On Fall's Trail in Pennsylvania

What to Do & Where to Do It

Hiking in the Appalachian Trail

If you are up for it and have the time, try the most famous of Pennsylvania's trails - the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, affectionately known as the AT. The AT runs for 220 miles through Pennsylvania, passing through the southeastern part of the state, where fall colors are at their peak during the last two weeks of October. The trail enters Pennsylvania in the South Mountains, traversing the Michaux State Forest for 40 miles, crossing the Susquehanna River, then passing through 114 miles of the rugged, heavily-forested Weiser State Forest. It finally crosses into New Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. If you are short on time, any portion of the AT would make an excellent day-hike.

Access: Highway 81, route 174
Peak color: Mid to Late-October

Hiking Tiadaghton State Forest

Tiadaghton State Forest, on the Allegheny Plateau in north central Pennsylvania, is one excellentlocale for on-foot leaf-peeping in the beginning of October. The Old Loggers Path trail, running 27 miles in a region dominated by northern hardwoods with some mixed oak, leads through the valleys of Rock Run and Pleasant Stream, as well as through the abandoned logging town of Masten. The white oak's leaves turn a purplish-red, in contrast to the evergreens all around. A magnificent vibrance! The trail, much of it on old logging roads and the grades of logging railroads, offers some gorgeous vistas of wooded valleys spread out below.

Access: Highway 80 to 180, Route 14 to Tiadaghton State Forest
Peak color: Beginning to Mid-October
More About The Old Logger's Path

Paddling Little Grand Canyon

Get multiple perspectives of the coppers, reds, and oranges while standing on top of the Little Grand Canyon or view it from below while you paddle the currents of Pine Creek, which snakes its way through canyon country. If you want a more up close and personal experience, foliage hunters can leave the beaten path and try local roads offering hiking and biking trails that wind through the rolling mountains.

Access: Just travel a feeder road to U.S. Route 6, which cuts through north central Pennsylvania east-to-west
Peak color: Late September to Mid-October

Biking Lehigh River Gorge State Park

With spectacular views, a mixed bag of trees and their leaves including oak, maple and gray birch, and its proximity to a town called Jim Thorpe, who was considered one of the 20th century's greatest athletes, it's no wonder this biking and hiking destination is one of the most popular in Pennsylvania. The Lehigh River Gorge State Park, north of Jim Thorpe, is criss-crossed by trails on the smooth, rolling hills of the Poconos, making it a fun and exhilerating ride for experienced and the not-so-experienced biker. Try the paths on Broad Mountain, one of the prominent features of the area.

Access: Route 9
Peak color: Mid-October

Bird Watching at Hawk Mountain

Not only will you see fall in motion at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, but you will see the flight of the raptor migration. These birds of prey - hawks, eagles and falcons, fly past the sanctuary's lookout between late summer and mid-December. The lookout's panoramic view of the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Province makes Hawk Mountain an ideal fall getaway.

Access: I-78 to exit 11. Route 143 North. Left onto Hawk Mt. Road (you'll see signs)
Peak color: Beginning to Mid-October

Fall on the Delaware Water Gap

The Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail begins at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, a 70,000 acre park surrounding 40 miles of the Delaware River. River camping, canoes, rafts and innertubes ara few ways to enjy the fall scenery along the Delaware River. The Dutot School and Museum, open May-October, showcases an art gallery adn a museum of local history. For more information on this region call 570/421-5791.

Access: Route 13
Peak color: Late September to Mid-October

Scenic Driving Loop in the West

There are two reasons why this drive is a favorite loop for many foliage fanatics. The loop is perfect for a day drive - only takes about 2 hours - and it goes through the heart of Pennsylvania's elk herd. There is biking and hiking in Elk County and Cameron in the western part of the state and other attractions to see if your body and neck need a break along the way. It's a road-less-traveled which means you can ease the accelerator and enjoy the fall spectacle around you. Starting at St. Mary's, you coast through the mountains of Emporium and into the little town of Driftwood on the Sinnemahoning Creek and then back to St. Mary's.

Route: PA 120, PA555, and PA255 which take you back to St. Mary's
Peak color: Mid-October

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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