Fall is a very popular time to visit East Texas. It’s one of the best places in Texas to see fall colors. We have put together a regional guide of the best places to see fall colors in the area. Feel free to print them off and share them with your businesses or you can always send customers to VisitTyler.com.
This 2-Hour Drive Through Texas Is The Best Way To See This Year’s Fall Colors
Texas is full of breathtaking fall foliage, but experiencing most of it requires hikes that can be long and strenuous. For those who would rather sit back, relax, and take in the views from behind the wheel (perhaps with a pumpkin spice latte in hand?), this two-hour drive is ideal.
Of course, you can get out and explore at any of the stops if you’re feeling up to it, but the scenery can be enjoyed just as well in the car. Click here for a Google Map with exact addresses + directions to each destination.
As summer gives way to fall and the temperatures begin to change, so do the colors of scenic East Texas.
Known as the Piney Woods region, the hardwood trees put on a display of magnificent colors. Painted across a backdrop of evergreen pines, fall foliage ranges from light yellow shades of the Oak trees to deep oranges of the Sweet Gums to the rich, vibrant reds of the Maple trees.
Natural beauty is undoubtedly at its peak during the cooler months, across lakes, hiking trails, farms, rose gardens, and wildlife. The rural roadsides come alive with pumpkin patches, flower stands filled with mums, and the smell of fresh-cut hay.
Take advantage of autumn and plan a scenic drive to Tyler, Texas with amazing views and unique things to
do along the way. Tyler is an excellent starting or ending point for fall day trips in East Texas.
In the Winnsboro area, three routes are part of the Autumn Trails Tour: southeast, south and southeast of the city. Contact the Winnsboro Autumn Trails Association for more information.
Nacogdoches offers the Deep East Texas Fall Foliage Trail, looping from Nacogdoches thru Alto, Crockett, Livingston, Newton, Hemphill, San Augustine and Shelbyville. Download the trail map from the Nacogdoches Visitors Bureau (pdf).
The Athens tourism department coordinates the 55-mile scenic Athens Self-guided Driving Trail. It begins and ends at the Athens Partnership Center, at 201 W. Corsicana Street in Athens. The Athens scenic driving tour meanders along the back roads of Henderson County to view fall foliage at several attractions along the way such as NY-TX Zipline Adventures, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, Lake Athens, East Texas Arboretum, and Tara Vineyard & Winery.
Another option for visitors is to start their tour in Palestine and journey on the 145-mile Pineywoods Autumn Trail.
And if you are touring southwest Texas, fall color abounds in the Guadalupe National Park. The fall colors season in the Park typically begins in mid-October and continues through mid-November. To accommodate as many fall color visitors, please consider carpooling when possible; parking is first-come, first-serve and limited in McKittrick Canyon, Pine Springs, and Frijole Ranch. Current Guadalupe Fall Colors Report.
If You Start Your Fall Foliage Tour in Tyler
You can start your East Texas foliage tour anywhere, from Winnsboro to Natchitoches, from Jefferson to Jasper, or anywhere else, and enjoy a scenic journey!
However, Tyler is an excellent, central starting point for those taking day trips, and with a large selection of hotels and restaurants, is a great place to spend relaxing evenings after a day on the roads.
Tyler is the Rose Capital of America, the home of the nation’s largest municipal rose garden. Tyler Rose Garden features more than just 40,000 rose bushes, including a wooded area with towering trees, and numerous Japanese Maples that sport bright fall foliage. The 2022 Texas Rose Festival is scheduled for mid-October.
Tyler’s Azalea National Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, comprises about 950 homes built in the first half of the 20th century, with a large concentration of structures from the 1930s when the oil boom had a huge economic impact on Tyler.
The site of Tyler’s popular Azalea Trails in the spring, the area is always worth a drive, or a walking tour, even in the fall.
Large numbers of colorful hardwood trees and Japanese Magnolias dot the Tyler historic district.
