It’s one of the best shows in the country, if not the world.
And it’s right here, within walking, biking, kayaking or driving distance.
Plus, it’s free.
Top 10 ::Here are some places to enjoy the fall colors in Erie County, as well as other places nearby.
The display of Pennsylvania fall foliage is spectacular. The state wasn’t called Penn’s Woods for nothing. It has some of the best deciduous forests in the country – in the world, for that matter – and one of the longest fall foliage seasons in the country.
Photo gallery:52 views of the fall foliage of recent years
“Our number one asset for fall foliage is our diversity of trees. We have the perfect latitude as a meeting point for the forests of the north and south. There aren’t many places on Earth like this. said Ryan Reed, Natural Resources Program Specialist in the Forestry Bureau of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “We get the best of both worlds and the best colors from the palette.”
Anticipated forecast:A “synchronized symphony of colors” expected in Pennsylvania
Reed travels the state each fall and compiles reports from each area to post weekly foliage updates, including peak sighting forecasts, on the DCNR website at www.dcnr.pa .gov. He expected to start releasing the 2021 information on September 30.
The forests of northern Erie County, consisting of maple, aspen, ash, birch, and cherry trees, typically peak in color from early to mid-October. Further south, forests of oak, hickory and walnut trees follow one another from mid-October to early November.
The show of colors from north to south can last up to seven weeks.
“You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere in the world that has a longer color season,” Reed said.
Photo gallery:52 views of fall colors in recent years
Favorite places to enjoy the season in Erie County include Asbury Woods, Erie Bluffs State Park, Wintergreen Gorge, Frontier Park and Lake Erie Arboretum, Corry’s Mead Park and, of course, Presque Isle State Park.
“You can’t go wrong here in the fall. There are so many beautiful places. You can go to Presque Isle State Park on five different days and see things five different ways depending on the light,” said Jerry Skrypzak, Chairman of SONS Lake Erie, an organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of fishing on the lake and its tributaries.
For the lesser-known spots here and beyond, we asked Skrypzak and other local outdoor men and women to share their favorite places to enjoy the fall foliage:
To the cove
“I sort of gravitate towards places with water, and we have some nice parks and access areas, at Six-Mile Creek Park in Harborcreek, with a lot of woods there, and at Seven-Mile Creek. (Harborcreek) and Sixteen-Mile Creek to the North East.
“Elk Creek in western Erie County, with the tall cliffs on either side of the creek, is simply beautiful and easy to get to. Struchen Flats in Elk Creek, off Hwy 832 near Sterrettania, is the ‘one of my favorite places. It’s really pretty there. “
The water can reflect or contrast the fall colors.
“Edinboro Lake is another great place.”
– Jerry Skrypzak, President of SONS of Lake Erie
Best viewed by a dam site
Local dams and reservoirs are great places to view fall leaves.
“(You can walk) around Eaton Reservoir (Bull Dam), south of North East on Black Road; Six Mile Creek Park in Harborcreek, near Clark Road; Union City Dam, near Highway 97; and Union City Reservoir , near Highway 6.
“For canoeing or kayaking, LeBoeuf Creek is also excellent. It starts at Lake LeBoeuf (in Waterford) and winds south.
– Sue Murawski, President, Presque Isle Audubon Society
Bring color to state playgrounds
Some good places to view the leaves are on state game lands, with the caveat that you should be aware that hunters are also out at this time of year and it is a good idea to wear fluorescent orange.
“One of the nicest places to view the foliage is Game Lands 191 in Little Hope, south of the northeast. There are some really good hardwood species out there.
“Another great place that more people know about is Game Lands 109, near Perry Highway south of town.”
– Andy Hueser, Pennsylvania Game Commission State Game Ranger in Erie County
By bike, here and on the road
Take a fall ride on the region’s cycle paths to see the leaves up close and personal.
“These trails are about 8 to 15 miles long, and just about anyone, regardless of skill level, can hike them. Any one of them is great for enjoying the foliage.
“Scott Park (in Millcreek) is a good local walk, but you may want to avoid the twisty parts of the trail.”
The Bean’s Trailhead on the Ernst Bike Trail, off Route 322 in Meadville, is also good; trails at Maurice K. Goddard State Park in Mercer County; and the Allegheny Bike Trail, which runs from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland.
“The gold standard for small trails is the Sandy Creek Trail (in Franklin). There are bridges, curves and even a tunnel through the wilderness. My kids were fascinated by the trail when they were young. . It’s like a green tunnel and a multicolored tunnel in the fall. “
– Eric Brozell, Founding Member and Director, BikeErie
Nearby: elk and autumn-colored skywalking
The Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, County Elk, about a three-hour drive away, is a prime location for another fall show, as male elk protect their harems and offspring during the rutting season. The region is home to the largest elk herd in the eastern United States
“The elk with those huge and beautiful antlers come out to eat at dusk and dawn in the fields. They make that haunting, trumpeting sound. They are just beautiful, and with the mountains and all the oranges and yellows and red in the background is even better.
“You can park at the visitor center, set up a chair along the sidewalk, and enjoy the fall colors while you wait for the elk to emerge from the woods.”
Kinzua Bridge State Park near Kane in McKean County, about a two-hour drive, is named after the Kinzua Viaduct, the tallest railway bridge in the world for some time. Partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003, the remaining structure was reused as a skywalk in Kinzua Gorge.
“It’s beautiful, especially in the fall when the colors are beautiful.”
– Sue Scholz, Past President, Presque Isle Garden Club
More day trips for foliage fans
Locations in the Erie area are included on VisitPA.com’s list of the 10 Best Places to Enjoy Fall Foliage in Pennsylvania.
Here are the locations within easy reach for day trips:
- Allegheny National Forest in Warren, McKean, Elk and Forest counties;
- Oil Creek State Park, Venango County;
- And, of course, Presque Isle State Park in Erie County.
Other day trip destinations recommended by local outdoor enthusiasts include PA Route 6, from Erie County to Pike County in northeastern Pennsylvania; Pymatuning State Park in Crawford County; Cook Forest State Park in Clarion, Forest and Jefferson counties; and Cornplanter State Forest in Warren County.
And in neighboring Ashtabula County, Ohio, the Covered Bridge Festival, coveredbridgefestival.org, highlights 19 covered bridges during the foliage peak on the second weekend in October.