Leaf-peepers have their pick in central Pa.

Fall colors are reflected in the pond on the Penn Nursery grounds.
Fall colors are reflected in the pond on the Penn Nursery grounds. CDT file photo

When it comes to fall in Pennsylvania, there’s something that other states are hard-pressed to rival.

Sure, Keystone Staters might long for Florida or Arizona in the midst of an icy winter. We might pine for sandy beaches in July. But when autumn chill hits, central Pennsylvania is the place to be.

Why? Because that is when our riches literally grow on trees. Come October, the green leaves turn to flames of topaz, ruby and gold.

And taking in that scenery is a popular pastime.

The state’s tourism website, www.visitpa.com, lets prospective leaf-peepers in on just where to take in the beautiful landscapes, saying the northernmost areas turn in early October, with the middle and western portions of the state turning in mid-October and the southern tier going gold around Halloween.

Close to Centre County, one of the best celebrations of the season comes with the Pennsylvania State Flaming Foliage Festival in Renovo in Clinton County. This year’s event will be held Oct. 9-11.

Then there are all those state park trees.

According to the state Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, Centre County’s Bald Eagle State Forest sports blackgum, red maple and black birch trees, which will turn before the park’s oak trees.

Rothrock State Forest, also in the county, has tuliptree, hickory and aspen.

“Pennsylvania is the meeting ground of northern trees that flourish only on mountaintops farther south and southern species that are at the northern limits of their range. Gray and paper birch, mountain maple and mountain ash from the north share Penn’s Woods with southern red oak, sweetbay and umbrella magnolias, sourwood, persimmon and sweetgum from the south. Ohio buckeye, bur oak and shingle oak, common to the Mississippi Valley, have eastern outposts on the Allegheny Plateau,” according to DCNR.