As the peak of fall foliage spreads south and east across Pennsylvania, marking this week into next as the best viewing period of autumn 2021, driving into and through all those brilliant reds and oranges and yellows will be the preferred method of leaf peeping for many Pennsylvanians.
The Keystone State, with its many distinct regions and one of the longest fall-foliage periods found anywhere, offers a wide array of intriguing vehicular treks. Here are some of the best.https://0cf5fc6690861ab2312549531840c08b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0
Among the most interesting perspectives on fall foliage is the drive from the northerly view of the Cumberland Valley from the mansion-balcony overlook at Kings Gap State Park south of Carlisle north on Route 233 to the southerly view of the same landscape from the top of the Blue Mountain just north of Colonel Denning State Park. For a longer drive through additional regions and stages of fall foliage, in Green Park transfer to Route 74 and continue north to Port Royal.
I-81 from Harrisburg north to the New York state line at Great Bend is another drive into the face of fall, albeit a high-speed run with only sporadic opportunities to pull off and really drink in the autumn color. Several of the rest stops are positioned with prime long-distance viewscapes, and the views out over the Wyoming Valley in the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre metro area can be spectacular.
Although fall foliage is already past peak in some spots along Route 6, which slices across all of northern Pennsylvania from Milford west to Union City, it is the No. 1 fall foliage driving route in the state. Named by National Geographic as “One of America’s most scenic drives,” by National Geographic, the 400-mile route passes through natural wonders, small-town culture, history and heritage.
Another great northern drive, the Bucktail State Park Natural Area was established to protect much of the viewscape along Route 120 between Lock Haven and Renovo. The concept really proves itself when fall colors take hold in the dense forests of the region.
A great way to get to the southern terminus of the Bucktail is by Route 15 from Camp Hill to Lewisburg, then Route 477 to Williamsport, and finally Route 120 to Lock Haven. The route climbs and descends several mountains, but also spends much of its course snuggling its way along rivers.
Starting at roughly the same spot but angling to the west of Route 15, Route 322 from Duncannon to Clearfield cuts across several mountain ranges that space the autumn season, displaying increasing fall foliage to the north of each high place. The route is rich is overlooks, and one of the most amazing is at Lewistown’s Laurel Creek Reservoir, as Route 322 begins its climb over the Seven Mountains a few miles north of Milroy.
Drives to the west from central Pennsylvania can replicate the trek into fall of the those to the north, and one of the most spectacular follows Route 30 west from York to Bedford and then Route 31 west to Newton.https://0cf5fc6690861ab2312549531840c08b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0
The Buffalo and Penns valleys between Lewisburg and Boalsburg aren’t protected specifically for any viewscapes, but Route 45 passes through extensive forests, including Bald Eagle State Forest. Mifflinburg, one-time horse-drawn buggy capital of the U.S., lies along the route.
On the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River, Route 147 also follows the river north from near Duncannon to Montandon, where Route 405 continues the northbound drive to Route 220 and then to Route 154 to World’s End State Park, with its Loyalsock Canyon Vista.
The Delaware River and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area are the centerpieces for a drive along Route 209 from Millersburg through Pottsville, Jim Thorpe and East Stroudsburg to Milford. Jim Thorpe hosts Fall Foliage Weekends throughout October, with food, arts and crafts vendors, free music events at four venues throughout the downtown, and seasonal specials from restaurants and shops.
For brilliant fall color with farm country and picturesque villages, begin at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area on the Lebanon-Lancaster county line at Kleinfeltersville. Take Kleinfeltersville Road north to the village, then Route 897 west to Schaefferstown and Route 419 west to Cornwall. Finish by taking Route 117 west to Colebrook and then Route 241 west to Bainbridge.https://0cf5fc6690861ab2312549531840c08b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0
And my personal, annual-bucket-list, must drive for fall foliage is this: Route 325 east from Route 225 just north of Dauphin. Just west of the Dehart Reservoir, turn left/north onto Carsonville Road. Take that road over the mountain to Ridge Road, just south of Caronsville. Turn right/east onto Ridge Road and take that to Back Road. At the intersection with Powells Valley Road, stay straight (pretty much) onto Powells Valley Road. Take Powells Valley Road to the Glen at Lykens, where it becomes Glen Park Road. Take Glen Park Road to Market Street in Lykens. Turn right/north onto Market Street and take that street to Route 209. Turn right/east on Route 209 to Tower City. In Tower City turn right/south onto Route 325. Follow Route 325 to Gold Mine Road. Turn left/south onto Gold Mine Road and follow that route over two mountains to Route 443. Turn right/west onto Route 443 and continue that route through Swatara State Park and then through Fort Indiantown Gap and past the “back side” of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Racetrack and onto Fort Hunter. It’s a drive that is best done in mid-October in most years..https://0cf5fc6690861ab2312549531840c08b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0