Peak fall viewing this week

Andrea Rose
The colors of fall should be at their peak this week, but may not be as brilliant as other years. Many trees in Antrim Township are only beginning to turn, like these along the Conococheague Creek near Talhelm's.

Those who love to see the fabulous fall colors should get outdoors this week. "This week is the most exciting time for fall foliage across the state," said Ryan Reed, an environmental education specialist for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Reed said peak fall foliage is likely to come to Franklin County around Oct. 20. "One thing you'll notice in that region is you'll see some elevational differences. In the valleys, you're probably seeing a little bit of color versus the upland setting. It really does depend on what species of trees are in those regions."

Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than any other state in the nation or anywhere in the world. Only three regions of the world support deciduous forests that display fall autumn color: Eastern North America; the British Isles and parts of northwestern Europe; and Northeastern China and northern Japan.

Pennsylvania is the meeting ground of northern trees that flourish only on mountain tops farther south, such as gray and paper birch, mountain maple and mountain ash and southern species that are at the northern limits of their range, such as red oak, sweetbay and umbrella magnolias, sourwood, persimmon and sweetgum.

"We are very spoiled in this state," Reed said. "We have over 140 deciduous species of plants. That adds a tremendous amount of color."

Locally, Reed said walnuts are at peak, with a few red maples beginning to show, along with birches at forest edges.

He said the end of the month should be the peak for oak trees.

While peak time is coming, it may not be as brilliant as anticipated. "With all the rainfall we had throughout the summer, I thought it was setting the stage for a best ever display," Reed said. "It's too bad we didn't have a little bit of this recent rainfall in the last three or four weeks. I believe that would've helped. I believe some trees did a premature shedding of leaves because of this mini-draught we've been in."

For a complete updated report on fall foliage as the season continues, visit