Where and when to see fall color in Ohio

Last updated: Sep. 1, 2017

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

At least that’s is how fall color develops in theory. However, in practice I have noticed that peak fall color often arrives in the second week of October for the majority of the state.

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.

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) encourages people to use a hashtag when posting fall photos on social media (like Facebook or Instagram). Generally, it is in the form of #ohiofall followed by the last two digits for the year. So for the current season this will probably be #ohiofall17. In the past ODRN has awarded prizes to some of the best photos. If they offer prizes for the current year, I will announce that here.

The Division of Forestry publishes weekly videos with updated information on the state’s fall color. Below I’ve embedded the last Fall Color Forecast for the previous year. If you’d like to watch it directly at YouTube, here’s the URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9MDcBdGNbU

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. 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. 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).

    1. 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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