With this year's killing freeze in late April and extreme summer drought, fall colors are expected to be below average this season.
Nevertheless, Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois feature plenty of backroads and trails for viewing fall foliage. If you don't want to travel far, Trail of Tears State Park north of Cape Girardeau is an easy choice for leaf-watching.
It's hard to beat the park's Mississippi River overlook:
The view from Ridge Road isn't too shabby either:
(That's Bald Knob Cross in the distance)
However, the best foliage is along the Sheppard Point Trail, a two-mile loop that meanders above the river. I took these photos two years ago, on November 5, 2005, when the foliage was at its peak:
(The trail features its own river overlooks)
From downtown Cape Girardeau, take Highway 177 north for roughly 11 miles. At the junction with Route V, turn right twice to reach the entrance gate on Moccasin Springs Road. The visitor center is just ahead on the left. Continue on this road to reach the trailhead for the Sheppard Point Trail. (See Google map)