This year the beginning of fall comes on September 23, and soon enough, the Delaware Valley will be transformed into a watercolor painting of reds, oranges, and yellows. Autumn’s crisp, cool air is perfect for exploring parks, mountains, and valleys full of changing leaves in the Keystone State. Southeastern Pennsylvania's small, accessible mountains and plethora of historic parks offer a number of options for leaf peepers to experience some of the east coast's finest foliage. It’s important to note that peak foliage time for the greater Philadelphia area is late-October, but areas north will peak even earlier. So grab your hiking boots, your friends, and a camera, and head to one of these fine fall foliage destinations near Philadelphia this weekend.
1. The Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock
The Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock are two amazing vistas on one of the most popular and beautiful hikes on the Pennsylvania portion of the Appalachian Trail. A moderate to difficult 9.2-mile rocky hike is required to reach the top, but it's worth the effort. Once at the top, hikers will be greeted by beautiful autumn vistas of the Pocono mountains at both lookouts. The best part is, this hike is only 90 minutes from Philadelphia.
For best access, park at the Hamburg Reservoir, hike up the dirt road about a half mile until it intersects with the Appalachian Trail, then turn left on the AT. The white-blazed AT trail is technical and rocky, so be sure to wear hiking boots or trail running shoes. Plan to spend at least four hours round-trip on this gorgeous, challenging hike.
2. Valley Forge National Historic Park
Located only 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia, Valley Forge National Historic Park is not only one of greater Philadelphia’s most visited tourist destinations, but is also one of the best places to view changing leaves in autumn. If you’re bringing a stroller or kids, take a leisurely stroll on the 5-mile Joseph Plumb Martin trail—a paved, multi-use path that circles the park. Or take your bike and ride a loop or two instead. If you're in the mood for an even better view and more strenuous activity, hike Mount Misery or Mount Joy, which both offer beautiful views of colorful trees in the distance. For more information, visit the National Parks Service .
3. Bowman's Hill Tower at Washington Crossing
Located about an hour northeast of Philadelphia, Washington Crossing Historic Park contains 500 acres of preserved land on the Delaware River in Bucks County, including the location where George Washington crossed the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War. Bowman’s Hill Tower sits inside the park, rising 125 feet above the hallowed ground below. On a clear day, visitors can see for 14 miles into the horizon, offering an endless view of colorful foliage this fall. On your way home, make sure to take Route 32 back to Philly—you won't want to miss the fall colors on this shaded, scenic highway.
4. Lorimer Park
At 230 acres, Lorimer Park may be small compared to some of greater Philadelphia's other parks, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in beautiful foliage. This fall, head to Huntingdon Valley in Montgomery County, just across the Northeast Philadelphia border. Lorimer Park is an easy day trip from the city, and is far less crowded than other parks in the area.
George Horace Lorimer, former editor-in-chief of The Saturday Evening Post, donated the land to Montgomery County to be used "for the enjoyment of natural beauty." The southern end of the park contains rolling hills and wide, crushed-stone trails that wind through the trees. Be sure to check out the fence line trail, which runs along the border of Fox Chase Farm. The northern portion of the trail is home to Council Rock, a high-rock plateau above Pennypack Creek, which provides beautiful views of foliage below.