The Farmer’s Almanac estimates that October 5–21 will be high fall season across Pennsylvania. I’m not entirely sure how they find out in advance so far (and it’s literally the same time frame as last year). Here are some places to watch the autumn leaves fall this year.
Pine Creek flows through the “Grand Canyon” of Pennsylvania in Leonard Harrison State Park. Photo: Getty Images.
Pine Creek Gorge
🚘⏱ ~ 3 hours east of Pittsburgh
If you can’t get to the Grand Canyon, you can go to the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Both Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks offer scenic overlooks – the former is more family-friendly with a playground and picnic areas, while the latter offers a four-mile steep descent into the canyon floor. Choose your own adventure.
Fall colors on Mount Davis. Photo credit: Getty Images.
🚘⏱ ~ 2 hours southeast of Pittsburgh
Mount Davis is the highest point in Pennsylvania. It’s known to high pointers (people who visit the highest point in each state so they can cross it off their list), but don’t let this fancy term intimidate you. The Mount Davis observation tower offers a 360-degree view but is easy to climb. The Highpoint Trail is a 5.2 mile loop, so Mount Davis can be a short trip rather than a day hike.
Hawns Lookout in the Pennsylvania Mountains overlooking Raystown Lake in the fall before sunset. Photo: Getty Images.
🚘⏱ ~ 2.5 hours east of Pittsburgh
Raystown Lake is the largest lake in all of Pennsylvania. It’s 30 miles long and offers the opportunity for both hiking and water adventures. The Allegrippis trails are popular with mountain bike enthusiasts. The lake has campsites and cabins to rent, although there are still plenty of options available for autumn.
Barronvale Covered Bridge in Somerset, PA. Photo: Getty Images.
Somersets covered bridges
🚘⏱ ~ 1 hour’s drive southeast of Pittsburgh
Would you like something less strenuous than a hike? Check out some of the covered bridges in Somerset, Pennsylvania. Uncovering PA has an article listing all 10 bridges with some tips on how to see them all. If 10 seems like a lot, just choose the Packsaddle Covered Bridge. It’s the only covered bridge in the state that sits directly over a waterfall. While the waterfall is best seen during high tide (like spring), Somerset County’s shortest bridge still looks impressive with its fall foliage.
The Kinzau Bridge Skywalk in the Pennsylvania State Park of the same name was created when a tornado destroyed the iron railway bridge over the river valley. Photo: Getty Images.
Kinzua Bridge State Park Sky Walk
🚘⏱ ~ 3 hours northeast of Pittsburgh by car
Once the tallest and longest railway viaduct in the world, in 2011 six of the remaining steel towers of the Kinzua Viaduct were converted into the Sky Walk (the deck of the Sky Walk, the ability to look straight down).
View of hills covered with fall trees from Raven Rock overlook at Coopers Rock State Forest West Virginia. Photo: Getty Images.
Coopers Rock, West Virginia
🚘⏱ ~ 90-minute drive south of Pittsburgh
Technically, do you want to leave the state so you can say you had vacation this year? Take a short drive to see iconic views of the Coopers Rock State Forest. Located 21 miles from Morgantown, this West Virginia State Park lists more than 20 hiking trails on its website. Be sure to take a photo at the lookout point.
Know beforehand: Fine fall colors near Pittsburgh
As a reminder, overcrowding is a potential problem for these outdoor spots. Practice social distancing, wear your mask, and check the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website for updates on possible places that might turn visitors away before you leave.
This story was originally published in September 2020 and has been updated for the 2021 fall vacation spy season.