I get it. You’re busy. You’ve got work and the kids. And you have that thing coming up that you can’t get out of. I feel your pain. You want to get out and spend some time seeing the beautiful fall foliage but you don’t have time to plan it. Don’t worry, I got you covered.
There’s nothing I enjoy more than planning a trip. I probably enjoy planning a trip more than actually going on the trip. And that’s why I made your upcoming fall weekends easy.
Below, you’ll find three weekend trips that will take you out to Pennsylvania’s beautiful parks when the trees change colors while also offering recommendations on where to eat, drink and have fun.
Parks – especially in Pennsylvania – take on a completely different sort of beauty in the fall. They light up – like a peacock showing its tail feathers. They transition from green to the brightest yellows, oranges and reds you’ve ever seen. It is beautiful and you deserve to spend a weekend exploring them.
Check out the three weekend trips I have planned below and start making some reservations.
It’s easy to make a case for Ohiopyle State Park being one of the best parks in the Commonwealth. It features waterfalls, bike trails, hiking trails and beautiful natural scenery. While I would argue there is no bad time to see Ohiopyle, I would highly recommend seeing it in the autumn.
The small town and park light up with the beautiful colors of fall. It is incredibly majestic and just a few hours away from where you live.
If you travel north, you’ll find an additional six state parks which also offer stunning fall scenery and opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Ferncliff Trail is a rocky trail that brings you within feet of the Ohiopyle Waterfall as well as several rapids in the Youghiogheny River.
If you like to discover as you pedal, there are 27 miles of bike trails and the Sugarloaf Snowmobile and Mountain Biking Area. There are more than 25 miles of mountain bike trails for the adventurous.
There’s also rock climbing, horseback riding, fishing and more to experience.
Food and drinks
The Falls Market Restaurant is one of the most popular food spots in town. Half of it is a restaurant and the other half is a convenience store. It’s a great place to grab a quick meal or snacks before hitting the trails.
The Falls City Pub is another great place to grab some grub before or after spending your day in the park. With indoor and outdoor seating available, you can order sandwiches, wraps, smoked meats and plenty more. There’s also a great selection of beers to choose from.
One of the most exciting things you can do is whitewater raft down the Youghiogheny River. From the Lower Yough, you’ll encounter numerous class III and IV rapids that make for exciting rafting that should only be attempted by experienced whitewater boaters.
The Middle Yough contains class I and II rapids ideal for beginners. You can search and find a company to schedule your whitewater adventures with.
If you don’t want the thrill of rafting down the chilly water of the Youghiogheny River, you can visit Fallingwater – the most famous building from architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Fallingwater “Guided Architectural Tour” provides visitors with in-depth information about the home, grounds, family and architect. This is one of the best tours I’ve ever been on and I highly recommend it.
One of the greatest places to celebrate the beauty of fall is in Wellsboro. The area is home to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon – featured prominently in both Colton Point and Leonard Harrison State Parks.
Numerous vistas provide the perfect setting to see the trees turn from green to magnificent yellows, oranges and reds. Venture down the Turkey Path at Leonard Harrison State Park to engulf yourself in the changing forests and beautiful waterfall.
Then head over to Colton Point State Park for incredible views of the Pine Creek Gorge. Do yourself a favor and visit the Bradley Wales Picnic Area. Located about 11 miles from Colton Point Picnic Area, the Bradley Wales Picnic Area can be found in the Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area.
The view is amazing. The scenic area offers views of the gorge, mountains, creek and much more. There’s also an area with picnic tables if you want to enjoy a meal with your view.
Food and drinks
After a day in the woods, head back to Wellsboro for a well-deserved meal. The historic Penn Wells Hotel is a great spot to grab a hearty meal. Head into the Lounge to pair your dinner with a flight of beers after deciding to stay in for the night.
The Wellsboro Diner is a great place to grab a quick breakfast or lunch. Their menu has plenty of options that will keep you fueled on your state park treks.
Ole Covered Wagon Tours in Wellsboro is the best in the business. Their “Classic Tour” will bring you through the Pine Creek Gorge over the course of two hours. The guide will provide information on animals, plants, trees, local lore and plenty of interesting history.
At the halfway point, you can hop out to take pictures, ask questions or just roam around your beautiful surroundings. My family and I still talk about the tour we took in 2021 and even have the picture they took of us framed.
One of my favorite things to do is browse the aisles of Pop’s Culture Shoppe. They offer a wide variety of board games, role-playing games, toys, gags and much more. I always find something to buy – whether it be vintage Dungeons and Dragons manuals or a new board game.
End your night at the Gas Light Bar and Grill – one of the few late-night spots in Wellsboro. They offer cheap beers and good conversations for those visiting from out of town. Be sure to stop by Friday or Saturday night when there’s live music.
Coudersport serves as a great home base while you visit any of the nearby six state parks that are less than a 45 minutes drive. Located in the Pennsylvania Wilds region, Coudersport is the perfect place to experience nature – whether that be looking for the largest wild elk herd in the northeastern U.S. or hiking in the Allegheny National Forest.
Lyman Run State Park makes for a scenic setting for the fall. This 595-acre park includes a hardwood forest made up of maples and cherries. The 45-acre Lyman Run Lake provides a spot for beautiful photographs.
Spend your nights in Cherry Springs State Park – one of the best places in the eastern U.S. for stargazing. Night sky enthusiasts flock to the park for its dark skies. There, you’ll get your opportunity to see great views of the Milky Way, planets, and hard-to-see astronomical objects and phenomena from your lawn chair.
Be sure to bring a red flashlight to get yourself around the Night Sky Public Viewing Area. Don’t be the person ruining everyone’s night vision with your bright cell phone light or flashlight. Don’t have a red light? No problem. Get yourself red lens repair tape and place it over your light source. Easy peasy!
Food and drinks
Dining options are a bit limited in the Coudersport region. Luckily, the Hotel Crittenden is home to so many incredible options that you’ll find no reason to find more places to chow down.
Get yourself a Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger with sweet potato French fries. Oh my. Just heaven.
Their Taproom serves an eclectic mix of Pennsylvania and New York Craft beers and ciders. They also feature a rotating selection of delicious house cocktails that will knock your socks off (in a good way).
While Coudersport is a small town, there are a number of things to do to keep you busy.
The first is the Eliot Ness Museum. Open only by appointment, the museum provides visitors with information on the legendary lawman, as well as law enforcement and criminals.
The Coudersport Ice Mine is an ice cave that forms icicles in the spring and summer but not in the winter. Unfortunately, the ice mine closes after Labor Day. So be sure to schedule a visit during the hotter months.
The creme de la creme of local places to visit is the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. This massive wooden structure houses hours of interesting and entertaining content about the lumber industry in Pennsylvania.
The museum is working to preserve and share the history of Pennsylvania’s forests, inspiring its audience to become better stewards of Pennsylvania’s forest resources and heritage.
The museum includes indoor and outdoor exhibits. Inside, you can take your time strolling through the exhibits and learning about an industry that’s meant so much to the Commonwealth. Then, you can head outside and walk through the lumber camp and Sustainable Forest Trail.
Don’t like any of my suggestions? No big deal! You change the itinerary to fit what you want to do. Go to a museum. Photograph the mountains while visiting vistas. (Safely) explore Pennsylvania’s wineries and breweries.
Just do something. Go out and see what Pennsylvania has to offer. I hope to see you out there.
Christian Alexandersen ran one mile in each of Pennsylvania’s 121 state parks in 2021 and has been sharing with us stories and tips from his journey! To read more blog posts from Christian and other PPFF guest bloggers, visit our News page.
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