6 Best Fall Foliage Drives in Western Pennsylvania

 Just about anywhere you look in rolling and wooded western Pennsylvania in the fall, you will be rewarded with postcard-perfect views of brilliantly turning leaves. But taking a drive makes this experience memorable. So fuel up and jump in the car for some fantastic fall views on these short road trips through beautiful country.

01 of 06

Raccoon Creek State Park to Waynesburg

Fall foliage in Raccoon Creek State Park

Holly Heinrich/Raccoon Creek State Park

Enjoy the fall fireworks in Pennsylvania's southwestern corner with this fall foliage driving tour that begins at the beautiful 7,000-acre Raccoon Creek State Park. From there, you'll meander south through rolling hills and miles of farmland on Pennsylvania State Route 18 through Washington, ending in Waynesburg, Greene County. This trip will take you past many area farmers markets where you can buy everything from pumpkins to fresh-pressed apple cider. If you have time for a few detours, search out some of Greene County's beautiful covered bridges. Another detour that is well worth the time is Meadowcroft Village, reached by taking State Route 50 west toward Avella and following the signs. Meadowcroft Village recreates a 1890s community with a collection of historic buildings moved to the location from around western Pennsylvania As a special treat, the nearby Meadowcroft Rock Shelter, the oldest archaeological site in North America, generally offers an insider tour each November; reservations are required.

Location: Southwestern Pennsylvania

Distance: 58 miles

02 of 06

New Castle to Slippery Rock

Moraine State Park peak fall color

Krishna N/Getty Images

This 16-mile fall foliage drive down Pennsylvania State Route 108 from historic New Castle to Slippery Rock offers a breathtaking display of shimmering yellow maples and brilliant red oaks. If you love historic houses, start your day with a self-guided walking tour of the historic homes of New Castle, Pennsylvania.

Just outside of Slippery Rock, take the time to stop and tour the beautiful old grist mill at McConnell's Mill State Park, where you will also find scenic walking and hiking trails along Slippery Rock Creek, including a charming covered bridge. Nearby Moraine State Park is also well worth a visit. The peaceful roads through the park are lined with a variety of trees decked out in their fall best. The 3,000-acre Lake Arthur also offers the opportunity for a naturalist-led fall foliage boat tour. Picnic areas and miles of hiking and biking trails give you an entire day's worth of fall recreation.

 Location: Northwestern Pennsylvania

Distance: 16 mile

03 of 06

The Lincoln Highway

US, Pennsylvania, Bedford County, fall foliage


KAREN BLEIER/Getty Images 

If you want to make a day of it, this beautiful 76-mile fall drive through southwestern Pennsylvania's Heritage Corridor might be just the ticket. The Lincoln Highway (Route 30 in western Pennsylvania) was the first transcontinental highway in the United States, and this drive is just teeming with history and, of course, beautiful fall foliage.

Begin your tour in Irwin, Westmoreland County, heading east on Route 30. The road follows the fast-moving Loyalhanna Creek through the gorgeous Chestnut Ridge before coming to the charming town of Ligonier. Nearby, Fort Ligonier is an on-site reconstruction of a British fort from the French and Indian War with a modern museum. Continue on Route 30 through Jennerstown toward Bedford. About 10 miles west of Bedford, the gorgeous landscape of Shawnee State Park beckons as a wonderful place to stop off for a picnic. Just past the park outside of the small town of Manns Choice, you'll find Coral Caverns, the only fossilized coral reef cavern known to be in existence. Coral Caverns is open for tours on weekends in October, so consider a stop and don't forget your camera. Then get in your car and continue the drive to the historic town of Bedford, with houses and churches that will remind you of colonial America. While in Bedford, make time for a stop at Old Bedford Village or the Bedford County Fall Foliage Festival.

Want more? A delightful 1.5-hour side trip will take you on a tour of six of Bedford County's 14 covered bridges.

