Autumn is on the horizon. While some mourn the loss of summer and dread the arctic temperatures lurking in the future, others are eagerly awaiting the colors of fall. Leaf Peepers (a real term) anticipate the turning of the leaves the same way children anticipate the arrival of Santa.
Anticipating when the “Peak Week” will be depends on a lot of different factors. Last year, Harrisburg area peaked between October 14 and October 27. Experts state that the leaves turned about a week earlier in 2017 than average due to heavier precipitation in the Summer and colder nights in August and September. The Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage Prediction Map predicts that our area will near Peak Week between October 8th and October 15th.
So, while we can’t tell you exactly when to go, we can tell you where to go to see some of Mother Nature’s finest natural paintings.
Parks & Trails
There are several parks and grounds around central PA where you can walk around or hike some trails.
- King’s Gap Environmental Education Center
- This park in Carlisle has more than 20 miles of trails to choose from. So you can walk through a natural fall wonderland, or drink it all in with a panoramic view from the mansion’s balcony that provides a view of Cumberland Valley from South Mountain to Blue Mountain.
- Waggoner’s Gap
- Another Carlisle find, Waggoner’s Gap also has a great view! Both the Hawk Trail and Songbird trail lead to a beautiful 180-degree scene of Cumberland Valley.
- Colonel Denning State Park
- The park near Newville offers 4 trails and a multitude of scenic spots to view the vast array of fall colors. Challenge yourself by taking Flat Rock Trail, their most challenging hike, for an incredible & worth-while view from the natural rock outcrop that rests right on top of Blue Mountain overlooking Cumberland Valley.
- Lehigh Gorge
- Get up close and personal to the artistic colors of autumn by walking through it on the Lehigh Gorge Trail which follows more than 20 miles of abandoned railroad grade along the river. Would you rather ride the actual train than walk the tracks? The Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway offers round-trip train rides that follow the Lehigh River, travel through the Glen Onoko area and go into the Lehigh Gorge State Park.
Lakes & Rivers & Creeks, Oh My!
Try a scenic boat ride, or stroll along the waterside of some of these beautiful PA attractions.
- Susquehanna River
- Take a ride close to home on the Pride of the Susquehanna. The Harrisburg river boat travels on weekends until October 28th. Bundle up and enjoy a slow ride around the river while taking in the sights of our beautiful city, and some of the changing colors of fall.
- Swatara Creek
- Cocoa Kayak Rentals in Hershey runs their trips until mid-November! So you can paddle on down this scenic creek for one of the greatest autumnal views.
- Lake Wallenpaupack
- Marvel at the fall colors this year with a trip to the “crown jewel” of the Poconos. Take a ride on the Wallenpaupack tour boat until October 7th, or walk the trail around the lake and view the fantastic display all around.
- Raystown Lake
- Cruise around Raystown Lake, the largest lake entirely within Pennsylvania, on the Proud Mary Showboat and take in all that autumn has to offer. Their Fall Foliage Cruises run Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays until October 28th. The view of the mountains rising above the lake will be sure to take your breath away!
For those of you who like to take in the sights behind the wheel or in the passenger seat, here are some fall road trips that you and a fellow leaf peeper can take.
- 325runs east from Dauphin to Tower City through some impressive and varied forests.
- 322from Duncannon to Clearfield cuts across several mountain ranges that space the autumn season, displaying increasing fall foliage to the north of each high place and offering abundant overlooks.
- 15from Camp Hill to Lewisburg, then Rt. 192 to Rt. 477 to Rt. 64 to Mill Hall, then Rt. 150 to Lock Haven and finally Rt. 120 to Renovo climbs and descends several mountains, and at other spots twists its way along rivers.
- 147follows the Susquehanna River north from near Duncannon to Montandon, where Rt. 405 continues the northbound drive to Rt. 220 and then to Rt. 154 to World’s End State Park, with its Loyalsock Canyon Vista.
- One of the more exciting views of fall foliage is the drive from the southerly view out over the Cumberland Valley from the top of Blue Mountain just north of Colonel Denning State Park south along 233, west on Pine Road and south on Kings Gap Road. This brings you to the above mentioned mansion balcony overlook at Kings Gap State Park and its northerly view of the same landscape!
So whether you travel over the river, through the woods, or on the road, we hope that you take time during this autumn season to visit a few of your local parks, lakes, or communities. Take in some of the most beautiful natural art shows that Mother Earth has to offer.
Share your photos with us on social media using the hashtag #hbgmagazinefall18!