Ash, Lead Naturalist
Fall Colors Hike!
Updated: Aug 29, 2020
Written By: Ashley Goldbeck
Fall is upon us. This is by far the best time of the year to get out and enjoy a hike! Between the comfy, sweatshirt-friendly weather, crisp air and beautiful colors, I could stay outdoors from sun up to sun down. Don’t you agree?!
Why The Change in Color?
There is argument that the color change is due to weather, lack of light, dropping of nighttime temperature. All of which play a role in the changing of the color. However, what most people don’t know is that the leaves on deciduous trees were actually this color all year long. That’s right, they were there, trying to let their true colors shine. But they were being covered up by the dominant green of their good friend Chlorophyll. Summer time just so happens to be chlorophyll’s time to shine due to all the sunshine and long, warm days. But as temperatures drop and the days get shorter, providing less light to the leaves, the chlorophyll begins to break down, revealing the strikingly beautiful fall colors beneath!
Once trees stop producing chlorophyll, it is usually the striking yellow and oranges that reveal themselves first. As the days get shorter and nights grow colder the veins connecting the leaves to trees start to close, trapping sugar in some of the leaves. This creates a beautiful variety of vibrant red colors in leaves. Some years colors are brighter than others. This is where weather comes into play. The brightest colors are seen when late summer is dry and autumn is filled with sunny days and cold nights.
Make it a family adventure!
Hike to the Willow Falls from the Nature Center or hit the South Trail at Kinnickinnic State Park to witness some of the most beautiful falls colors in the area. These are two of my absolute favorite hikes. Below are some pictures from last year that just might convince you to go, along with some other interesting information to get your wheels spinning.