From sprawling views of the Susquehanna River to lakeside vistas of surrounding mountains, southern Pennsylvania state parks have plenty of autumnal beauty to offer visitors.
While many plan their annual leaf peeping trips months in advance, there is still plenty of time to ready yourself and your traveling partners for a weekend getaway in southern Pennsylvania.
There are more than 20 state parks located in the southern region of the state – as defined by the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. There, you can find stunning scenery and all the yellow, orange and red leaves your fall heart desires.
Here are the top state parks in southern Pennsylvania to check out the fall colors.
Little Buffalo State Park
The bright autumn leaves in the trees surrounding Holman Lake at Little Buffalo State Park were what kicked off my love for the outdoors.
The 88-acre lake is great to lazily kayak or canoe around while taking in the majesty of the scenery. The bright colors of the trees reflected in the calm waters make for perfect leaf peeping.
For those leaf peepers that want to keep their shoes clean, you can find amazing views all over the 923-acre park – including the picturesque area by the boat launch and amphitheater.
For those that want to get their feet a little dirty, there are hiking trails that take you throughout the park and along Little Buffalo Creek. Check out the Little Buffalo Creek Trail and the Fisherman’s Trail.
Trough Creek State Park
Trough Creek State Park in Huntingdon County is a spectacular park that is perfect for leaf peeping.
Simply driving through the park, you will find stunning natural features that are highlighted by the beautiful fall colors. The hiking trails bring you to a number of features that show off the amazing beauty of this park. Take a hike to Rainbow Falls and Balanced Rock for great views and cool geological features.
The defining feature of this 541-acre park is the Great Trough Creek that cuts through Terrace Mountain. The main feature of the creek is Copperas Rocks is named for the coppery-yellow stain on the cliff surface. It is located just off the road, which makes getting ice Instagram pictures even easier.
Pine Grove Furnace State Park
While this blog is about the best places to leaf peep, I would be remiss if I did not mention everything Pine Grove Furnace State Park has to offer.
In addition to the plentiful leaf-peeping opportunities, there are areas to hike, bike, ski, swim and a lot more. The 696-acre park is at the northern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park also has two lakes – Laurel Lake and Fuller Lake. The park is also the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail – giving you the chance to hike on the historic trail.
I love Pine Grove Furnace State Park. It’s got a lot to offer, including a lot of places to see the leaves change colors in autumn.
Susquehannock State Park
Located along the scenic Lower Susquehanna River, Susquehannock State Park is great for experiencing fall colors with spectacular views.
The Lancaster County park complex is made up of four separate properties totaling 224 acres. Each of the areas offers incredible views of the river and surrounding wooded plateaus. Want to see the best autumn views?
Check out Hawk Point, Urey Overlook and Pinnacle Overlook – each found in different areas of the park complex.
Colonel Denning State Park
Colonel Denning State Park in Cumberland County is the perfect place to get away from the crowds and have some alone time with nature.
The 273-acre woodland park features plenty of trails and places to bathe in the majestic colors of fall. For an easy fall hike, take the Doubling Gap Nature Trail – a self-guided trail that has several educational waysides to explain the natural history found around a mountain stream. For a more difficult hike, take the Flat Rock Trail. This 2.5-mile rugged trail leads to the top of Blue Mountain in Tuscarora State Forest. This steep and rocky trail culminates at Flat Rock, a natural rock outcrop that provides a beautiful scenic vista of the Cumberland Valley.
The 3.5-acre Double Gap Lake is a great location to picnic, relax and take in the scenery.
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! Read more blog posts from Christian like his Three Pre-planned Park Trips for Your Fall Weekends and other PPFF guest bloggers on our News page.
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