(Shutterstock Photo/Jon Bilous) Fall foliage in York County
(Shutterstock Photo/Jon Bilous)

“This season is shaping up to be perhaps the best season [for fall foliage] I’ve ever had the pleasure to report,” a state expert said.

It’s that time of year when many of us are happy—maybe even excited—to live in Penn’s Woods.

Temperatures are cooling.

The air is crisp.

And the leaves are turning bright red and yellow and orange.

“This season is shaping up to be perhaps the best season [for fall foliage] I’ve ever had the pleasure to report,” Ryan Reed, natural resource program specialist with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, told PennLive.

“Leaf fungus is down, days are warm and nights have been cold. Foliage has been changing rapidly, and we could experience an early and vibrant fall foliage season.”

Recent cool nights and frosts are pushing the development in color in some of the tree species that turn early, Reed said. “Black gums, birches and maples are sprinkling reds and yellows throughout Penn’s Woods.”

The weather will determine how long the fall colors will last.

“Drought conditions throughout a significant portion of the state could shorten what is expected to be a vibrant peak season,” Reed said. “Forecasted rain beginning next week could quench commonwealth forests, preserving a long, colorful fall.”

The DCNR has created a guide with an interactive map that shows some of the best places to see fall foliage in Pennsylvania.

Their top picks:

1. Delaware State Forest in Northeast Pennsylvania

The leaves are already starting to turn in the northeastern part of the state, where this forest is located. Black gums and red maples have started to add bright shades of red to the forest canopy, sugar maples have started to turn yellow and orange. Sassafras and poison ivy are changing, as well.

The guide suggests driving Route 402 through this state park in Pike and Monroe counties.

2. Promised Land State Park in Northeast Pennsylvania

The lakes in this park in Pike County provide mirrors for the fall foliage, the guide says.

3. Lehigh Gorge State Park in Northeast Pennsylvania

The deep, steep-walled gorge carved by the Lehigh River in Luzerne and Carbon counties has thick vegetation, rock outcroppings and waterfalls that enhance the scenery. The guide recommends cycling on the 26-mile rail trail that runs through the park.

4. French Creek State Park in Southeast Pennsylvania

The leaves haven’t changed yet in Berks and Chester counties, where this park is located. But the guide says this park, along with others in the area, provides good leaf-peeping opportunities for people who live in Philadelphia and its immediate suburbs.

5. Tiadaghton, Sproul and Susquehannock state forests in North Central Pennsylvania

Red and sugar maple leaves have already started to change in the northern forests of Pennsylvania, and some cherry and birch leaves have slightly yellowed.

The DCNR expects the colors of the northern hardwoods to reach their peak in the first full week of October and the oaks in late October.

In the coming weeks, Route 44 northwest from its intersection with US Route 220 through these forests makes “one of the prettiest fall foliage drives in Pennsylvania,” the guide says.

The forests are located in Centre, Clinton, Lycoming, McKean, Potter, Tioga and Union counties.

6. Pine Creek Valley in North Central Pennsylvania

The Pine Creek Valley contains the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, which provides some of the “most spectacular vistas in the state,” the guide says.

The best views of fall foliage can be found at Leonard Harrison and Colton Point state parks in Tioga County.

7. Cherry Springs State Park in North Central Pennsylvania

This park in Potter County is “nearly as remote and wild as it was two centuries ago,” the guide says.

The park is also one of the least light-polluted areas on the East Coast, which makes it a good spot for stargazing.

8. Elk State Forest in North Central Pennsylvania

This forest in Elk and McKean counties provides “beautiful vistas” and a place to see elk in the wild, the guide says. 

9. Bucktail State Park Natural Area in North Central Pennsylvania

A 75-mile scenic drive from Emporium to Lock Haven provides views of the Elk and Sproul state forests, the guide says.

This park spans Clinton and Cameron counties.

10. Poe Valley State Park in Central Pennsylvania

The leaves in Central Pennsylvania are still mostly green, and peak color is expected in the second to third week of October.

This park is located in Centre County.