fall foliage destinations.

October 18, 2021

Did you know Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than anywhere else in the country? Natural Lands’ preserves are spectacular places to view the autumn display, including:

Bear Creek Preserve

An autumn landscape of colorful trees on hills under a blue sky. A clearing in the middle show a meadow and water.

Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli

In addition to the deciduous trees at Bear Creek, the dense thickets of highbush blueberries turn crimson as the weather cools. Take the Yellow Loop Trail to the scenic overlook, or for a longer hike, choose the Green Loop or Red Loop and make your way to the waterfalls. Honestly, just pulling in the parking lot here is magical.

Crow’s Nest Preserve

A drone landscape view of autumn forests and feilds covered with a light frost.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Hike along the preserve’s Deep Woods Trail and you’ll pass by piles of discarded granite cobblestones, evidence of an old quarry. You’ll emerge from this trail onto Northside Road, a sleepy country lane that was once frequented by love-struck youth on their way to the “courting tree.” Local legend has it that this majestic black gum—which turns crimson each fall—was where late 19th-century romances blossomed as beaus pushed young ladies on a swing tied to its broadly spreading branches.

This area once supplied wood for the nearby Hopewell Furnace, but it’s believed the tree—about 150 years old— was spared because gum wood was difficult to split down for the charring process.

Sadsbury Woods Preserve

Looking upward in the forest at the leaves of yellow trees with a blue sky above.

Photo: Alessandra Manzotti

Bring your binoculars! The preserve’s “interior woodlands” (defined as an area at least 300 feet from any edge, such as a road or meadow) are essential for migratory songbirds that winter in South America and summer in North America. To survive here, they need abundant food and protection from the weather and predators. The forests of Sadsbury Woods fill these needs quite well.

From the parking area, follow the Compass Quarry Trail for 1.5 miles to the remains of the old quarry. Bear left onto the Step Rocks Trail to access the step rocks themselves, a spectacular rock bluff that offers a great observation point to take in the colorful foliage.