Where and when to see fall color in Ohio

Last updated: Oct. 22, 2015

Traditionally fall color in Ohio develops as described below, with peak fall color moving from north to south:

  • Northern Ohio: end of 2nd full week of October
  • Central Ohio: end of 3rd full week of October
  • Southern Ohio: toward the end of October

Oct. 21 — Oct. 27, 2015

According to Fall Color Report published by DiscoverOhio.com, most of the state has reached peak color. Exceptions include one site that’s just starting to change colors (Indian Lake State Park), eight sites that are approaching peak color (Harrison Lake State Park, Maumee State Park, John Bryan State Park, Burr Oak State Park, East Fork State Park, Stonelick State Park, Pike Lake State Park, and Paint Creek State Park), and four sites that are past peak color (Findley State Park, Salt Fork State Park, Hueston Woods State Park, and Tar Hollow State Park).

Fall Color Forecast for 2015:

Apparently this year’s heavy rains may cause peak fall color to arrive a little later in 2015 than usual, but if you compare this year’s forecast to the typical dates, it’s seems as though only the southern region is being delayed. Below is the fall color forecast released on Sept. 17, 2015 by Casey Burdick, spokesperson for the Ohio Division of Forestry.

Region of Ohio Peak Fall Color
Northern third mid-October
Central third end of the third full week of October
Southern third end of October and early November

We get our best fall color when there is a decent amount of rain throughout the growing season and when autumn days are bright and sunny, while autumn nights are cold, but not freezing.

Some of the earliest displays of fall color are seen in both Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper. The leaves of both of these vines turn red in the fall. The Ohio Buckeye Tree is one of the earliest trees to change colors, become golden in the fall.

A great way to keep track of the development of fall color across the state is to check out the Fall Color Report at DiscoverOhio.com. This page is updated weekly throughout the fall. It has a map of Ohio that is a bit like a weather map, but is marked by leaves that change color at different Ohio sites as the season progresses.

Great destinations include hilly terrain, shorelines, tree lines at the edge of fields, and fire towers. At TrekOhio we’ve posted a list of Ohio’s Scenic Overlooks that you might want to consider as possible viewing destinations. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) also publishes Fall Foliage Reports to help you find colorful, fall locales. Among other things, they suggest routes for Fall Color Driving Tours and identify some of the state’s fire towers that provide great views. If you live in or near Lake County, you might want to look at some of their suggested fall-color hikes.

The TrekOhio Store features your favorite TrekOhio -branded items such as T-shirts, hats, and water bottles. We also carry a 2016 Wall Calendar with photos from our hikes in the Hocking Hills.

Check it out at http://trekohio.com/store/

According to National Geographic’s article, Top 10 Places to See Autumn Leaves, Holmes County, Ohio is one of the top ten places in the world for enjoying fall color. If you like to cycle, there is an excellent bike trail in the county. The area is a well-known site to experience Amish culture, whether that be food or crafts.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is encouraging people to use the hashtag, #ohiofall15, when posting fall color photos to Facebook, or Instagram. ODNR will award branded walking sticks made from Ohio wood to those posting their favorite fall color photos. The contest is described in a little more detail here.

The Division of Forestry publishes weekly videos with updated information on the state’s fall color. Below I’ve embedded the Fall Color Forecast for 2015. If you’d like to watch it directly at YouTube, here’s the URL: https://youtu.be/SIYaeI5dxW4

If you’d like to see some of the places that we have visited in the fall, you can click on any of the photos below to find out more information.

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and TrekOhio.com 2012 to 2017

10 thoughts on “Where and when to see fall color in Ohio”

  1. Brian says:

    Is there a 2016 version of this?

    1. Deb Platt says:

      We did not update the article this year (2016), but the links to resources and basic information is still good.

  2. Mimi says:

    Highland County, Ohio, southwestern How about this area, approx. what day is peak for the leaves to change? thx!

    1. Deb Platt says:

      Mimi, sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier. We were just in Highland County yesterday, and I would say that it is currently at peak color.


    1. Deb Platt says:

      Stephen, it looks like most of Ohio is going to be at peak color this weekend. Check out the map at DiscoverOhio.com.

  4. Andrea Fraker says:

    Hello, this is a random request but wondering if anyone knows of a spectacular fall foliage location in Knox County for my family’s holiday card photo shoot? Thanks!

    1. Deb Platt says:

      It is actually difficult to shoot fall foliage when you are in the midst of a forest, and you can perhaps get better results viewing it from a distance. So places with hilltops vantage points, or fields with treelines, or bodies of water with trees around them, all make for good photo shoots. And of course you want to see forests with deciduous trees, not evergreens

      I haven’t been at the parks in Knox County at peak fall foliage, however some places that come to mind are Wolf Run and Honey Run Highlands Park. Although we haven’t written up Indianfield Bluffs, that might work, too (you can find its address on the Knox County page in our guide).

      Wolf Run has rolling hills and a mix of fields and forests. There is also an overlook and a pond.

      Pond at Wolf Run.

      Pond at Wolf Run.

      The observation deck at Wolf Run is located on the crest of the hill about 1/3 of the way over from the left.

      The observation deck at Wolf Run is located on the crest of the hill about 1/3 of the way over from the left.

      View from the observation deck at Wolf Run.

      View from the observation deck at Wolf Run.

      Indianfields Bluffs has a short trail. When I was there the leaves were not on the tree. Below is a photo of the bluffs. It is also possible to walk down to the edge of the water.

      The bluff at Indianfield Bluffs.

      The bluff at Indianfield Bluffs.

      Honey Run Highlands Park has low, rolling hills, open fields and forests (both deciduous and evergreen). Below is a photo.

      Overlooking field and forest.

      Overlooking field and forest.

      If you like cycling, the Kokosing Gap Trail is excellent (more information on the Knox County page).

  5. arnold says:

    what date do you suggest for the beginning of prime color foilage in Lima, Ohio

    1. Deb Platt says:

      Arnold, if this year’s fall color forecast turns out to be correct, peak color should be occurring in the northern third of Ohio (which I would say includes Lima) during the weekend of Oct. 17-18.

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