Leaf watchers

Daniel Sechtin, WBIR 6:49 AM State

KNOXVILLE - Peak leaf watching season is very, very close for East Tennessee! Beautiful colors started to pop up in the Smokies weeks ago, and now that color is spreading and beginning to paint the mountains beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow.

Experts predicted leaves would begin showing peak colors as early as this weekend, and it's looking to be true for the higher elevations.

If you're looking for some places to leaf watch, we spoke to some local hiking experts and got their must-see hiking spots to make the most of fall. Here's what they had to say:

Fall on the water

"If you want the chance to see fall color right along the water, there are wonderful trails at Concord Island in West Knox County."

Close to the city

"Fort Dickerson is literally downtown and has some wonderful trails as well as a Civil War fort right in the heart of downtown."

Rewarding views

"Sharp's Ridge is a reward hike, House Mountain is a reward hike, Seven Islands State Birding Park is great for hiking as well."

Beginner hikes

"Baker Creek preserve has a nice one mile hike you can do to get comfortable. Also, Suttree park has a wonderful little loop downtown."

Expert hikes

"House mountain is a 900-foot elevation gain almost like the Smokies with some unique vegetation at the top. IC King Park has nice topography and great woods to look at. Some of the trails at Ijams and the South Urban Loop have interesting features and challenging routes."

Bird watching

"Sharp's ridge is a good spot. Seven Islands State park is obviously really good. Then some smaller places like Melton Hill Lake Park is a good place because you get the combination of forest, water and open grasslands so you get a diverse group of birds to look at."

Mac's top pick

"I like quiet places with big trees and this time of the year if you wanna see fall colors, right here at Sharp's Ridge is a good place, House mountain is a great place and a new park Baker Creek has a new trail right up at the top with a 360 degree view called Pappy's Point."

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