Driving North From Tyler to View Fall Foliage
A popular drive to the north is along Texas Highway 14, which takes you by Tyler State Park. The park is built around a lake and provides overnight camping venues, mountain biking, picnicking, hiking, and more.
In the fall, Tyler State Park turns into a color palette of orange, yellow, and reds!
Continuing the drive along Highway 14 from Tyler State Park you arrive at the town of Hawkins.
From there a connection with Highway 2869 takes you to Winnsboro, offering many choices for fall foliage viewing.
Three routes near Winnsboro are part of the Autumn Trails Tour; contact the Winnsboro Autumn Trails Association for more information.
Other East Texas parks are also great foliage locations. Daingerfield State Park has the popular Rustling Leaves Nature Trail, camping, fishing, hiking, and more, all nestled in colorful groups of maples, gums, and oaks.
The City of Pittsburg is the county seat of Camp County, Texas, near Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, and is located between Gilmer and Mount Pleasant on U.S. 271, and between Winnsboro and Daingerfield on Texas Highway 11.
One of the many attractions in this area is the Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, lovely any time of the year, and spectacular in the fall.
Gladewater is the antique capitol of East Texas, located on US 271 and historic US Highway 80, about 30 minutes north of Tyler, and close to many country roads with bright fall colors. It is situated west of Longview, east of Big Sandy, and north of Kilgore.
Fall Foliage Trips to the South of Tyler
Love’s Lookout offers a beautiful 30-mile vista of fall colors to the East, located between Jacksonville and Tyler on U.S. 69 … great picnic location, with modern restroom facilities.
Jacksonville lies just to the south of Love’s Lookout on U.S. 69, and features a beautiful drive around Lake Jacksonville.
The Deep East Texas Fall Foliage Trail takes visitors on a scenic drive from Nacogdoches thru Alto, Crockett, Livingston, Newton, Hemphill, San Augustine and Shelbyville. Download the map from the Nacogdoches Visitors Bureau (PDF)
Ride the Texas State Railroad from Rusk to Palestine, and back, in fall. This historic railroad offers steam train excursions through 25 miles of scenic piney woods and colorful hardwood creek bottoms amidst a backdrop of rolling hills, nature and wildlife. A great fall foliage adventure! And don’t miss the Pumpkin Patch Express rides in October.
Another popular fall foliage destination is the Angelina and Sabine National Forests.
Venturing West of Tyler to Enjoy Fall Foliage
The City of Athens is about 37 miles west of downtown Tyler on Highway 31.
The Athens Scenic Driving Tour is a 55-mile self-guided driving trail across the back roads of Henderson County. Visitors enjoy the fall foliage at several attractions along the way such as NY-TX Zipline Adventures, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, Lake Athens, East Texas Arboretum, and Tara Vineyard & Winery. The trail begins and ends at the Athens Partnership Center, at 201 W. Corsicana Street in Athens.
The drive from Tyler west along Texas State Highway 64 and then Highway 279 to Edom is always a pleasant trip. This quaint village is surrounded by lovely countryside scenes and forests … plus festivals, potters, artists, garden centers, restaurants, and eclectic shopping. Don’t miss Blue Moon Gardens … and lunch at The Shed is always a treat!
Fall Foliage Trips East of Tyler
Highway 64 east from Tyler to Henderson is an easy trip, through forest and rolling ranch lands.
Visit Joinerville and see firsthand where the famous East Texas Oil Field was discovered, and enjoy the brilliant fall colors on the area’s backroads and countryside.
In the area, don’t miss a photo-op in the tiny village of Uncertain, steamboat rides, and the brilliant fall colors of the cypress trees on Caddo Lake.
BONUS: Fall Foliage Driving Routes
1. Hwy 19 S from Palestine to Crockett- 35.3 miles
- See some of the oldest architecture in the state, second only to Galveston, in Historic Downtown Palestine, and don’t forget to visit the Museum for East Texas Culture!
