With a more Arizona-like dry and hot September, West Virginia fall foliage is rolling a little late through the Mountain State, but the welcome addition of sweater weather and campfire nights has sped up nature’s color wheel in the mountains. Here’s our High Five Friday picks for Five Fun Ways to Explore Fall Foliage this weekend. 

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, October 19, join 100,000 of your closest friends on the famous New River Gorge Bridge for the 40th annual Bridge Day. Watch hundreds of rappelers sliding down more than 800 feet of rope as well as BASE jumpers from around the world catapult, dive and hurl themselves off of the 876-foot-high bridge and parachute safely to the banks of the New River below while getting panoramic views of the amazing fall foliage in every direction. Enjoy changing fall colors from either on the Bridge or take a whitewater rafting trip on the Lower New River to get an up-close and personal look to the foliage and the endless wave of BASE jumpers. Don’t miss the festivities in Fayetteville that begins Friday with Taste of Bridge Day at Adventures on the Gorge, as well as the Bridge Day Chili Cook-Off.

Fall foliage season is rocking in Canaan Valley, the highest valley east of the Mississippi, with a Scenic Chairlift Ride that runs daily 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. through Sunday, Oct. 20 up to the peak at 4,280. You can ride the lift both ways, or get off at the top and hike the two miles back to base camp to see the mountain in full color. Note: Guests must wear close-toed shoes on the lift. Cost is $7, and $5 for seniors and juniors. Go online at

Sunday, October 20 is the last day of the world-famous fall Gauley release out of Summersville Dam. See fall foliage through the narrow Gauley River gorge by hitching a ride with one of the professional whitewater outfitters who run the Gauley River, which features more than 100 named rapids in about 26 miles. The Upper Gauley is a Top 10 whitewater run in the world, while the Lower Gauley provides plenty of heart-pounding action and gorgeous views on such rapids as Canyon Doors.

Sure you can just get a Swilled Dog cider at the WVU Stadium or in grocery stores around the state, but on Saturday you can make a dash for it. The cidery, located at 28 Pendleton County Industrial Park Road, Upper Tract, West Virginia is hosting its Swilled Fall Fest on Saturday, Oct. 19. The day begins with a Swilled Dog Dash 5K and 10K Run/Walk, and the fest includes axe throwing, apple pressing, live music from national bluegrass act Town Mountain and Jacob Paul Allen, pumpkins for sale, food by Meadowbrook Farm, jumbo bubbles and all things apple. Tickets are $5 advance, $10 at the gate with kids 12 and under free.

West Virginia has more than 30 rail-trails covering more than 375 miles. Pedal your way through foliage on the famous Greenbrier River Trail or the North Bend Rail Trail (the state’s two longest) or for great color right now the West Fork Rail Trail. You can also try the new rail trail still on the rail – the Buffalo Creek Recreational Trail in Clay County, that features 12 miles of rail that can be pedaled with special railbikes. Trips run 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m., Thursday through Monday. Cost is $25 or $15 for kids 12 and younger. Go online at http://buffalocreektrail.com/ and for rail-trail info go online at https://wvtourism.com/rail-trail-wv-biking/

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