When fall arrives in Pennsylvania, shades of orange, gold, and red in endless variations blanket the state’s leafy forests, rewarding the senses and provoking thoughts of crisp air, warm sweaters, and hot cocoa. Whether you prefer to walk, bike, or ride through the beauty, here are some ways to experience the season’s vibrant colors.
The 36-mile Longhouse National Scenic Byway winds its way through the Allegheny National Forest, passing impressive rock outcroppings and the Allegheny Reservoir shoreline. Stop and stretch your legs at several overlooks, all of which offer a bird’s eye view of spectacular foliage.
Spot elk and other wildlife on the Elk Scenic Drive, a 127-mile route that winds through the Pennsylvania Wilds. Stop at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, just off Route 555, to learn more about the majestic creatures.
Unobstructed panoramas of the fall-flora-framed Pittsburgh skyline await at the end of the 3-mile Grand View Scenic Byway, which takes visitors to the top of Mt. Washington. View-seekers can also take the historic Monongahela and Duquesne inclines to the summit.
The 68-mile Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway is dotted with popular hiking and biking trails and iconic stops, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s waterfall-perched Fallingwater and the lush Ohiopyle State Park.
Hiking & Biking Trails
While Wellsboro’s Pine Creek Gorge is grand any time of year, September and October are an especially magical time to visit. Peer down the canyon from one of several viewing points or hike to the bottom to be surrounded by a vibrant leafy paradise.
The Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile rail trail between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Maryland, is the ultimate hiking and biking route. The smooth path passes many stop-worthy Pennsylvania towns, including Meyersdale, home to the picturesque Keystone and Salisbury viaducts, and Rockwood, where travelers will find charming bed and breakfasts and family-owned restaurants.
Hiking trails at Worlds End State Park in Upstate PA supply terrific views of the area’s forests. The 3.25-mile Worlds End Trail takes ramblers through towering hemlock and hardwood trees and up a steep mountainside to an overlook featuring breathtaking views of the park’s beach and surrounding woodlands.
Peddle the tree-lined Capital Area Greenbelt in Harrisburg to experience the peaceful side of Pennsylvania’s capital. The more than 20-mile pathway cruises by the Susquehanna River and several picnic areas and gardens.
The McConnells Mill Covered Bridge, a National Historic Landmark in New Castle, is even more impressive when framed with golden deciduous trees. Hike the 2-mile Kildoo Trail at McConnells Mill State Park for a lovely walk along Slippery Rock Creek to the covered bridge.
Bucks County’s countryside turns varying tones of gold in September and October. Watch the striking scenery slide by on the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad in New Hope; narrated one-hour excursions are available.
Colebrookdale Railroad in Boyertown offers two-hour Autumn Splendor excursions from mid-October through November. Savor the rich fragrances of fall in southeast Pennsylvania’s Secret Valley from 1920s-era, open-window coaches while you snack on treats inspired by the season.
Book a fall-foliage ride on the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad from early to mid-October to see Pennsylvania’s historic oil country sparkle with autumn magnificence. Stops include Drake Well Park and Oil Creek State Park, where the first successful oil well was drilled in 1859.
Other Ways to See Fall Foliage in PA
Don’t miss the Kinzua Sky Walk in Mount Jewett, which towers more than 300 feet above the forest floor. The glass platform at the end of the 600-foot walkway allows visitors to peer down at the color-changing landscape below.
The best way to experience Raystown Lake’s autumn-kissed shoreline is from the water; board The Princess at Seven Points Marina for a two-hour fall-foliage sightseeing cruise.
Spot birds of prey during their annual fall migration at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, a 2,600-acre wildlife sanctuary in Kempton. Scenic overlooks provide dramatic views of the area; about 18,000 raptors fly through the sanctuary between mid-August and mid-December.