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When it comes to viewing the fall foliage, most people think of New England, and especially Vermont, where you can see trees with blazing red, orange and yellow leaves. New England definitely wins the title for the most spectacular foliage in the US.
Only few people know that Pennsylvania is not far behind New England when it comes to spectacular fall foliage. The colors in Pennsylvania are mostly colorful yellow and orange with some red trees in the mix.
As a matter of fact, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) claims: “Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation -- or anywhere in the world.”
For someone who has lived in Pittsburgh since 2003, I can attest that mother nature typically paints Southwestern Pennsylvania in spectacular colors for the first 3 weeks of October, with some nice colors already visible in late September among the still predominantly green foliage.
Most people and media will tell you that fall foliage viewing in Southwestern Pennsylvania is at its peak in mid-to-late October. At least for the Pittsburgh area, this is only sometimes true. In most years, the last week of October is beyond peak. At least, this is what my photos tell me that I have taken over the years.
Of course, factors like temperature and precipitation influence the timing of the peak colors. Periods of cooler weather lead to earlier color changes and it definitely makes sense to start looking for changing leaves after the first cool snap. Cool mornings and bright sunny days are the perfect ingredients for developing spectacular fall colors.
Good websites to consult are:
Pittsburgh with its many parks and vista points makes it easy to experience fantastic fall colors. While you can pretty much go to any park or wander through the streets on the hills outside of the Golden Triangle, I recognize that visitors need better directions.
So, for you, I am listing some of my favorite spots to see spectacular fall foliage and also some driving tours outside of Pittsburgh.
A special mention goes to the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, aka Pine Creek Gorge. It is the starting or end point of driving tour #3. If you have time, you may want to consider going there for 1-2 days. The views of the foliage are spectacular from the vista point and hiking there gets you close to all the colors.