Week Six: Pennsylvania fall foliage reports

Weather Headlines

To predict peak season from the colors, use these guidelines: 

➢ Dark Green/No Change= peak is three weeks to a month away 

➢ Light Green/Starting to Change= peak is approximately two to three weeks away 

➢ Yellow/Approaching Best Color= peak is approximately one week away 

➢ Orange/Best Color= foliage is peaking this week 

➢ Red/Starting to Fade= still some nice color but won’t last more than a few more days 

➢ Brown/Past Peak= all or nearly all color is gone 

Statewide Fall Foliage Overview 

The arrival of the remnants of Hurricane Zeta will likely bring the season to a rapid halt. This week’s report will be the final installment for the year, ending reporting on what has been an exceptionally vivid fall foliage season in Penn’s Woods.

Northcentral Region

Forestry staff in Moshannon State Forest reported most species are well beyond peak. Beech, birches, and larch are showing golden yellow color but are fading fast. Oaks are at peak with yellow, burnt-orange, and occasionally red colors observed. Recommended scenic drives include routes 555, 255, and Julian Pike.

Foresters in Sproul State Forest (Clinton, Centre counties) reported that most leaves are down in the district, indicating the end of fall foliage season in the area. 

In Elk State Forest, northern hardwood trees have essentially lost all their foliage. Oak stands still have some color, but today’s rain and wind could strip many more leaves. 

Foresters reported fading and past peak color in Tiadaghton State Forest. Deep orange and copper of oaks are the dominant colors, with speckles of yellow from the hickories, black walnut, and aspen in the valleys. Many trees are bare, however large stands of oak are still displaying color. Witch hazel is in full bloom, showing bright yellow along most forest roads. 

West-central and Southwestern Regions

Foresters in Gallitzin State Forest (Cambria, Somerset, Blair counties) observed past peak conditions in the district. Although some nice color remained on oaks, hickories, and poplars, today’s rain is compelling many leaves to the forest floor. 

Forbes State Forest staff stated that leaf drop continues across the Laurel Highlands with oaks still showing nice color. Significant leaf drop has occurred, and this trend will continue into November. Today’s rain and wind will speed up this process. 

For late season fall foliage enthusiasts, there are still good foliage viewing opportunities available in southwestern Pennsylvania. Sightseers should focus on oak- dominated forests if they plan to visit the Laurel Highlands as these are the primary sources of color remaining in the higher elevations. Look for sheltered areas that receive less wind. Yellow poplar and American beech continue to add yellows and golden browns to the late season display. Visitors to Allegheny, Washington, and Greene counties will see past peak fall color. The lower elevations of these counties will display the longest lasting color. 

Central and Southcentral Regions

In Buchanan State Forest (Franklin, Fulton, Bedford counties), excellent fall color remained early this week. Hickories were by far the most vivid species, adding bright gold and yellow along the ridges. Oaks were also displaying a wide variety of colors ranging from yellow to crimson. Stormy weather could significantly cut short the fall display.

In the northern section of Rothrock State Forest, foliage is past peak. Oaks are late-peak stage and leaf drop is expected soon. The fall colors are fading fast, but there is still some beautiful foliage. Many ridgetops are almost bare, but the valleys could show color for another week. The southern half of the district will be the best place to see color now. Still vivid color was observed at Trough Creek and Raystown Lake where hickories are abundant. Mountains surrounding routes 994 and 26 were awash with vibrant, golden hickory color over the weekend. The storm system today could abruptly end fall color, unfortunately

Foresters in Michaux State Forest related that the fall foliage season is “winding down.” Recent wind and rain knocked down many leaves. White and scarlet oaks are still showing pretty fall color. A hike on Buck Ridge Trail, where oaks are common, is recommended for viewing some of the last of autumn’s display.

Find the full report here.

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