As we all know, the fall scenery in PA is unrivaled. Our vast forest expanses with their superb stands of oak, maple, and other fall-coloring hardwoods bring tourists from many parts of the world every year.
And if the tourists know where to go, why not a refresher for us locals on the best destinations to take in the fall show in our native state? (And by the way, not all of these destinations are even rural.)
The following is a list of top destinations within roughly 2 hours of Elizabethville, PA, the hometown of Esh Builders, from closest to farthest away. Enjoy!
(And let us know sometime if you discover another hidden treasure not on this list! There are always new spots of tremendous fall beauty to find!)
1. Weiser State Forest - 16 mins
One local place that we especially like is Weiser State Forest close to us here. It contains magnificent views of the Susquehanna River from miles away as well as wonderful views of forest scenery. Check it out this autumn to refresh your soul.
2. Downtown Harrisburg – 40 minutes
Downtown Harrisburg is a wonderful spot for viewing fall foliage during the second half of October for two reasons: the Capitol and the Susquehanna River.
Some of the best views of the Capitol are from the Soldier’s Grove area and the entire Riverfront Park and City Island areas also present spectacular views of the river with the flaming trees on either side.
3. Shade Mtn. Road – 55 min
Follow this 15-mile scenic road along the top of Shade Mt. in Snyder County and get unparalleled views of Pennsylvania’s hardwood forests.
4. Locust Lake State Park – 1 hr.
Locust Lake State Park is an often-forgotten state park in Schuylkill County. Follow the biking trails that border the 52-acre lake on two sides or hike the miles of trails that lace the forests around the lake.
5. Governor Dick Tower -1 hr and 5 minutes
The Park at Governor Hill is located just outside of Mount Gretna, in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Climb to the top of the hill to reach the Governor Dick Observation Tower, surrounded by Pennsylvania’s trademark forests.
After climbing the 66-foot tower, enjoy a bird’s-eye view in nearly every direction. From this height, you can view thousands of trees in five different PA counties. For more fall scenery viewing, take the 3-mile roundtrip easy hike through the park.
6. Chickies Rock – 1 hour and 7 minutes
Chickies Rock in Lancaster County overlooks the Susquehanna River with views across into York County. One of the best spots for viewing fall foliage in Lancaster County.
7. Jack’s Mountain – 1 hr and 12 minutes
Jack’s Mountain offers views into both scenic Big Valley (of Amish fame) and Centre County. Amazing fall scenery every September and October.
8. Hawk Mtn. Sanctuary – 1 hr. and 12 minutes
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a wild bird sanctuary located along the Appalachian flyway in Lehigh Valley near Kempton, PA. An outdoor destination for hikers and birdwatchers, it also takes in incredible scenery along its trail system which features overlooks allowing you to soak in Pennsylvania fall foliage in all its magnificence.
9. Gettysburg Battlefield – 1 hr. and 18
Gettysburg Battlefield doesn’t just present history in spades; it also has absolutely stunning fall scenery every autumn. Drive through the park and relive the Civil War through the memorials, monuments, and cannons accented by PA’s trademark reds, oranges, and yellows. Sobering history in a magnificent frame, that’s what you’ll get.
10. Jim Thorpe – 1 hr. and 20 min.
Jim Thorpe is a small Carbon County hamlet that holds Fall Foliage Weekends the first three weekends in October. Thousands of people descend on the area every year and they do it for a reason. If you’re an autumn lover, you need to join them.
11. Reading Pagoda – 1 hr. and 26 min.
The Reading Pagoda, a Japanese-style pagoda located at the top of Mount Penn, overlooks downtown Reading, Pennsylvania and features incredible views of both the city of Reading and further off into Berks County. And during the peak of PA fall color, this is not a spot you want to miss. The
Pagoda itself is also a wonderful place to photograph once the trees around the building have turned color.
12. Hickory Run State Park – 1 hr. and 27 min.
Hickory Run State Park in the Poconos is always beautiful, but it is genuinely amazing during the autumn season. It features Hawk Falls, a boulder field, hiking trails, and a beautiful chapel and grounds.
13. Bake Oven Knob - 1 hr. and 30 min.
The Appalachian Trail in PA offers many spectacular overlooks, but few can match Bake Oven Knob. Take the short drive from Allentown, PA, and traverse a short, rocky hike from the closest parking area to get to Bake Oven Knob. Enjoy spectacular scenery to the south and east.
