I don’t know about you, but fall is my favorite month in Pennsylvania. The weather is crisp, waterfalls are flowing, the changing leaves are some of the most colorful you’ll find anywhere in the northeast, and there are a ton of great fall festivals in PA and great road trips to see fall foliage around the state.
Unfortunately, this beautiful season is very short, and it can be difficult to figure out where to visit to maximize your leaf peeping. So, while I’m sure there are dozens, if not hundreds, more great destinations to view great fall colors, here are 10 of my favorite places to go for insanely awesome leaf peeping.
The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon
There might be no better destination for fall colors than the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. Known officially as Pine Creek Gorge, the PA Grand Canyon offers miles and miles of forested trails, many beautiful waterfalls, and great observation platforms that anyone can visit.
To see the fall colors, head to Leonard Harrison State Park or Colton Point State Park and check out their observation decks and the trails that lead down to the bottom of the gorge from both. Another great option is a walk or bike along the Pine Creek Rail Trail along the creek at the bottom of the gorge.
Ricketts Glen State Park
Pennsylvania’s best destination for waterfall lovers is at its best during the fall foliage season. Not only are the waterfalls generally flowing well thanks to the early fall rain, but the leaves are breathtaking, and the crowds, at least during the week, are minimal.
In my opinion, the Falls Trail in Ricketts Glen State Park, which takes you past the park’s 23 named waterfalls, is the best hike in the entire state. And, visiting the fall foliage season gives you a chance to not only spend time on the trail, but to also drive through some of the most beautiful roads in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Governor Dick Observation Tower
Located just outside of Mount Gretna, in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, is the Park at Governor Hill. And, at the top of the hill, surrounded by thick second-growth forest is the Governor Dick Observation Tower.
The observation tower atop Governor Dick reaches only 66 feet into the sky, but that’s enough to give you a bird’s eye view in nearly every direction. From here, you can see thousands of trees in five different Pennsylvania Dutch Country counties. The 3-mile roundtrip hike through the park makes for a great and relatively easy hike through the woods.
Marie Antoinette Overlook
Located along Route 6 in Bradford County, the Marie Antoinette Overlook is one of the most scenic you’ll find anywhere in Pennsylvania. The view overlooks a bend in the Susquehanna River that once was the site of French Azilum, one of Pennsylvania’s most interesting and least-known historical sites.
History aside, however, the view from this overlook is quite expansive and is definitely breathtaking when fall foliage is at its peak.
Ohiopyle State Park
There’s no doubt that Ohiopyle State Park is beautiful any season of the year, but it comes alive during autumn. The parks many forested trails and hidden waterfalls lend themselves to amazing autumn scenes. However, the fall colors here are simply breathtaking and make the entire park look much more beautiful than it does any other time of the year.
In addition to the park, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, which sits just outside of the park’s boundaries is equally stunning amidst the beautiful colors of fall in Pennsylvania.
Bowman’s Hill Tower
Located along the Delaware River near New Hope in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is Bowman’s Hill Tower. Perched on a hilltop used by George Washington’s troops before his famous crossing of the Delaware River, Bowman’s Hill Tower offers an amazing view of the Delaware River Valley in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The tower was built in 1929 and has 360-degree views that can stretch up to 14 miles on a clear day. The forested hills in the area provide an amazing backdrop and make this observation tower an amazing place to visit during peak fall colors in Pennsylvania.
The small Carbon County borough of Jim Thorpe is a popular destination all year long, but really comes alive during fall foliage season. The borough hosts Fall Foliage Weekends the first three weekends of October each year, which bring thousands of people to the downtown area of Jim Thorpe.
However, outside of the borough, the foliage is even more stunning with places like Glen Onoko, Lehigh Gorge State Park, and Hickory Run State Park being very popular destinations for hiking and leaf peeping.
You might think of Raystown Lake as a summer destination, but since almost the entire lake is surrounded by forest, that makes this area an ideal spot for fall foliage.
Lake cruises leave from both Seven Points Marina and Lake Raystown Resort until at least mid-October and give visitors a chance to see the beautiful lake at water level.
Another great option is to visit the many overlooks along Raystown Lake. My personal favorite view is from Hawn’s Overlook near the lake’s northern end, which is pictured above. However, the views from almost anywhere are quite stunning.
At one point in time, Kinzua Bridge was the world’s longest and tallest bridge. However, while it no longer holds that title, it’s still impressive. After a tornado destroyed 60% of the bridge in 2003, the bridge was changed to an overlook and reopened for visitors in 2011.
Today, the bridge provides an amazing view of the Kinzua Valley in McKean County, Pennsylvania. Peering down, you can still see the twisted remains of the rest of the bridge on the ground below.
Jack’s Mountain Overlook
The view from the top of Jack’s Mountain in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, gives leaf peepers the chance to see into two different valleys. The most scenic of these is Big Valley, where farmland and Amish communities are the big draw. If you visit on a clear day, you can see several miles across the valley to the forested hills on the far side and even into Centre County.
Once you’ve soaked in the view, head down the mountain into Big Valley and check out Mifflin County’s unique Amish community.
What’s your favorite fall foliage destination in Pennsylvania? Let me know in the comments section below.