The sunny days and cool nights of autumn set Ohio’s forests ablaze with color. The show should be spectacular this year, says David Parrott, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ fall color forecaster.
“This year, except for a few areas in northern Ohio, we’ve seen above-average precipitation through most of the state,” Parrott said in ODNR’s first fall color forecast video. “This supply of water through the growing season should have the trees healthy and ready to put on a color show.”
Cross your fingers for calm weather as October continues: “The best recipe for fall colors is bright sunny days, cool nights, and not too much rain or wind through the rest of September and October,” Parrott said.
Skip the crowds. The roads around and through Hocking Hills State Park can get crowded during October. You can leaf-peep right here in Athens County, or check out other southeast Ohio parks and preserves. We asked some folks who know a bit about forests to share their favorite places to enjoy fall color.
- Ron Cass, faculty member, Department of Natural Resources, Hocking College, says Strouds Run State Park and Lake Hope State Park are “hard to beat,” and recommends this loop across Hooper Ridge for a scenic fall drive. (Note: Hooper Ridge Road is closed between Henry Road/Twp. 340) and Bryson Road/Twp. 336 through the end of October. Bryson connects two points on Hooper Ridge, so you can use it to bypass the closure.)
“My favorite drive is SR 78 to McConnelsville — lunch at the Blue Dot and home via SR 550. It’s a great drive and takes a while.”
Download maps for Strouds Run and Lake Hope
- Ann Bonner, urban forester, Region 2, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, recommends Burr Oak State Park and the Desonier Nature Preserve in Carthage Township.
Download maps for Burr Oak State Park map and Desonier State Nature Preserve
- Julie Gee, Burr Oak State Park naturalist, seconds Strouds Run and Desonier State Nature Preserve and, for those visiting Burr Oak, specifically recommends visiting the marinas at Docks 1 and 4 for an “expansive view” across the lake. Gee also recommends following State Route 78 past Burr Oak for a scenic fall drive.
- Corinne here: When we lived in Amesville, we liked to visit Gifford State Forest, off SR 550. The smallest state forest, the preserve offers a nice little fishing pond, a picnic area, and 320 acres of rocky, forested hiking. Hunting is allowed in season, so wear blaze orange for safety.
Download a Gifford State Forest map
Know your trees! Ohio is home to dozens of tree species. Learn to distinguish a bur oak from a beech (and 67 other common species) using ODNR’s Trees of Ohio Field Guide.
We are interested about hearing news in our community! Let us know what's happening!
Get in touch and share a story!