Best Place for Fall Foliage is NW Ohio

Toledo Local Features  |  10/18/2010 7:00 am

Northwest Ohio’s most colorful season is in full swing. Chilly nights and cool days lead to bonfires, orchard trips, and the quintessential fall icon-- changing leaves. Set aside those brochures for Upstate New York and turn off the siren’s song that is the Pure Michigan ad campaign, and instead look much closer to home, perhaps literally your own back yard.

The fall color change is near or at peak across our portion of the state. Areas south of Toledo are already seeing the telltale signs of the season in its bright burgundy, gold, and mochas, while areas east and west of the city haven’t yet reached their height of beauty. The late turn this year is due mostly to unusually dry and hot summer conditions, but The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reports there’s still time to catch the colors.

One place you can visit now for a peek at the changing season is Van Buren State Park, which lies just north of Findlay, Ohio. The park’s focal point is a 45-acre lake, which is surrounded by dense woodlands packed with hiking and biking trails, pleasant places to sit and picnic.

If you can’t get out to see the sights until later this week and into next, your best bets are Maumee State Forest in the Oak Openings region, Harrison Lake State Park and Maumee Bay State Park.  Maumee State Forest is located in Swanton, Ohio and features over 60 miles of hiking trails and 8 miles of horseback riding trails with which to get your fall foliage fix. Harrison Lake State Park lies just a little farther west in Fayette, Ohio. The park’s 142-acre lake lies at the center, and serves a delightful purpose as changing trees along its banks are reflected in its calm waters.

Located on the western edge of the Toledo Metro area is Maumee Bay State Park. The park’s unique location offers guests both a look at its hundreds of acres of woodlands and marshes, in addition to it’s proximity to Lake Erie. The park has numerous outdoor activities that allow visitors to soak in the fall colors, like hiking, fishing and golfing. There are also opportunities to camp or rent cottages, in addition to staying at the resort-style Maumee Bay Lodge. The resort offers affordable deals and specials all throughout the season, which gives guests an opportunity to extend their fall color experience.

If a road trip is more your thing, the ODNR recommends several routes to maximize the fall foliage viewing potential. Following the Maumee River down State Route 65 (River Road) through Grand Rapids and ending in Defiance is always an easy, meandering path to follow. You could even stop off at Mary Jane Thurston State Park in McClure, which runs right along Route 65 and the Maumee River.

The ODNR also suggests beginning another road trip in Bowling Green, Ohio and following Pemberville Road northeast through Woodville, until it becomes State Route 105 in Woodville and 163 in Oak Harbor, finally  following 53 to the tip of Catawba Island. The ODNR also has a list of fall foliage road trips throughout the state which can be found below, along with links to a fall color map, Ohio State park and Maumee Bay State Park and lodge information.