Cooler temperatures in the fall mean that leaves are turning wonderful shades of orange, red and yellow. Pennsylvania has three distinct zones where fall foliage reaches peak intensity at separate times. The northern counties bordering New York State and the higher elevations in Western Pennsylvania normally turn first in early October. These areas are followed by central Pennsylvania in middle October and finally Southeast Pennsylvania the last few weeks of October into early November.
While Pennsylvania has thousands of miles of roads, there are a few must-drive tours in the fall for any foliage enthusiast. Many of these are just out your back door. Others involve a day trip. Below are the top regional driving tours which are accessible on any given weekend in October. The sights that await you are definitely worth a few stops along the way for an amazing photo opportunity and a lot of fun.
Region: Northwest Pennsylvania
This National Forest boasts 513,000 acres of woodland and seven unbelievable driving tours. It takes the top position for a weekend drive. Out of the seven recommended tours, Route 6, which threads the forest and continues east, is the most recommended. This 96 mile tour includes a must stop at the awe inspiring Pine Creek Gorge (aka The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon). The Allegheny National Forest website provides detailed driving directions and recommended stops.
Region: Northeast Pennsylvania
The Endless Mountain area of Northeast Pennsylvania offers 3 unique driving tours to take advantage of for colorful photo opportunities. Of the 3 tours, the most recommended is Route 706 east which promises several amazing overlooks that cannot be missed. This tour also includes several small towns for rest stops and a Chocolates by Leopold shop in Montrose. Additional information can be found on the Endless Mountain website.
Region: Central Pennsylvania
Two tours make the must see list for the central Pennsylvania region. One is a tour up U.S. 15 and into Williamsport which offers stunning views of some of the best fall foliage PA has to offer and the other tour is a day trip to Worlds End State Park. This park located in Sullivan County offers tall hardwoods and sprawling vistas that definitely fit the park name because you may very well see the end of the world from here. Their website offers several of the most recommended driving tours.
Region: Southeast Pennsylvania
While this region is home to the State capital of Harrisburg and several other urban areas, urban sprawl has left a few jewels for any foliage hunter. Two can’t miss overlooks are located in Lancaster County. Chickies Rock offers amazing views of the Susquehanna River and tree covered river banks. Access to this overlook can be found just off Route 441 near Columbia. The second overlook is Pinnacle Overlook which is just of 327W and River Road in Lancaster County. This overlook also offers amazing views of the Susquehanna River and several islands which break up the rivers constant march towards the Chesapeake Bay.
While each of these tours offer amazing opportunities for viewing fall foliage, each of them offer just as exceptional opportunities to view wildlife as well. From Elk herds in Elk County, PA to Bald Eagles soaring over the Susquehanna, it’s all just a taste of what Fall offers any Pennsylvania traveler who is interested in drive just a little off the beaten trail.