When and Where to View the Best Fall Foliage in PA

Nothing signals the advent of autumn in Pennsylvania as when the state’s natural landscape begins to burst with glittering displays of red, yellow, and purple. From the large-scale transformations in the Allegheny National Forest and Rothrock State Forest to historical sights framed by varying shades of gold, visitors can catch a glimpse of this annual spectacle by foot, bike, or car!

1. Allegheny National Forest


Best viewing time: late September or early October

Fall Foliage Birds Eye view Allegheny National Forest
Allegheny National Forest

Allegheny National Forest is filled with deciduous trees with a wide array of warm reds, lively yellows, and deep oranges in autumn. Take a leisurely drive through the colorful forest or choose from a variety of hiking and biking trails to see the foliage up close.

For the best views: Hop on the Longhouse National Scenic Byway, a 36-mile loop through the Allegheny National Forest’s core, for postcard-worthy vistas.

2. Great Allegheny Passage


Best viewing time: early October

Bike in the woods foliage Great Allegheny Passage
Great Allegheny Passage | Credit @allisonleevannoy via IG

The Great Allegheny Passage provides nearly 150 miles of hiking and biking happiness between downtown Pittsburgh, and Cumberland, MD. Hop on the trail in Ohiopyle to experience the autumn-activated beauty of Ohiopyle State Park.

For the best views: Adventure Baughman Trail and Baughman Rock Overlook at Ohiopyle State Park. This steep, rocky, trail is a challenging hike but well worth the effort to see the dramatic panoramic vista of the Youghiogheny River Gorge.

3. Pine Creek Gorge


Best viewing time: early October

Pine Creek Gorge is encased by Tioga State Forest, which turns shades of red, purple, and yellow in the autumn. Catch the best views of the 47-mile-long, 1,450-foot-deep gorge at Leonard Harrison State Park or Colton Pont State Park.

For the best views: Trek through Pine Creek Gorge’s west rim to catch an eyeful of color and see northern Pennsylvania birds and other wildlife or hike or bike the Pine Creek Rail Trail, a 62-mile route that runs through the gorgeous gorge.

4. John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum


Best viewing time: early October

wooden walk bridge on lake
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

Just a short drive from Center City Philadelphia, The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is a 1,000-acre National Wildlife Refuge that turns into a fall foliage wonderland every year.

The sanctuary for both animals and people is open year-round but becomes most popular for city-dwellers to visit when the leaves change.

For the best views: To get a front row seat to see the epic fall views, bring a kayak or canoe and paddle down Darby Creek. Observe the colors along with hundreds of species of plants, trees, birds, insects, and animals.

5. Heritage Rail Trail

York County

Best viewing time: early October

Soak up the stunning views along miles of York County’s Heritage Rail Trail, where you can walk, hike, bike, or take a train ride and admire the changing seasons.

For the best views: Take a ride on the Northern Central Railroad, which has been in operation since 1838. As you sit back and relax, the conductor will point out the best foliage views and tell you stories of the railroad’s history.

6. Lebanon Valley Rail Trail and Mt. Gretna

Lebanon County

Best viewing time: early October

Fall Foliage on streets of Mt Gretna
Lebanon Valley Rail Trail and Mt. Gretna

Built in the 1880’s, the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail is a multi-functional greenway trail that runs 18 miles from the southwestern border of Lebanon County and goes through Colebrook, Mt. Gretna, Cornwall, and the city of Lebanon.

For the best views: Hop on the trail in downtown Lebanon and immediately step into the rolling countryside with tons of fall foliage and fantastic views.

7. Starrucca Viaduct


Best viewing time: early October

Beautiful view of Starruca Viaduct
Starrucca Viaduct | Credit: Discover NEPA

Located near the D&H RailTrail, the Starrucca Viaduct is one of the biggest stone-arch bridges in the United States. Featuring 17 arches and almost 100 feet high, this local landmark is the perfect place to view the changing fall leaves.

For the best view: To see the stunning view of the Viaduct amid a backsplash of fall colors, go to Luciana Park, a small area located near Depot St and parallel to St. John’s Cemetery.

8. Memorial Lake State Park


Best viewing time: early October

paddle lake boat on dock by lake
Memorial Lake State Park

Surrounded by colorful leaves in the fall, the 230-acre Memorial Lake State Park is found at the base of Blue Mountain in East Hanover Township. Centered within the park is Memorial Lake, an 85-acre lake that has two boat launching ramps and a courtesy dock for sailing, boating, and paddle boarding.

