The White Mountains, the Adirondacks and Acadia National Park might be top destinations for autumn leaf peepers but according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation — or anywhere in the world.
While Pennsylvania may not offer as many picture-perfect quaint New England-style towns or destinations as our northern neighbors, it does live up to its name - Penn’s Woods. There are many places to view the foliage in Pennsylvania’s vast forests including the local area.
If you are hoping to get out and catch the fall foliage this season, most of central and southern Pennsylvania is at peak color and the time to explore is now!
One of the best local destinations in south central Pennsylvania is the heavily wooded Route 233. This road offers travelers plenty of foliage and stops along the way. You can start your trip in Mont Alto heading east into Michaux State Forest. You’ll pass through Caledonia State Park and make your way north into Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Pack a lunch and a jacket and detour to Laurel Lake. The beaches are closed as of Sept. 30, but the park is open every day of the year. Enjoy lunch on the park benches with the colorful trees on the mountain as the backdrop. While you are there, take the 1.2 mile out-and-back hike up to Pole Steeple Vista for a view of the foliage. Be sure to bring your camera! (Note: this trail is rated “moderate” difficulty.)
Should you decide to stay on Route 233 and cross the Cumberland Valley, you will eventually come to the 273-acre Colonel Denning State Park featuring a 3.5-acre man-made lake and plenty of hiking trails to view the foliage. The 1.5-mile Doubling Gap Nature Trail is rated “easy” and offers plenty of great scenery in the short loop. For those looking for a challenge, the Flat Rock Loop Trail, rated “hard”, is a 4.8-mile loop that rewards hikers with an excellent view from the top of Blue Mountain.
Pennsylvania has an abundance of other great locations for viewing fall foliage such as the Kinzua Bridge State Park in McKean County, the Pine Creek Gorge (also known as the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania”) in Tioga State Forest, and the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap on the New Jersey boarder.
The DCNR Pennsylvania Weekly Fall Foliage Report for the week of Oct. 28 – Nov. 3 mentions: The Cumberland/Franklin County service forester serving Michaux State Forest reported the region is at peak color. Maples are ablaze with yellows, oranges, and brilliant reds; while oaks have joined the display but are not fully changed. In terms of color progress, the Cumberland Valley is just behind South Mountain in Cumberland and Franklin counties. The full length of Route 233 from Pine Grove Furnace to Mont Alto is giving a wonderful show this week. District vista views currently shine with the colors of fall. For those on foot, Pole Steeple is a recommended hike to enjoy the best of the fall spectacle.