Where and when to see fall color in Ohio

Horseback riders at Malabar Farms
Latest Update: 11/01/2018

According to the most recent fall color report, the following state parks are at peak color.

  • Southern Ohio:
    • Shawnee State Park
    • Scioto Trail State Park
    • Great Seal State Park
    • Tar Hollow State Park
  • Central Ohio:
    • Dillon State Park
    • Blue Rock State Park
  • Western Ohio:
    • Grand Lake St. Marys State Park
    • Harrison Lake State Park
  • Eastern Ohio:
    • Beaver Creek State Park
    • Guilford Lake State Park

The rest of the state is approaching peak color.

Beginning the last week of September, the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources shares information about the state of fall color throughout the state at Fall Color Report.

Typical Development of Fall Color in Ohio

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 (with the exception of trees along Lake Erie)
  • Central Ohio: end of 3rd full week of October (plus trees near the Lake Erie shoreline)
  • Southern Ohio: toward the end of October and possibly the beginning of November

At least that’s is how fall color develops in theory. In practice I have noticed that peak fall color often arrives at the end of the second full week of October throughout much 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 these two vines: Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper, both of which can turn bright red. Among early changing trees are the sycamore and cottonwood. These trees are found in low-lying areas and turn yellow. And the Ohio Buckeye Tree also shows color early, with leaves varying from golden to red hues.

At near peak fall color the leaves on our hickory and yellow poplar trees turn yellow. Maple trees often show off dazzling reds.

Online Fall Color Report

A great way to keep track of the development of fall color across the state is to check out the Fall Color Report at Ohio.org. 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.

Where to View Fall Color

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.

Stuff to do this Fall

Check out Ohio.org/Fallidays for ideas on Getaways, seasonal events, activities, discovering haunted Ohio, and more. For a fun, family activity in October, consider a Halloween campout. For campouts and other activities, check out our list of Halloween Events at Ohio Parks for 2018.

Sharing Your Photos

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) encourages people to use one of the following hashtags when posting fall photos on social media: #FallidaysInOhio, or #OhioFall18. Our state park system is also offering a photo contest going on that is not limited to fall color photos. Photos can be submitted in one of six different categories:

  • Places to Stay
  • Scenic Locations
  • Families in the Park
  • Park Activities
  • On the Water
  • Year of the Trail

For details on the photo contest, check out OhioStateParksPhotoContest.com.

Videos from the Division of Forestry

The Division of Forestry typically publishes weekly videos with current information on the state’s fall color. Below is the most recent one for 2018:

If you’d like to watch it directly at YouTube, here’s the URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LztGpaFePVg

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, or you can look at a more extensive list of TrekOhio posts on fall color.



© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and TrekOhio.com 2012 to 2021

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

  1. Your third report would have actually been helpful if I knew what cities your guest was referring to in her recommendations. Just because she knows what cities they are in doesn’t mean your audience does. As it was she was of no value.

  2. 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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