For the best views: Spot pops of leafy colors while walking the 2.3-mile loop around the perimeter of Memorial Lake. If you are a water-enthusiast, consider bringing a paddle board or boat to get into the water for a serene afternoon.

9. Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area


Best viewing time: early October

Winslow Hill Viewing area
Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area | Credit: Elk Stone Lodge

Nestled in the mountains of “Elk Country,” are more than 1,400 elk, white-tailed deer, black bears, and foxes. As the most popular spot to view elk in PA, the Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area, is a great spot to simultaneously view wildlife and the picturesque fall colors.

For the best views: Winslow Hill provides two viewing areas with off-road parking leading to a spectacular panoramic viewing area that overlooks the meadows where elk often gather.

10. Kinzua Bridge State Park

Mount Jewett

Best viewing time: early to mid October

Kinzua Bridge in Autumn
Kinzua Bridge State Park

Kinzua Bridge State Park is the site of the Kinzua Viaduct, formerly the world’s highest and longest railroad bridge at 301-feet tall and 2,053-feet long.

For the best views: A skywalk supplies superb views of the Kinzua Creek Valley year-round, and the valley is strikingly beautiful when splashed with fall colors. Plus, a glass-bottom viewing area provides a look at the remnants of the famous viaduct.

11. Big Pocono State Park


Best viewing time: mid October

Located on the slopes and summit of Camelback Mountain in the Pocono Mountains, Big Pocono State Park is a natural viewing area for fall colors.

For the best views: Walk to the park’s summit to witness autumn’s eye-catching takeover of a large area of eastern Pennsylvania and portions of New Jersey and New York.

12. Washington Crossing Historic Park

Washington Crossing

Best viewing time: mid October

October is an ideal time to experience Washington Crossing Historic Park, which commemorates the site where General George Washington and his troops crossed the icy Delaware River in 1776. Stroll along nature trails and historic buildings to discover the history of Washington’s crossing and Taylorsville.

For the best views: Climb Bowman’s Hill Tower for a 14-mile view of the Delaware River and its surrounding areas.

13. Oil Region National Heritage Area

Oil City

Best viewing time: mid October

Don’t be fooled by the region’s petroleum-centered name and heritage, Pennsylvania’s Oil Region National Heritage Area has more than 65 miles of paved trails bordering beautiful landscapes, which are especially scenic in the fall.

For the best views: Tour the region’s unique population of Victorian houses to see the structures surrounded by vivid colors.

14. Rothrock State Forest


Best viewing time: mid October

fall foliage birds eye view rothrock state park
Rothrock State Park | Credit @justin_herrold via IG

Situated in the heart of Pennsylvania, the Rothrock State Forest has almost countless areas to view autumn colors, including the Seven Mountains area, the shores of Raystown Lake, and on its nearly 300 miles of hiking trails.

For the best views: Alan Seeger Natural Area has some of the oldest trees in the state, while the overlook at the summit of Tussey Mountain pairs views of the nearby Penn State University with dazzling fall panoramas.

15. Presque Isle State Park


Best viewing time: mid October

Presque Isle State Park is located on a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula with stunning views of Lake Erie, providing wonderful opportunities for leaf peepers to catch reflections of foliage in the water.

For the best views: Step into the Tom Ridge Environmental Center for free admission to interactive exhibits and an overview of the park from a 75-foot observation tower. Then, hit the hiking trails for an up-close encounter of the morphing scenery.

16. Three Rivers Heritage Trail


Best viewing time: mid October

On the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, visitors can admire Pittsburgh’s landscape while learning about the city’s storied past through colorful, interpretive signs highlighting notable historical events, areas of cultural significance, and facts about native wildlife.

For the best views: Check out the Three Rivers Heritage Trail map for recommended access points to the riverside trail and to see Pittsburgh’s skyline tower above red, orange, and gold-infused greenery.

17. Ridley Creek State Park


Best viewing time: mid October

waterfall on creek
Ridley Creek State Park

Only 16 miles from downtown Philadelphia, Ridley Creek State Park is located between Media and Newtown Square. With easy access from all points in Greater Philadelphia and more than 2,600 acres of woodlands to explore, visitors can spend a day experiencing the fall colors at the park’s must-see spots.

