Awesome spots to see fall's foliage in Pennsylvania
It's one of the best things about living in Western Pennsylvania: A front seat to fall's beautiful colors.
Lucky for us, a roadtrip tour of the season's best and brightest is just a car ride away. Grab a spouse, loved one or friend (or all three if that's your case) and ride around the state for the autumn magic. (Plus, you'll have a perfect excuse to stop for some amazing eats along the way.) Here's some of our favorite spots.
Pine Creek Gorge (Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania)
Almost 50 miles long and 1,000 feet deep, Pine Creek Gorge features a brilliant fall display of deep reds, yellows and purples in early October. Some of the best full views of the canyon can be found at Leonard Harrison or Colton Point State Park. The historic Pine Creek Rail Trail, voted by USA Today as one of the "10 great places to take a bike tour," offers a tremendous way to view fall foliage.
Allegheny National Forest
Scenic drives through the hardwood forests of McKean County in northern Pennsylvania provide spectacular fall foliage touring. In the Allegheny National Forest, visitors can hike hundreds of acres of trailways, ranging from short birding trails to the challenging North Country Trail, or float along the Allegheny River by boat, kayak or canoe and sight-see along 27 miles of water trails. The region offers a variety of scenic vistas, mountains, brilliant colors and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Big Pocono State Park, located at the top of Camelback Mountain in the Pocono Mountains region, is home to breathtaking views in the fall season by foot or by car. The best place for viewing foliage is at the park's summit, where a scenic overlook offers views for miles from the popular Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and beyond. Try an offshore foliage paddling experience with guided foliage river tours. Experienced guides take visitors along the Delaware River in kayaks for a leisurely paddle to experience the fall colors mirrored on the river's surface.
The 36-mile-long Armstrong Trail is located on the former Allegheny Valley Railroad corridor along the eastern bank of the Allegheny River in Armstrong and Clarion counties. The picturesque trail links towns such as Ford City, Kittanning and East Brady, and is a great place to bicycle, walk, jog, cross-country ski, watch birds, geocache, exercise or take in the splendor of autumn. The trail is rich with history, from native Americans to river travel to iron production to the railroads. Remnants of villages, iron furnaces, coke ovens and train stations can be found along the trail. A train turntable, tunnel and coaling tower still stand.
Oil Heritage Region
Known as the birthplace of the first commercially successful oil well, this 50-mile area in the heart of the Great Lakes Region also is a prime spot to experience the bright shades of yellow, red and orange lining the hillsides. With Victorian towns, outstanding historical artifacts, scenic views and cultural traditions, the Oil Heritage Region displays its original oil country charm each autumn. The region offers three recreational trails and the scenic Oil Creek State Park's numerous day-hike trails. Ride an open-air car aboard the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad to view the season's exquisite colors.
Presque Isle State Park
Pennsylvania's Great Lakes Region displays many beautiful autumn colors along the shore of Lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park. Discover the magnificence of this 3,200-acre peninsula as it curls into the lake, offering a wide variety of fall experiences. Home to more than 4 million visitors each year, Presque Isle offers the leisurely 14-mile Karl Boyes Multi-purpose National Recreation Trail for walkers and bicyclists interested in leaf sightseeing along the bay. There also are 11 miles of hiking trails throughout the park.
Try the "Lady Kate," a 65-foot vessel that ventures out onto the waters of Lake Erie for a 90-minute tour and an incredible view of the shoreline.
For those exploring the scenic Laurel Highlands region in search of autumn colors, there's perhaps nowhere better to do so than on a biking excursion along the Great Allegheny Passage. Known as the longest rail-trail in the east, the Laurel Highlands section of the Great Allegheny Passage is filled with scenic overlooks, viaducts and plenty of spectacular foliage.
Not far away is Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater for stunning fall vistas.
Pittsburgh and its countryside
The beautiful skyline and the picturesque countryside display incredible colors during the season. While in Pittsburgh, don't miss a ride on the Duquesne or Monongahela inclines to see the views from atop Mt. Washington. Filled with observation decks that overlook the city and its countryside, this 450-foot hill is an excellent vantage point for foliage.
In the heart of the Alleghenies region, the parks and vistas that encompass Rothrock State Forest provide dramatic foliage areas that can be accessed in a variety of ways. Mountain bike along the trails surrounding the majestic Seven Mountains area, hike numerous trails throughout the forest or explore from the lowest points from a boat on Raystown Lake. All offer grand foliage viewing experiences . For a truly spectacular (and easily accessible) scenic viewpoint in Rothrock, visit the overlook atop Tussey Mountain along Route 26. The view overlooks the State College area.
Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg National Military Park is a must-see for any fall excursion, providing the perfect scenic backdrop for visitors experiencing this historic battlefield. Explore the sights and sounds of battlefield re-enactments, monuments, memorials and true history. Gettysburg offers guests a part of the nation's past all year but provides optimal trekking treasures in the fall . Tour the battlefield on horseback for a unique look at the autumn trees with guided tours from Hickory Hollow Horse Farm.
Washington Crossing Historic Park
(Washington Crossing Historic Park)
In 1776, Gen. George Washington and his army crossed the Delaware River during a frigid winter. At that site today is Washington Crossing Historic Park, an interpretive center that not only tells the story of Washington's famous crossing, but also preserves the early 19th-century history of Taylorsville, where the crossing of the Delaware occurred. With historic sites, wildflower areas and nature trails, it's also an excellent place to discover the October foliage of Bucks County in suburban Philadelphia. Bowman's Hill Tower at the Washington Crossing Historic Park is 125 feet tall and offers a 14-mile view of scenic Bucks County. Guests are sure to enjoy this excellent bird's-eye view atop a grand observation tower that offers an expansive view of the Delaware River area and the foliage surrounding the region in October.