One of the many rewards of living in Southwestern Pennsylvania is the ability to experience the beauty of fall foliage every year. The cooler temperatures and changing of the leaves encourages us to get out and enjoy the outdoors for just a little while longer, before the cold and snow of winter sets in. Here are my suggestions for the best ways to experience fall foliage around Pittsburgh.
Enjoy the View
499 Bailey Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
3505 Perrysville Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15214
The hilly topography of Southwestern Pennsylvania means we are provided with some great stages from which to enjoy the view. If you are in Pittsburgh, take some time to wander up to and around two of the city parks that really provide amazing panoramas. You can visit Grandview Park on Mount Washington for a sweeping view of the city and the hills that surround it. The park is part of the larger Emerald View Park that surrounds the hilltop on Mount Washington. The 235 -acre park was created in 2005 and continues to develop some of the best urban trails and park features in the country.
Another park with a view is Riverview Park on the North Side, first created in 1894 when the area was still Allegheny City. The hilltop Allegheny Observatory provides views of the stars, but for fall the 287 -acre park of wooded trails and dramatic hillsides offers vistas of the city and surrounding hills that can’t be beat.
The Great Allegheny Passage
Ghost Town Trail
1128 Blue Spruce Road
Indiana, PA 15701
A relaxing and intimate way to experience the change of the seasons is to take a bike trip along one of the many rail trails in our region. Whether for an hour or three days, biking along the wooded paths offers an unparalleled chance to contemplate and enjoy nature’s display. The Great Allegheny Passage is now open from the Waterfront in Homestead all the way to Cumberland, Md. The trail can accommodate your bike trip of any length and provides a variety of interesting views and adventures along the way. If you enjoy exploring small towns, bike into West Newton, Ohiopyle, or Meyersdale. If you’re looking for spectacular scenery, try out Dead Man’s Hollow between McKeesport and Boston or bike up to the Big Savage Tunnel just north of Frostburg, Md. for a stunning view of three states and the most gorgeous foliage. (*The tunnel closes with the weather, usually by late November.)
Another bike trail to check out is the Ghost Town Trail that travels over 35 miles from Black Lick to Ebensburg in Indiana and Cambria counties. The trail follows the rail lines that once serviced the iron furnaces and their towns through this part of the state. You’ll be surrounded by the foliage and rural character of the trail for a truly enjoyable day out. The Buena Vista and Eliza Furnaces, both built in the 1840s, still stand next to the trail and provide a glimpse of this long-dead industry that was once central to the region.
Finally, if you enjoy putting in some miles on the open road as part of your fall foliage experience, try a driving adventure through the Laurel Highlands. On the Lincoln Highway /Route 30 you’ll drive through an explosion of color and quirky roadside stops. The National Road/Route 40 travels for 45 miles through the historic legacy of our region. Take some time to visit Ft. Necessity National Battlefield and Mount Washington Tavern for a fun history lesson on the young George Washington and learn about the importance of the first national road. The Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway travels past the striking countryside, gorgeous Ohiopyle State Park, and architectural wonders like Fallingwater. Information on all of these rides can be found at www.laurelhighlands.org.
Sara Petyk loves showing off the city of Pittsburgh and the Great Allegheny Passage. Her tours of Pittsburgh and bike tour services for the Great Allegheny Passage can be found at www.youractivecity.com and www.Bike-the-GAP.com .