It’s Octoberfestival time in Pennsylvania
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
It’s about time to haul that favorite sweatshirt out of summer storage, tie up the hiking boots and hit the trail to marvel at autumn’s leafy colors.
Some areas have already started their color change, including Davis, West Virginia, where the annual Leaf Peepers Festival has already come and gone. Closer to home, however, there is plenty of time to be amazed at the color, sniff the brisk autumn air, take a hike, a four-wheel tour in the car or visit a festival.
Davis is only four hours away, and color comes early to the mountains. The backroads of the area are laced with tiny, gravel or maybe paved one-lane roads that hug the ridges, making the passenger a bit uncomfortable. Spruce Knob is the highest point in the state at 4,800 feet, and a small dammed lake offers good fishing. Trails wander through Monongahela National Forest, getting hikers close to the color. Take a long dirt road to Dolly Sods, also part of the Monongahela Forest, where you can struggle over the mountain to Canaan Valley or Timberline Ski areas– if you have that kind of time. Canaan Valley Ski resort runs the lift all year, so a trip up the mountain to the para-gliding cliff is an exhilarating hour or two. And, you can walk down.
Blackwater Falls State Park is nearly a suburb of Davis and is loaded with hiking trails. Be sure not to miss Elakala Falls, which, while smaller than the big Blackwater Falls, is easily accessed. Blackwater is seen from a landing far above it.
Creatures are everywhere, including eagles, osprey, and deer by the thousands. Bear hunting season is going on now, so don’t wear black and be aware.
This weekend, the Fall Foliage Festival in Jim Thorpe kicks off a three-weekend event with its usual but colorful train rides through colorful forests. Free music, antiques, and the traditional festival food.
Already in progress, the Clarion Autumn Leaf Festival runs through this weekend, offering plane rides, train displays, art shows, free wine tasting and museum tours.
Elysburg’s Covered Bridge and Arts Festival kick-starts the weekend early, opening Thursday, October 5 and runs through the weekend at Knoebels Amusement Resort. Bus tours (now sold out) will take ticket holders to nine local covered bridges, while musicians and artisans do their thing at the park. Many of the park’s rides will also be open, and kids can ride horses, or pet the llamas.
Autumnfest at Seven Springs Resort in south-central Pennsylvania opens its three-weekend run with AutumnFest, where, according to the website, “Get your steins ready and don your lederhosens for a celebration of Germany’s world-famous Oktoberfest! Explore a mountain of German food, traditional German entertainment, beer tastings and more!” October 14-15 features the Chili Extravaganza, and October 21-22 is Kids Halloween. The chairlift to the mountaintop runs each weekend.
Bedford’s Fall Foliage Festival is expected to draw 70,000 people the next two weekends (October 7-8, 14-15) to its old Bedford Village with craftsman and musicians along the streets. A big draw is the two murder mystery evenings. The kids (and older kids) can try their hand at making scarecrows.
Just north of Gettysburg, the 51st Annual National Apple Harvest opens its two-weekend run October 7-8 in Arendtsville. Certainly one of the prime fall festivals in the state, the festival features chainsaw carvers, a half-dozen performance stages, Native American dancing, birds of prey, and of course, the much-loved apple butter, apple fritters, applesauce and other apple-centered delicacies.
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The Pennsylvania State Flaming Foliage Festival in Renovo opens October 13 for a weekend of beautiful colors in the north-central part of Pennsylvania. “For the last 67 years, nature has lent the colorful backdrop to this festival with great food, crafts, a queen’s coronation and a parade.”– from the website.
Just a few miles northeast of Williamsport is Forksville and the 37th Annual Sullivan County Fall Festival. Now, this friendly little town hosts the most compact and cozy festival in the state October 14-15 and is the home of the Mid-Atlantic National Chainsaw Carving Competition in addition to blacksmiths, quilt sales, ax throwing and juried crafts.
While you’re there, wander up the backroads through some beautiful autumn colors through Loyalsock State Forest, and maybe check out Ricketts Glen State Park, one of the most famous parks in the country for its color. The park has 22 named waterfalls, including the 94-foot Ganoga Falls, and a steep and rather treacherous foot trail that parallels the creek, offering some amazing views.
A suggestion, here, don’t go on the next few weekends because you’ll be one of a huge crowd. Parking is somewhat limited for the autumn leaf peepers, and you’ll have to hike to the hike.