7 through Ashford, and then turn south on Kernahan Road. This will become Skate Creek Road u can head east on U.S. Highway 12 to the White Pass area, or head home on U.S. 12 and state Route 7 through Morton.
Capitol State Forest
2Outside of Olympia, the nearly 575 miles of roads running through the 91,650-acre forest offer plenty of foliage options, just create your own loop. Be aware that some roads might be closed and there are plenty of other users in tss off state Route 8 about 41/2 miles west of the U.S. Highway 101 exit.
3Take state Route 119 north from Hoodsport to the intersection with Forest Road 24. Go right, heading east on Forest Road 24, until you intersect with U.S. 101. You can return home via Hoodsport or north via the Hood of Olympic National Forest and Lake Cushman State Park.
Fall foliage updates
Before leaving on a foliage-viewing trip, here are some resources to help you get the most up-to-date color status.
Washington fall foliage hot line: 800-354-4595. Press No. 6 for updates on colors in national forests in Washington and Oregon.
U.S. Forest Service map: fs.fed.us/fallcolors/2012/index.shtml.
Weather.com foliage maps: weather.com/outlook/driving/fallfoliage/regionindex/northwest.