Planning an adventure to see fall foliage in the PA Wilds
There’s nothing quite like a scenic road trip as the leaves are turning. Lucky for explorers, the scenic routes of the Pennsylvania Wilds offer an easy way to see fall foliage right from the comfort of your vehicle; or for more adventurous types, from the scenic overlook of a trail or picturesque spot.
When to spot fall foliage
Accuweather reported early in September that the PA Wilds region could be really showing off its fall colors this year.
“‘There is the chance that colors could overachieve in this area. If the rest of September is a bit drier, Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said that there could be ‘excellent conditions.’”
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says that Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation — or anywhere in the world.
Beginning September 30 and running weekly, the agency posts a fall foliage report, helping you plan when the best time to see peak foliage will be. Access the reports, when they’re published, at this link.
Where to see fall foliage
The Allegheny National Forest offers over 15 campgrounds with more than 1,000 sites, and rustic cabins with amenities ranging from full service, with electricity and showers, to primitive. If you’re looking to stay overnight to see great fall colors, the ANF is a great spot to do so. While there, you’ll be able to hike, bike, kayak and more.
National Geographic calls PA Route 6, which runs through the ANF as well as the Tioga State Forest, “one of America’s most scenic drives,” and the Weather Channel picked Route 6 as its Pennsylvania choice for “Amazing Road Trips to Take In Every State!” On the route in the Tioga State Forest, you’ll find the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, one of the must-see vistas in Pennsylvania (and a perfect spot to see autumn colors).
Step back in time in Cook Forest, known as “The Ancients,” a landscape that serves as an ode to the majesty of the Pennsylvania Wilds and home to many of the tallest hemlock and pine trees in the Northeast. While the forest is filled largely with some of the tallest pine trees in the Northeast, fall foliage can be spotted from spots like the Cook Forest Fire Tower and Seneca Point Overlook.
Nicknamed “Top of the World” by locals, the Bucktail Overlook from atop Mason Hill in Elk State Forest offers one of the most stunning views in the PA Wilds. The Fred Woods Trail is 4.57 miles long and marked in yellow paint. The trail includes incredible rock formations and two stunning vistas along the way.
Pennsylvania is one of 7 northern states that the North Country National Scenic Trail (NST) traverses, revealing outstanding scenic beauty across a variety of environments. The Pennsylvania portions of the trail, which cover 265 miles, wind largely through our hardwood forests – including the Allegheny National Forest – and in places run parallel to the Allegheny and Clarion Rivers.
And don’t forget the Kinzua Skywalk — an engineering masterpiece with a rich history, offering one of the most stunning views you’ll see in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Venture out on the bridge during peak foliage and you’ll find a view that won’t disappoint.
Explore even more
Each of the Landscapes of the Pennsylvania Wilds offers a totally different perspective on fall foliage. Check out each to plan your visit to the Pennsylvania Wilds; or explore the many roads, byways, trails, and waterways that connect our region and take a journey.
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