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Ohio's Best Kept Secret
Vermont and New Hampshire may get more press, but residents of Northeast Ohio know that there is plenty of fall color in our part of the country. Leaves start their fall display in late September and continue on through October, with mid to late-October being the peak viewing time most years. Below are some favorite drives for viewing fall leaves.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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The Backroads of Ashtabula County
The extreme northeast corner of Ohio is one of the best places to view fall leaves. Try driving south on SR 534 from Geneva to Windsor. You'll be rewarded with miles of vineyards as well as two of the county's 18 covered bridges en route. Other scenic routes include SR 84 east from Madison to Ashtabula and SR 307 from SR 528 to Jefferson. There are also a number of apple farms for refreshment stops along the way.
Ashtabula County celebrates the season with the Covered Bridge Festival, held the 2nd weekend in October and the Geneva Grape Jam-boree (the last full weekend in September.)Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Ohio's only national park, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, is located between Cleveland and Akron and boasts some of the best displays of nature in our region. Autumn is no exception. Wherever you drive through the 33,000-acre park, you'll see bursts of red, yellow, orange and purple color. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources lists SR 303 (which bisects the park) as one of the best fall foliage drives in the Buckeye state.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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The Amish Country of Geauga County
Geauga County, located south of Lake and Ashtabula counties, is another great place to view the fall leaves. This largely-rural county rewards visitors with scenic farms, rolling hills, Amish communities and a host of antique stores. Try SR 322 from Chagrin Falls to Chardon as well as Big Creek Park and Swine Park. Mesopotamia, at the juncture of SR 534 and SR 322, is around colorful places to stop. The General Store there (pictured above) offered light meals as well as an array of Amish craft items, candy, cheese, housewares and other fun things. Nearby Middlefield is home to Middlefield Cheese Company, Mary Yoder's Amish Restaurant and a host of interesting shops.
The End of the Commons General Store
8719 State Route 5343
Mespotamia, OH 44439
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Rocky River Nature Center in North Olmsted
"Cleveland Scene" magazine calls the Rocky River Nature Center one of the best places to view fall leaves. Located near the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, this area offers plenty of hiking trails, river views and fascinating nature exhibits. The park is open dawn to dusk; the nature center is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.
Of course, the Nature Center isn't the only place to enjoy fall in the Cleveland Metroparks. The three golf courses stay open until the first heavy frost, the Marina at the mouth of the Rocky River in Lakewood is a popular fall fishing spot and the West Creek Reservation in Berea hosts a full schedule of fall events, including bi-weekly bonfires and nature walks.
Rocky River Nature Center
24000 Valley Parkway
North Olmsted, OH 44070
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Lanterman's Mill near Youngstown
Lanterman's Mill near Youngstown, part of the Mahoning County Metroparks system, makes another lovely fall outing from Cleveland. The historic mill there, built in 1845-1846, sits adjacent to the Mahoning River and still grinds out corn, wheat, and buckwheat much like it did nearly 200 years ago. Nearby is an authentic covered bridge, a beautiful waterfall and a gift shop where you can buy pancake mix and other products made right in the park.
Take the Gorge trail or the two-mile Mill trail to get an up-close view of the leaves.
1001 Canfield Rd. (SR 62)
Youngstown, OH 44511Continue to 7 of 11 below.
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The Ohio CanalWay throughout NE Ohio
The Ohio and Erie Canalway extends 110 miles from Lake Erie near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River to New Philadelphia. The continuous green space passes through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Akron, Canton, Massilon and Zoar Village before terminating at Zoar Bridge near New Philadelphia in Tuscarawas County. Many of the locks of the former commercial artery have been restored and a hiking and biking trail hugs the path of the former canal.
In autumn, the area is rich with vibrant leaves, gorges, historic buildings and more than 250 species of birds. One particularly nice way to explore the Canalway in via the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. During this season, the railroad offers a number of special fall trips, such as the Pumpkin Express, trips to the living history museum at Hale Farm and a special Halloween train.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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Chester Township near Chesterland
Chester Township in Geauga County, includes the communities of Chesterland and parts of Kirtland and Chardon. The area features rolling hills, horse farms, produce stands and lots of fall color. One of the most popular stops in this area is Patterson's Fruit Farm, which not only offers an abundance of apples and pumpkins, but hosts hayrides, a corn maze, and other fun autumn events.
Take Rte 322 east (Mayfield Road) from Gates Mills and you'll soon find yourself in the scenic countryside.
Pattersons Fruit Farm
11414 Caves Rd.
Chesterland, OH 44026
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Malabar Farm State Park Near Mansfield
Malabar Farm, located just outside of Mansfield Ohio, was built by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Bromfield. A best-selling writer in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, Bromfield was also a pioneer in sustainable farming. He created one of the country's first truly organic farms at Malabar. His house at Malabar Farm was the site of Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart's wedding and honeymoon as well as featured in the movie Shawshank Redemption.
During the fall, the farm (now a state park) features hay rides, special fall color hikes and barn dances. The farm market on the property also offers abundant apples, pumpkins, squash and other fall produce.
Malabar Farm State Park
4050 Bromfield Rd.
Lucas, OH 44843
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The Lake Erie Islands
Fall offers one last chance to enjoy South Bass, Middle Bass and Kelleys Islands before the cold weather shuts access off until the spring. Your efforts will be rewarded with fewer crowds, crisp fall lake air and a panorama of beautiful reds, yellows, oranges and purple leaves. In addition, the sunsets are much more vibrant during the cooler fall season.
Millers Ferry and Jet Express offer regular service to and from the islands through the end of November (weather permitting.) The campground at the State Park on South Bass Island and most of the private hotels and B&Bs also stay open til late November.
South Bass Island State Park
1523 Catawba Ave.
Put-in-Bay, OH 43456
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Mosquito Lake State Park near Burton
Located between Middlefield and Warren southeast of Cleveland, Mosquito Lake State Park features more than 2,400 acres of wooded and marshland as well as one of the largest lakes in the State of Ohio. Don't be put off by the name. This park is uncrowded and offers miles of trails for exploring the changing leaf colors.
Facilities at Mosquito Lake include a campground, cabins, and yurts for rent. There's also a boat dock, an equestrian center, an archery range and plenty of picnic areas.
The popular concert venue Nelson Ledges is just a 20-minute drive away.
Mosquito Lake State Park
1439 SR 305
Cortland, OH 44410