- Visit Houston County, the first county established under the Republic of Texas.
- Numerous photo opportunities along this stretch of highway between Palestine and Crockett.
- Davey Dogwood Park- Palestine, Texas- The rolling hills of Davey Dogwood Park, located at 210 North Link St., off North Loop 256 in Palestine, are beautiful any time of year. Spring and fall offer amazing colors for picnics, photo shoots, hiking, or just a drive.
2. Hwy 21 E from Crockett to Nacogdoches, along the El Camino Real- 59.6 miles
- Visit Mission Tejas State Park and the Caddo Indian Mounds State Historic Site along the way. Visit the oldest county in Texas and the oldest town in Texas all in one day, or make it a weekend trip and really experience East Texas history! Both sites will offer spectacular photo opportunities.
3. Hwy 43 N from Henderson to Uncertain- 62.4 miles
- This stretch of highway typically yields amazing fall color every year. The rolling hills and open meadows allow for excellent photo opportunities. Visit the Depot Museum in Henderson and the only natural lake in Texas- Caddo Lake, which can be accessed from Uncertain.
- See the “Tomato Capital of the World”- Jacksonville, Texas! Stop by Love’s LookoutPark and get a 30-mile glimpse of the colorful countryside.
- See the Nation’s longest footbridge, visit the Texas State Railroad, and Jim Hogg State Park in Rusk Texas.
5. Traveling East out of Tyler on Hwy 31 to Kilgore- 26.3 miles
- Visit the East Texas Oil Museum and the World’s Richest Acre in Kilgore.
6. Hwy 19 N from Palestine to Athens- 34.7 miles
- Numerous photo opportunities along a stretch of highway yields vibrant fall color.
- Visit the East Texas Arboretum and the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
- Take the extended scenic route- Piney Woods Autumn Trail
7. Texas State Railroad- Palestine/Rusk– 30.4 miles
- One of the best ways to enjoy the East Texas color show is to climb aboard the Texas State Railroad, which offers a historic ride on restored vintage steam or diesel trains. The service offers numerous excursions including a route winding between the Palestine and Rusk Depots. Find out more about the Texas State Railroad!
8. HWY 14 N from Tyler to Winnsboro- 49.2 miles
- Hwy 14 N traveling from Tyler all the way to Winnsboro is a great stretch of highway to travel chasing fall colors. The rolling hills and open hays afford several stops with great views of reds, dark burgundy, deep golds, and yellow dotted with shades of green. Please note a large number of dairies along the highway.
9. HWY 16 E from Lindale to Winona- 15.5 miles
- Hwy 16 traveling East from Lindale to Winona and onto Highway 271. Lots of photo opportunities of barns, horses, and exotic animals. There are several bodies of water and creeks along the way.
10. Hwy 84 E from Palestine to Mt Enterprise- 60.2 miles
- HWY 84 from Palestine to Mt. Enterprise is dappled with numerous sweet gum trees, as well as other trees sure to turn eye-catching colors as the days move forward.
- Travel through several small communities along this stretch of highway, some of which are now ghost towns.
11. HWY 80 from Marhsall to Mineola- 68.5 miles
- Visit the Mineola Nature Preserve for incredible photo opportunities.
12. HWY 49 from Jefferson to Mt. Pleasant- 51.3 miles
- Visit Dangerfield State park along the way for exceptional views of one of Texas’ state parks during the fall.
- Jefferson’s historic home district is always a great place for photos, and with fall colors moving in the historic homes are adorned with natural color.
13. HWY 190 E from Livingston to Jasper- 60.4 miles
- Numerous photo opportunities. BA Steinhagen Lake typically offers beautiful views.
14. US 96 N from Jasper to San Augustine- 46 miles
- Travel between the Sabine National Forest and the Angelina National Forest for an opportunity to spot fall color nestled in among these mighty evergreen forests.