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Best Fall Hikes in Pennsylvania
What better place than Pennsylvania for a fall getaway? With endless rolling hills, valleys, and mountain ridges covered in dense forests (not to mention dozens of bed and breakfasts in every region), Pennsylvania is prime leaf peeping material and the perfect autumn destination. Our many state park vistas and viewpoints are guaranteed to make you fall in love with Pennsylvania all season long. Check out our list of some of the best fall hikes that will take you to the state’s most scenic summits, and then start planning a romantic getaway with a stay at a nearby bed and breakfast.
Part of the Rothrock State Forest, the Bear Meadows Natural Area is located four miles south of Boalsburg. You can access the 3.7-mile loop at Bear Meadows Road. This is an excellent route for first-time hikers or it is an easy walk since there is no climbing. You’ll find a wide variety of terrain from tall pines to rhododendron bushes and wetlands. Rothrock State Forest offers a mix of multi-use trails for hiking and mountain biking. You can easily create your own circuit hike with the numerous forest roads.
Kings Gap Trail Network offers a variety of trails for hiking or walking for all levels (easy to most difficult). You’ll find 20-miles of trails to explore chestnut oak forests, blueberry patches, and trickling streams in addition to a variety of wildlife. The Cold Spring Overlook Trail and Pine Plantation Trail are the easiest.
Pine Creek Gorge or the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” is one of the best places for a hike this season surrounded by the reds, oranges, and yellows of the changing leaves of Tioga State Forest. The best views of the 1,000-foot-deep gorge can be found at Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks. The best part? Once you take in the view (and stretch out those calves), it’s all downhill from here! Enjoy the easier track back down after you get an Instagram-worthy shot of the colorful gorge. The Turkey Path from Leonard Harrison State Park will take you past waterfalls on its steep descent to the canyon floor. For an up-close and personal look at the vibrant colors of fall within Pine Creek Gorge, take to the Pine Creek Rail Trail. The historic 60-mile trail has been lauded by USA Today as one of its Top 10 picks for viewing Mother Nature at her most beautiful.
The Allegheny National Forest offers visitors hundreds of acres to explore and a variety of hiking trails ranging from short wildlife viewing and birding trails to the challenging North Country National Scenic Trail. With its abundance of deciduous trees, you’re guaranteed for a vibrant display of changing colors in late September or early October. For the best views, hike a stretch of the National Longhouse Scenic Byway, a 27-mile loop through the heart of the Allegheny National Forest.
Pennsylvania’s Great Lakes region has never looked more stunning than it does on the shores of Lake Erie in early October on the sandy peninsula of Presque Isle State Park. Besides being a National Natural Landmark, the park features 11 miles of hiking trails that will take you to perfect leaf-peeping locations for viewing the fall colors reflected on the water of the oark’s ponds, Presque Isle Bay, and Lake Erie. Long Pond Trail, Graveyard Pond Trail, and Dead Pond Trail are a few of the designated hiking trails that pass through the forest and offer scenic views of the ponds and lagoon. The Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose National Recreation Trail also makes a 13.5 mile ADA accessible circuit in the park. The Tom Ridge Environmental Center is free to enter and provides spectacular views of Lake Erie from the 75-foot glass-enclosed observation tower. For maps, guides, directions, and more information on Presque Isle State Park, visit the PA DCNR website.
Big Pocono State Park sprawls across more than 1,300 acres of rugged terrain on the summit and slopes of Camelback Mountain. On a clear day, the Delaware Water Gap, High Point in New Jersey, and the Catskill Mountains in New York are all visible so rest assured a view from way up here (1,000 feet to be exact) during fall foliage season will be absolutely breathtaking. Explore a total of 8.5 miles of hiking trails, most of which are extremely steep with rough grades. Take the Indian Trail for an unforgettable view from Camelback Mountain’s eastern cliffs, If you worked up an appetite on your way up to the top, visit the Cameltop restaurant for a quick bite or pack a light lunch for a picnic with a view. For more information, visit the Big Pocono State Park website.