By Hilary Gunn
There are few things more dazzling than when the leaves begin to change, and a crispness enters the air. For residents of the Keystone State, viewing foliage is as easy as looking out the window or going for a short drive, but there’s nothing quite like being in the thick of things and viewing that annual explosion of color from the inside out. Get a whole new view on autumn’s art, and some exercise while you’re at it, with our picks for best foliage hiking in Pennsylvania!
If you’re looking to dig into a longer hike, the Beaver Meadows Hiking Trail System is a tremendous option in the Pennsylvanian Northwest. A collection of quality trails, including the Beaver Meadows Loop, Seldom Seen Trail, Salmon Creek Loop, Penoke Path, and the Lakeside Loop, allow for a stunning variety of terrain and views. Truly a treasure of the Keystone State, the Beaver Meadow’s Hiking Trail System measures just over seven miles of accessible terrain, and makes for some of the best leaf peeping in the state.
Many of the trails at Big Pocono State Park are steep, as it is a mountaintop. If you are a highly inexperienced hiker, you may want to practice with some easier hikes before you visit. Indian Trail is a stunning trek, offering a beautiful vista from the eastern cliffs. During the fall, this park truly comes to life with vibrant color.
Another phenomenal opportunity to combine important national and state history with a beautiful day in the great outdoors, the four-mile Johnny Reb Trail at Gettysburg National Military Park is tough to beat. The trail was arranged by the local Boy Scouts of America Council, and aims to serve as a Confederate’s-eye view of the battle of Gettysburg. Experience the monuments and landmarks of this pivotal battle, set against nature’s most beautiful display—a transformational experience to be remembered for years to come.
Another shining opportunity for a longer hike, the Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose National Recreation Trail combines the grandeur of fall foliage with the stunning beauty of Lake Erie. Measuring in at 13.5 miles, this trail brings you the best of Presque Isle State Park with one convenient trek. Spot the leaves reflected against the incredible waters of Lake Erie, and even take a breathtaking break on the beach with one of the best foliage hikes in Pennsylvania! This trail is also ADA accessible.
The magnificent, sprawling Rothrock State Forest boasts nearly 300 miles of hiking trails over 215,000 beautiful acres. The Mid-State Trail is a 326-mile cross-country trail that stretches from Green Ridge State Forest in Maryland to the Finger Lakes trail in New York. Roughly 42 miles of the trail winds through Rothrock. This trail can be rather rugged and difficult for the inexperienced, so come prepared. Sixteen miles of the 70-mile-long Standing Stone Trail also meanders through this state forest. This hiking here is also fairly rugged, but it affords some glorious views and interesting geologic formations.