 Location: Northwestern Pennsylvania

Distance: 16 miles

04 of 06

The Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway

Scenic view of Allegheny Mountains in the Laurel Highlands from Kentuk Knob


Richard T. Nowitz/Getty Images 

For the best variety of trees and foliage, try this tour through Pennsylvania's Southern Laurel Highlands. The 68-mile drive along the Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway is a journey that will delight the senses. From rolling hillsides to rushing waterfalls, picturesque farmlands to architectural wonders, the Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway has it all. Beautifully maintained bicycle and walking trails beckon you to get out of your car and enjoy the beautiful fall show first-hand. There is so much to see along the way that you might even want to plan on an extended stay. If you're pressed for time, the 14-mile section between Farmington and Mill Run, through Ohiopyle State Park on 381, is the most beautiful.

There are so many attractions along the way that are worth a visit that it is hard to know where to start. Ohiopyle State Park, the gorgeous Youghiogheny River, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater all don't-miss stops. Other Fayette County attractions include Kentuck Knob, Laurel Caverns Geological Park, and the Fort Necessity Battlefield. If you're hungry, stop for a delicious dinner at the historic Stone House Inn (circa 1822) on Route 40 outside of Farmington. If it's a weekend, you might need reservations.

Location: Southwestern Pennsylvania

Distance: 68 miles

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06

Elk & Clinton County Scenic Loop

Susquehanna River Valley

Posnov/Getty Images

A favorite loop for many foliage fanatics, this drive takes about two hours and goes right through the heart of Pennsylvania's elk herd (autumn is a particularly good time to hear the bugle call of the elk). This scenic drive begins at St. Mary's on Pennsylvania Route 120, travels through Bucktail State Park, Lock Haven, Renovo, and the mountains of Emporium along the west branch of the Susquehanna River and the Sinnemahoning Creek and back to St. Mary's on Pennsylvania 255. The fall colors are breathtaking, and people drive many miles to attend the Flaming Foliage Festival at Renovo the second weekend of October. If shopping is your passion, allow time to visit the Woolrich Outlet Store in nearby Woolrich. A nice detour if you want great fall photos is Hyner View State Park in Clinton County, a popular and dramatic location for viewing turning leaves.

Location: Northwestern Pennsylvania

Distance: About 80 miles

06 of 06

Longhouse National Scenic Byway

Allegheny Mountains in Autumn

Ross M. Horowitz/Getty Images

Arguably one of the most scenic roads in Pennsylvania, the Longhouse National Scenic Byway in northwest Pennsylvania is a meandering 55-mile loop through the heart of the Allegheny National Forest with plenty of breathtaking overlooks for great fall photos. The fall foliage drive begins in Warren via U.S. 6 East. Just out of town, turn left on Pennsylvania State Route 59, which follows the Allegheny River to the Kinzua Dam, where you turn right onto the Longhouse Scenic Drive.

Along the route, you will pass the Jakes Rock Overlook and Kiasutha Recreation Area, each with beautiful picnic areas and stunning fall foliage.

At this point you have two choices:

  • Shorter Loop: Just past Kiasutha make a left-hand turn onto scenic  State Route 321 and follow it to the Bradford District Ranger office, where you will find yourself back on State Route 59. Turn left to return to Warren. Along the way, the Rimrock Overlook offers a picnic area and stunning fall foliage and views.
  • Longer Loop: Turn right onto State Route 321 and follow it to Kane, where you pick up U.S. 6 East to Mount Jewett. Turn left to Kinzua Bridge State Park, where the Kinzua Viaduct, the centerpiece of the park, rises 301 feet from the valley floor, offering views of more than 15 miles on a clear day and breathtaking autumn views. Resume your trip by heading north out of the park to State Route 59, where you'll turn left and return to Warren. If you have time, the Rimrock Overlook offers a picnic area and more beautiful fall leaves.

Location: Northwestern Pennsylvania

Distance: About 80 miles