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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/FLIP PUTTHOFF Trees along the Shaddox Hollow Trail on Wednesday at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area put on a dazzling autumn display.

It's been a dandy fall all right. Some say the most colorful in years.

A fall foliage tour is in order before the curtain drops on the autumn show. There's plenty of color to see around most neighborhoods, but a drive through the countryside makes a nice day trip.

Here are suggestions for seeing the display by car, on foot along a trail or by paddle on an Ozarks stream.

For a great fall foliage windshield tour, head south on Interstate 49. There's lots of fall beauty in the Boston Mountains between Fayetteville and Alma, about a 40-mile drive. But there's much more.

At Alma, head east on Interstate 49 to the U.S. 71 Scenic Byway. Travel old 71 north along this hilly, twisting two-lane route through the hill country.

Back when old 71 was the main highway between Fayetteville and Alma, the drive was white knuckle all the way. Traffic was heavy and travel was downright scary. Now, it's a relaxing route with gorgeous scenery and few vehicles.

A swell picnic stop along the way is Lake Fort Smith State Park, a couple miles east of old 71 north of Mountainburg.

For a loop that's two-lane the whole way, start in Siloam Springs and head south on Arkansas 59 to Van Buren, then swing over to Alma on I-40 and pick up old 71 there.

A drive down the Pig Trail Scenic Byway can't be beat, traveling southeast on Arkansas 16 then south on Arkansas 23 toward the Mulberry River. It's one of the prettiest drives in the land, with trees towering over the curving, hilly asphalt.

At Ozark, head west on I-40 to pick up old 71 or I-49 for the drive back north. Or head east over to Clarksville and drive north on Arkansas 21. That's a scenic highway all on its own.

Hike a trail, any trail, in the Ozarks and a show of color will unfold at every step. One little trail that stands out is the Shaddox Hollow Trail at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area.

That's because this 1.5-mile loop is routed so, in the late afternoon and evening, a lot of the trees are back lit as the sun gets low, creating stunning autumn scenes. Difficulty is moderate with one pretty good climb that might rate a 6 on the wheezer scale.

A fall foliage trek by water can't be beat. Beaver Lake is gorgeous this time of year. A drop-dead gorgeous bluff is just around the bend to the east from Rocky Branch park. Indian Bluff, some folks call it, but it's loaded with sweet gum and maple trees that make a canvas of fall color.

For a stream tour, the White River below Beaver Dam is ideal. There's always water thanks to releases from the Beaver Lake dam. Start at the access just below the dam and paddle three miles to the Bertrand access or seven miles to Houseman Access.

It's an easy drift when water is being released. The stream is lower when it's not. One shallow area is about a mile upstream of the Bertrand access. This shoal will require getting out of a canoe or kayak and wading maybe 20 yards to drag boats to deeper water. It's a good plan to wear waders or knee-high rubber boots to avoid wet feet.

Too bad fall color doesn't last a little longer, but there's still time to enjoy the show.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at fputthoff@nwadg.com

Sports on 11/06/2018

Print Headline: Not too late for fall foliage tour

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