While there is incredible fall foliage in all of Pennsylvania, there are few places that I love visiting more in autumn than the Laurel Highlands.
This three-county region in southwestern PA is a great outdoor destination throughout the year and is even home to some incredible history. However, there is no more beautiful time to explore this region than in the fall.
While it varies a bit throughout the area, the best time to visit the Laurel Highlands to see fall colors is usually the first and second weeks of October. However, even if you are a bit earlier or later than that, you can still see some great colors.
In fact, I’ve been able to find pockets of foliage in the region as early as mid-September and as late as early November. This varied season means that you can usually find some beautiful scenes for 6-8 weeks during the autumn.
So, without further ado, here are a few of my personal favorite spots to enjoy fall foliage in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.
There are many waterfalls in western PA, but there are few that I enjoy more than Cucumber Falls. Even better, in the autumn, this is an incredible spot to visit.
Cucumber Falls is one of several waterfalls located in Ohiopyle State Park and is one of the largest waterfalls in the region. In the fall, the trees above the waterfall come alive with color, making this one of the most beautiful spots in the park to visit (though not the only as you’ll see below).
Mount Davis is the highest point in Pennsylvania and is located at an elevation of 3,213 feet. Atop the hillside, a 50-foot observation tower offers views over the trees and into the surrounding hills.
From the top of the observation tower, the beauty of southern Somerset County and northwestern Maryland comes into full view, especially in the autumn when the colors from here can be spectacular.
Even if you don’t climb the fire tower, this is still a great spot from which to enjoy the beauty of the season.
Packsaddle Covered Bridge
Located in Somerset County, this bridge really comes alive in the autumn when the oranges and yellows of the trees surrounding the bridge add a lot of beauty to the area and stand out against the red color of the bridge and the flowing water below it.
The Natural Waterslides
The Natural Waterslides is one of the most popular spots to visit in Ohiopyle State Park. While this is mostly known as an area for swimming, during the fall, it’s also incredibly beautiful.
Located along Meadow Run, this section of the stream bed features a chute that has been carved directly into the sandstone. Surrounding this area, there is a large area of rocky shoreline that is perfect for enjoying this scenic spot. In the fall, this area is often strewn with colorful leaves.
At the top of the waterslides, a tree stretches over the stream and is often a brilliant yellow color in the autumn, which really makes this scene pop.
Beam Rocks is an overlook located near the Somerset County/Westmoreland County line in Forbes State Forest.
An easy half-mile trail leads from the parking area to this rock outcropping located on the edge of the hillside. This spot offers great views of this beautiful forest and especially comes alive in the fall.
Along the hike to the rocks, the forest surrounding the trail is also quite beautiful with the ferns and the trees contrasting nicely to create one of the most beautiful forested areas in the region.
Spanning the enter width of the Youghiogheny River, this powerful waterfall drops 15-20 feet in height. Adjacent to the waterfall, there are several viewing areas that offer incredible views of this beautiful waterfall.
For even more views, head to the opposite side of the river and follow the trails to more rustic viewing areas.
Linn Run State Park
Linn Run State Park is a 600-acre park near Ligonier, PA, and is a great place to enjoy fall foliage in the Laurel Highlands.
These two short trails offer the chance to not only see great fall foliage, but also some of the most beautiful spots in this great little park.
Great Allegheny Passage
The Great Allegheny Passage is a rail trail that extends 150 miles from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland. Along the way, this trail passes through some of the most isolated and beautiful spots in the Laurel Highlands.
The most scenic section, in my opinion, is from Connellsville to Confluence and passes through the aforementioned Ohiopyle State Park. However, nearly this entire trail is incredibly scenic and you can’t go wrong with wherever you bike or walk it during the fall foliage season.
Wolf Rocks is located in Forbes State Forets and provides a commanding view of the forests of Westmoreland County.
From the parking area, which is located only a short drive from Beam Rocks and Linn Run State Park, a four-mile loop trail winds its way through the forest towards this beautiful overlook, with the vista being located in the middle of the loop.
The trail to the rocks is somewhat rocky but is relatively flat and easy, so shouldn’t provide much difficulty for most visitors.
There are many beautiful roads to drive during the fall in the Laurel Highlands but few are more scenic than Kentuck Road.
While the whole road is beautiful, the three-quarter-mile stretch from Kentuck Knob to Ohiopyle Road is easily the most beautiful. Here, maples trees and their beautiful red leaves make for an incredible fall scene in the Laurel Highlands.
While it’s not a long drive, it’s beautiful enough and near enough to a few other places on this list that it’s definitely worth going a bit out of your way to see.
Covered Bridges in the Laurel Highlands
There are a total of 11 historic covered bridges in the Laurel Highlands (10 in Somerset County and one in Westmoreland County). While I mentioned one of them above, they are all great spots to visit during the fall foliage season.
The great part about the region’s covered bridges is that they are almost all located in rural and forested settings, where you can see them surrounded by the incredible colors of fall.
Barronvale Covered Bridge, which is pictured above, is just one of these great bridges.
Keystone State Park
Keystone State Park is located in the northwestern part of the region and is a great spot to visit to see fall foliage in the Laurel Highlands.
The park is home to eight miles of hiking trails, including a two-mile hike that encircles Keystone Lake. This trail is a great way to experience the beauty of this park and enjoy fall colors in the Laurel Highlands.
Of course, if you’d rather not hike, there are several spots along the lake where you can enjoy the beauty of the area from near your car.
Ohiopyle State Park doesn’t have many vistas, but one great one it does have is Baughman Rock.
Baughman Rock (which isn’t to be confused with a similarly named outcropping on Mount Davis) offers a commanding view over the Youghiogheny Valley around the park. Because of the way it faces, this is an especially good spot to visit for sunrise.
You can reach this spot via a hiking trail from the town of Ohiopyle or drive to within a few yards of this beautiful vista.
Laurel Hill State Park
Laurel Hill State Park is probably best known for its large collection of historical buildings, a feature that makes it one of the most historic state parks in PA. However, if you’re looking for the best places to see fall foliage in the Laurel Highlands, this is definitely a spot that can’t be missed.
This 4,000-acre park is home to a large lake and 15 miles of hiking trails, so there are a lot of places to head to check out the autumn colors.
In my opinion, one of the best hiking destinations in the park is the historic Jones Mill Dam. This spot not only features a beautiful man-made waterfall but also allows you to see the fall foliage in the most scenic corner of this park. Another great spot is the Hemlock Trail Natural Area.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater is a great spot to visit throughout the year, but its classic view comes alive in the fall.
From this viewpoint, this iconic home is surrounded by beautiful leaves that come alive in the autumn. Even visiting a bit early in the foliage season, I was still able to capture some great color behind the home.
Of course, while you are visiting, you should also take the time to tour this interesting home.
Cedar Creek Park
Cedar Creek Park in Westmoreland County really pops in the autumn. Plus, it’s one of the closest spots on this list to see fall colors near Pittsburgh.
Cedar Creek Park has a lot to explore, but the best foliage can be found in the Cedar Creek Gorge, which features a nice hiking trail along the creek and two fun swinging bridges. You can also explore the area along the Youghiogheny River in the park.
Do you have a favorite place to enjoy fall foliage in the Laurel Highlands? Let us know in the comments below.