The beginning of October ushers in a display of colors, as Ohio steps into its annual fall color transformation. Half of this beautiful state is farmland, and the other half is an intricate mix of forest and residential areas. Such a layout creates a perfect canvas for autumn brush strokes. Look for the pumpkin-orange fall leaves of the Ohio buckeye early in the season and for the yellow foliage of cottonwoods and sycamores soon after. To get the most out of the fall foliage season in Ohio, join fall color tours, taste the fall harvest, smell the aroma of apple butter, and drive the scenic roads. So grab a sweater and explore the natural beauty of autumn-kissed forests and parks of Ohio.
Best time for fall foliage in Ohio
The northern parts of Ohio are the first to welcome fall colors in early October, followed by Central Ohio in mid-October, and southern and western areas of the state celebrate the grand fall color finale in early November. Make sure to check the Ohio Fall Colors Forecast by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to be in the right place at the right time.
Best places to see fall colors in Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park in northern Ohio, between the cities of Akron and Cleveland, offers excellent autumn views. For a great leaf peeping adventure, take a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (between Independence Rockside Station and Akron Northside Station) or go cycling, running, or strolling on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. A favorite among visitors is Blue Hen Falls, a sandstone-and-shale waterfall that you can easily reach with a short hike. About an hour drive east of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, you could take one of the best shots of fall colors in Ohio at Lanterman's Mill and Falls in Mill Creek Park in Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio. The trail to this postcard-view waterfall follows Mill Creek. The area is home to scenic trails, bike paths, lakes and ponds, bridges, and gardens. Make a stop at Lake Glacier and Lily Pond for beautiful reflections of autumn leaves in the water. Rocky River Reservation spans several cities and boasts massive shale cliffs rising above the sycamore and cottonwood trees. The variety of trees offers a rich palette of fall foliage. Trails twist and turn through the valley's forests and meadows. Pay a visit to Berea Falls, an urban waterfall treasure and an ideal spot for the changes of the season as it's surrounded by trees. For the best views of the fall colors at Rocky River Reservation, climb the Fort Hill Stairs above the east and west branches of the Rocky River. Hocking Hills State Park is another scenic area to explore Ohio's fall colors from a comfortably heated coach or one of the open-air cars of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. After a two-hour authentic train ride, visit the Ohio Railway Museum in Worthington for a ride on the Ghost Trolley. Hocking Hills State Park and the areas around it offer lots of hiking and biking trails. You might also want to stop by Apple House in Laurelville for a cup of apple cider. Spare a few hours for Conkle's Hollow State Nature Preserve, just a few miles away from Hocking Hills State Park. The area's sheer cliffs of Black Hand sandstone rise about 200 ft (60 m) above the valley floor. The deep, cool gorge conceals several waterfalls cascading over the sandstone cliffs. Hike the Conkle's Hollow Rim Trail for majestic overlooks to view the beauty of the season at its best. Ohio Amish Country is scattered across the rolling hills of east-central Ohio. Plug into the peace of the traditional Amish areas of the state. Ohio Amish Country consists of several counties: Holmes, Coshocton, and Wayne Counties. You can spend your fall vacation here canoeing on the Mohican River, hiking the Mohican Valley Trail, riding horses, shopping for handmade products, eating locally produced food, sharing the road with horse-drawn carriages, and stopping at roadside farm stands. Drop by the Bridge of Dreams, a National Landmark, the second-largest covered bridge in the US.