14. Rickett’s Glen State Park -1 hr. and 33 mins.
It’s a happy coincidence that Pennsylvania’s best destination for waterfall lovers also features absolutely flaming fall foliage. Falls Trail, which will lead you past the park’s 23 named waterfalls, is one of the best hikes in the entire state of PA, and anyone who can take this stroll during the month of October without filling their camera or phone memory with incredible autumn shots doesn’t belong there.
15. Loyalsock State Forest – 1 hr. and 35 mins.
A beautiful spot in northeastern PA, Loyalsock State Forest is filled with beautiful overlooks and waterfalls. Check out all the covered bridges as well as High Knob Overlook, Dry Run Falls, and Band Rock Vista.
16. World’s End State Park – 1 hr. 38 mins.
World’s End State Park, a can’t-miss state park in Sullivan County, PA, is also home to several waterfalls and overlooks along its miles of hiking trails.
Canyon Vista is a favorite spot in autumn because of the chance it gives viewers to take in the forested hillsides in all their fall glory.
17. Abandoned PA Turnpike – 1 hr. 46 mins.
The Abandoned PA Turnpike is a wonderful spot, both for exploration of the 13-mile roadway abandoned since the 1960s and for the amazing fall foliage on display in the area. The contrast between the forsaken tunnels and miles of crumbling pavement and the riot of fall color in the surrounding Buchanan State Forest is both poignantly beautiful and hard to forget.
18. Delaware Water Gap Rec. Area -1 hr. 53 mins
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, located in the northeastern corner of PA, features both the state’s tallest waterfall and some incredible fall foliage. There are some wonderful hiking trails that feature incredible views over the Delaware Valley.
19. Hyner View State Park – 1 hr. 56 mins
Few of PA’s vistas can rival the overlook at Hyner View State Park. With an elevation 1,300 feet above the Susquehanna River and the trees of the Sproul State Forest, the chance to take in fall foliage in all its splendor is unmatched.
20. Route 32 in Bucks County – 1hr. 57 mins.
Many people consider Rt. 32 in Bucks County, PA the most beautiful road in PA. Stretching from Kintersville to New Hope, Rt. 32 traverses the wooded hillsides bordering the Delaware River. In the fall, the beauty of this road almost defies description as it passes waterfalls, river overlooks, and covered bridges. Check it out this autumn.
21. Raystown Lake – 2 hrs.
Although Raystown Lake is often thought of as a summer destination, the miles of forest that line its shores means that fall foliage can also be enjoyed in abundance. You can take a cruise from Lake Raystown Resort until about the middle of October and this setting allows you to capture incredible pictures of the sweep of riotous color. Or you can also hike to one of the many overlooks along Raystown Lake, with Hawn’s Overlook near the northern entrance offering some of the most stunning views.
22. Old City Philadelphia – 2 hr. 10 mins
We told you not all the wonderful fall scenery sites were rural. Taking in all the beautiful scenery and historic buildings on the tree-lined streets in Old City Philadelphia around sites like Independence Hall is a wonderful way to spend a fall day. Taking time to sit under the riot of oaks and maples in both Washington and Franklin Squares will refresh the soul through both the magnificent scenery and the even more magnificent and meaningful historical proximity.
23. Marie Antoinette Overlook -2 hr. 11 min.
The Marie Antoinette Overlook, located along Route 6 in Bradford County, remains one of Pennsylvania’s most scenic vistas overlooking a bend in the Susquehanna River that was once occupied by the historical site known as the French Azilum, one of Pennsylvania’s most completely forgotten historical sites. Visit for both the breathtaking fall scenery and to brush up on your state history.
24. Pennsylvania Grand Canyon – 2 hr. 12 min.
This is probably THE destination for autumn foliage in Pennsylvania. Although the official name of this 47-mile canyon is Pine Creek Gorge, what has become known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon offers limitless opportunities for viewing autumn beauty with its miles and miles of trails, many beautiful waterfalls, and spectacular observational platforms.
Leonard Harrison State Park and Colton Point State Park are the places to start to head down into the gorge and the hike along the Pine Creek Rail Trail that follows the creek at the bottom of the gorge is a superb way to take in the magnificence.
25. Ralph Stover State Park -2 hr. 17 mins.
Ralph Stover State Park in Bucks County is a favorite park for many people mainly due to the amazing views of fall foliage from High Rocks, an area high above Tohickon Creek. High Rocks offers both amazing views from the hiking trail along the rim and from numerous overlooks.
26. Big Mountain Overlook – 2 hr. 23 mins.
Big Mountain Overlook has to be one of the most expansive vistas in PA with the valley stretching out before you seemingly to the end of the world. Located in Buchanan State Forest which borders Franklin and Fulton Counties, this point offers some of the most breathtaking views of fall foliage that you will find anywhere.