On the edge of the fast-approaching fall foliage season, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s official tourism website, visitPA.com, published its “10 Amazing Places to View Fall Foliage in PA,” complete with a “Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip ” for each place.
Here is a look at that list, enhanced with a related tip for Marcus Schneck, PennLive’s resident fall-foliage expert who has been covering all aspects of fall in Pennsylvania for many years.
— Pine Creek Gorge, Wellsboro, also is known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. It is about 50 miles long, 1,450 feet deep and heavily forested. Leonard Harrison State Park on the east side of the gorge provides a commanding vista over the entire landscape, as do several overlooks on the west rim. Peak fall foliage usually arrives in early October.
“Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip” from the state: “The historic Pine Creek Rail Trail (along the bottom of the gorge) is a gem of the Pine Creek Gorge and offers a tremendous way to view fall foliage. Voted by USA Today as one of the ’10 great places to take a bike tour,’ this 62-mile plus long trail travels through the gorge for an up-close and personal look at foliage for hikers, bikers and equestrians.”
Marcus Schneck’s Tip: Check out the West Rim Road and Painter-Leetonia Road on the west side of the gorge for a less crowded driving tour that passes several overlooks.
— Big Pocono State Park, Tannersville, sits atop Camelback Mountain and offers breathtaking views by foot and by vehicle. Average peak fall foliage is mid-October.
Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip: “Ride the Pocono Express through charming Pocono Mountain towns and see scenery that changes with the seasons. These fall foliage train excursions are a wonderful way to celebrate autumn in the Poconos.”
Marcus Schneck’s Tip: Don’t miss the overlook at the park’s summit. It provides views across miles of forested landscape.
— Allegheny National Forest, Bradford, is rich in easy to challenging trails and roads through dense forests for fall-foliage viewing at all levels. Peak fall foliage is expected in early October.
Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip: “For a unique way to experience the awe-inspiring views of the Allegheny National Forest visit the Kinzua Sky Walk, a walk that extends out 624 feet into the Kinzua Gorge or float along the Allegheny River by boat, kayak, or canoe and sightsee along 107 miles of water trails.”
Marcus Schneck’s Tip: The Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Area in the Allegheny National Forest is the largest old-growth tract in the Pennsylvania.
— Oil Creek State Park, Oil City, lies in the heart of the Oil Heritage Region, birthplace of the first commercially successful oil well. It also is home to beautiful waterfalls and 52 miles of scenic hiking trails. Peak fall foliage occurs in mid-October.
Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip: “Bike along the shores of historic Oil Creek. Oil Creek Bike Trail stretches nearly 10 miles from the Drake Well Museum to the Petroleum Centre. Cruise along historic sites while embracing the many waterfalls surrounded by vivid fall colors.”
Marcus Schneck’s Tip: The Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad departs from the Perry Street Station in Titusville for a three-hour round-trip through Oil Creek State Park.
— Presque Isle State Park, Erie, sits on a 3,200-acre peninsula jutting out into Lake Erie. The shore of the peninsula and Erie to the southeast offers a unique view on fall foliage. The 14-mile Karl Boyes Multi-purpose National Recreation Trail is available for walking and bicycling, along with 14 other hiking trails. Fall foliage peak arrives in mid-October.
Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip: “For an offshore foliage experience, take advantage of the Lady Kate, a 65-foot Great Lakes vessel that ventures out onto the waters of Lake Erie for a 90-minute tour and an incredible view of the shoreline. Riders can relax while learning about the area’s ecology, history, nature and more with the boat’s knowledgeable guide.”
Marcus Schneck’s Tip: Try kayaking on the inland side and lagoons and bays of the peninsula.
— Great Allegheny Passage, Pittsburgh, is one the longest rail-trails in the eastern US The Laurel Highlands’ section of the Great Allegheny Passage is filled with scenic overlooks, viaducts and spectacular foliage. Peak foliage can be expected in mid-October.
Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip: “Not far away, visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater for stunning fall vistas. Fallingwater, known as one of the most influential houses of the 20th century, stretches over a 30-foot waterfall and offers spectacular views with its unique angles and large windows. In 2019, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.”
Marcus Schneck’s Tip: The Youghiogheny River Gorge is the centerpiece for Ohiopyle State Park, Ohiopyle. It offers some of the best whitewater in the eastern US as well as spectacular scenery.
— Three Rivers Heritage Trail, Pittsburgh, offers views of the city’s landscape and history along a trail noted as one of the best urban trail systems in the country. Mid-October is peak fall foliage.
Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip: “While in Pittsburgh, don’t miss a ride on the Duquesne or Monongahela Inclines to see the views from atop Mount Washington. Filled with observation decks that overlook the city and its countryside, this 400-foot hill is an excellent vantage point for foliage.”
Marcus Schneck’s Tip: Frick Park, known as “Pittsburgh’s woodland park,” is the largest park in the city. It offers a well-maintained network of trails.
— Rothrock State Forest, State College, is rich in parks, vistas, trails and drives through and to dramatic fall foliage areas. Look to mid-October for peak fall foliage.
Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip: “For a truly spectacular (and easily accessible) scenic viewpoint in Rothrock, visit the overlook atop Tussey Mountain along Route 26 at the Centre/Huntingdon County line. The view overlooks the State College area and several surrounding townships in Center County.”
Marcus Schneck’s Tip: Bear Meadows Natural Area, 4 miles south of Boalsburg, is 896 acres of black spruce, red spruce and balsam fir surrounding a fern wetland and large area of highbush blueberry. It’s a National Natural Landmark.
— Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, 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 reenactments, monuments, memorials, and true history. Gettysburg offers guests a glimpse into our nation’s past all year and provides optimal trekking treasures in the fall.” Fall foliage peak occurs in mid to late October.
Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip: “Tour the battlefield on horseback for a unique look at the autumn trees with guided tours from Hickory Hollow Horse Farm. Visitors can enjoy one- to two-hour guided trail rides through the battlefield grounds complete with knowledgeable guides to point out little-known facts and tucked away scenic spots that can only be found on horseback.”
Marcus Schneck’s Tip: Built in 1854, Sachs Covered Bridge across Marsh Creek provides an inspiring foreground for fall foliage photos.
— Washington Crossing Historic Park, Washington Crossing, marks the spot where in 1776 General George Washington and his Continental army crossed the Delaware River in the frigid cold of winter. With historic sites, wildflower areas and nature trails, it’s an excellent place to discover the October foliage of Bucks County in suburban Philadelphia. Peak fall foliage can be expected in mid to late October.
Fall Foliage Insider’s Tip: “Bowman’s Hill Tower at the Washington Crossing Historic Park is 125 feet tall and offers a 14-mile view of scenic Bucks County.”
Marcus Schneck’s Tip: The tree- and specialty shop-lined streets of New Hope are just a few miles upriver of Washington Crossing Historic Park.