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November 3, 2011

Our Guide To Viewing Gorgeous Fall Foliage In The Philadelphia Region: The Most Scenic Spots And How To Experience Them

From Valley Forge National Historical Park and George Washington's Crossing to historic covered bridges and bucolic riverside trails, Philadelphia and its countryside are literally teeming with gorgeous fall foliage everywhere you look. (Photo credits clockwise from top left: B. Krist for GPTMC, courtesy Valley Forge, courtesy Reflections by Ruth Photography)

Across the Philadelphia region, the leaves have turned from summer green to a colorful canvas of gorgeous yellows, oranges and reds.

But while stunning, fall is fleeting. Grab a group of friends or maybe a significant other, pack a picnic lunch, and head out to make the most of the autumn colors while they are at their most brilliant.

Here are a few of our favorite spots to view the fall foliage in Philadelphia and each of the city’s distinct and lush countryside regions:

Philadelphia

Forbidden Drive in the Wissahickon Gorge: Entry at Valley Green Road, where it dead ends into Forbidden Drive. Forbidden Drive runs parallel to Wissahickon Creek, through the heart of Fairmount Park, and got its name when it closed to cars in the 1920s. It offers amazing walking and foliage viewing without leaving the city.

Morris Arboretum: 100 Northwestern Avenue. With 92-acres of gardens to explore, Morris Arboretum is a spectacular setting for the beautiful colors of autumn. The historic grounds are home to thousands of plants, from gorgeous maples to dogwoods to oaks. Take advantage of the new weekend Wacky Walks to experience the foliage with a helpful guide and your family in tow.

Schuylkill River Trail: Along the banks of the Schuylkill River; multiple entry points on Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Drive. The twisting pathway along the Schuylkill River is a fantastic spot for a brisk fall walk. In addition to great foliage, the river trail features spectacular views of Boathouse Row, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philly skyline.

Bucks County

Delaware Canal State Park: 11 Lodi Hill Road, Upper Black Eddy. Revel in the brilliant fall colors while strolling the historic towpath that runs from Easton to Bristol. Once trod by mule teams pulling cargo-laden boats along the canal, the 60-mile towpath is used today by people looking for exercise and recreation.

Washington Crossing Historic Park: 1112 River Road, Upper Makefield Township. George Washington and his troops turned the tide of the American Revolution by crossing the Delaware River here in 1776. In addition to its extensive historic significance, Washington Crossing is also known for its wonderful outdoor trails and wildlife habitat.

A lot more, below.

Chester County

Longwood Gardens: 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square. The lush gardens, woodlands and meadows of Longwood Gardens are a welcome sight for fall color lovers. In addition to the outdoor landscape, make sure to check out the Chrysanthemum Festival taking place in the Conservatory through November 20.

Marsh Creek State Park: 675 Park Road, Downingtown. The 535-acre Marsh Creek Lake is a popular destination for boaters, but the surrounding forests, fields and wetlands are packed with fantastic trails perfect for a fall excursion.

Delaware County

Brandywine River Museum: 100 Creek Road, Chadds Ford. The artistic talents of the Wyeth family are on full display at this picturesque museum seated along the Brandywine River. Venture outside and see the beautiful countryside that inspired Andrew Wyeth to paint his signature landscapes.

Chaddsford Winery: 632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford. Nestled in the Brandywine Valley, the Chaddsford Winery is a wonderful spot for a fall excursion. Explore the lush landscape then warm up with an award-winning bottle from the winery.

Tyler Arboretum: 515 Painter Road, Media. Tyler Arboretum has been a refuge for tree lovers in the Philadelphia region since the days of William Penn. During autumn, its 650 acres are ablaze with seasonal color.

Montgomery County

Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary at Mill Grove: 1201 Pawlings Road, Audubon. Mill Grove, the home to American naturalist John James Audubon, is a haven for wildlife with a sprawling 175-acres of trails, woods and history. The woodlands are a haven for bird and leaf watchers alike.

Valley Forge National Historical Park: 1400 N. Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia. Once the headquarters of General George Washington’s Revolutionary army, this wonderfully tranquil park offers trails for jogging and biking and 3,600 acres of rolling hills of autumn beauty.

***We also have a few suggestions for how to take in the gorgeous regional fall foliage. Whether the perfect fall day involves a picnic basket or roller blades, a camera or a canvas, a convertible or a bicycle, here are some experiences that showcase the region’s beauty:

Drive along Route 32: Also known as River Road, this highway is one of the most scenic passages in the region. Stretching along the Delaware River through northern Bucks County, River Road is dotted with bed & breakfasts, country inns, wineries, small shops and of course, breathtaking foliage.

Covered Bridge Tour: You can take a driving tour of Bucks County’s 12 remaining covered bridges. It starts at the Memorial Building in Washington Crossing State Park on the Delaware River, but it makes a large circle through Bucks County so you can really start at any one of the bridges.

Hot Air Balloon Rides: Take a hot air balloon ride over the spread of reds, yellows and oranges of Philadelphia and its countryside. Sunrise, sunset or midday rides promise breathtaking views. Providers include: Lollipop Balloons, Inc. in Chester Springs; and United States Hot Air Balloon Team in St. Peters.

Bike/Running Trails: Bike and jog lanes cross through the heart of the city to link up with extensive trails in Fairmount Park and the surrounding countryside, providing a rich mix of urban excitement and open, rolling hills. Most popular is the 25-mile trail along the Schuylkill River on scenic Kelly Drive, which connects to Manayunk. The route can detour to the Wissahickon Gorge, where leafy pathways lead to Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Previously: The Gorgeous Fall Colors In Bucks County Featured In A Washington Post Travel Section Front-Page Spread

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Bob says:

Though they are a bit further: Going out to French Creek Park and St Peters might be nice (Possibly add a side trip up to the Pagoda and Blue Marsh near Reading). And if you’re into hiking (about an eight mile hike), hard to imagine a better local-ish leaf peeping view than The Pinnacle near Hamburg.

Bela Vora says:

beautiful pics! thanks for the post…Will definitely try and hit a few more sites next year!