For the best views: A popular wedding venue, the beautiful fall colors of the park’s surrounding woodlands provide a stunning backdrop to the 1789 stone Hunting Hill Mansion. Take a stroll while admiring the mansion or branch off onto one of the many trails that circle the property.

18. Delaware State Forest

Dingmans Ferry

Best viewing time: mid October

Hike or bike through Delaware State Forest's Thunder Swamp Trail System, a 45-mile network of scenic interconnected trails.

For the best views: Buckle up and take a drive on PA Route 402 through the forest for supreme views of fall foliage.

19. Bucktail Overlook


Best viewing time: mid October

scenic overlook
Bucktail Overlook

You can drive to Bucktail Overlook, also called “Top of the World,” with its 360-degree panoramic views of mountaintops in the PA Wilds, making it one of the most picturesque fall foliage spots in the state.

For the best view: After visiting Bucktail Overlook, find even more amazing views by hopping onto the The Fred Woods Trail, a 4.57-mile-long, yellow-blazed path that takes you past two more stunning vista points.

20. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary


Best viewing time: mid October

visitor sitting on rocks watching Hawks
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary | Credit: Mary Linkevich 

Hawk Mountain includes more than 2,500 acres of protected forests with roughly eight miles of hiking trails fit for fall foliage fanatics. Beyond taking in the views, explore birding, hawk watching, or relax at one of the many vista points.

For the best view: The most popular trail for a scenic fall vista point is Lookout Trail. This one-mile loop trail takes visitors past South Lookout, which has colorful views of the canyon and surrounding area.

21. Lancaster County


Best viewing time: mid October

scenic view of farms behind covered bridge
Lancaster County

In the heart of beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Lancaster County’s fall foliage season is primarily late September through early November. Great ways to experience leaf-peeping include hiking, a covered bridge driving tour, and views from a hot air balloon.

For the best views: Take a ride on America's oldest, continously operating railroad at Strasburg Railroad. During a 45-minute train ride, relax and soak in the fall scenery as you travel through the changing colors of farmland.

22. Cook Forest State Park


Best viewing time: mid October

Fall Foliage near lake
Cook Forest State Park | Credit: Steph Beichner

The 8,500-acre Cook Forest State Park is known for its towering white pines. On a brisk fall day, enjoy the scenic 13-mile stretch of the Clarion River that flows through Cook Forest State Park. Bundle up and enjoy some canoeing or kayaking or hang out by the water’s edge.

For the best view: Take in the stunning view of the valley from Seneca Point. Climb the nearby fire tower that stands at 87.5 feet tall to see sweeping views of fall leaves and colors.

23. Brandywine Battlefield Park

Chadds Ford

Best viewing time: mid to late October

Spend a day learning the history of the American Revolution's largest battle at Brandywine Battlefield. Start your trip by viewing battlefield artifacts in the Visitor’s Center before hiking through the grounds as you envision the history of the land and take in the autumn colors of the valley.

For the best views: Take a guided tour through the grounds to get the best views of foliage. Make sure to go to Washington’s Headquarters and the Gideon Gilpin House to get a stunning look of historic architecture paired with a scene of fall colors.

24. Pennsylvania Route 6


Best viewing time: mid to late October

Designated by National Geographic as one of the most scenic drives in the United States, Pennsylvania Route 6 takes motorists through 11 counties and stretches more than 400 miles across northern Pennsylvania.

For the best views: Explore the Rt. 6 Artisan Trail, a diverse region filled with rich history. On the trail you will find small towns with character and big-time creativity, which are enhanced with color during October.

25. Gettysburg National Military Park


Best viewing time: late October

Explore the shrine to the monumental Civil War at Gettysburg National Military Park. There are 1,328 monuments, memorials, markers, and plaques on the battlefield commemorating and memorializing the men who fought and died during the Battle of Gettysburg set against the area’s fall colors during mid-October.

For the best views: Take a self-guided auto tour or learn about the battle from a licensed guide who will lead you to the best sights and help you understand the battlefield from the comfort of your own vehicle.

To learn more about fall foliage in Pennsylvania, check out the VISIT PA website. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, X, and Instagram for more PA inspiration. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly PA travel e-newsletter so you never miss an update.

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