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Best Places to Enjoy Fall Foliage in the Lehigh Valley

By: Megan McMichael

As the temporary stages from Musikfest are taken down and the temperature drops, one might wonder if the energy in the Lehigh Valley wanes at the end of the summer. But, luckily for residents and visitors alike, the area famous for its summer and holiday attractions has many splendors to behold all throughout the fall season as well. And while it’s true that many outdoor attractions are winding down and closing up shop, the season for leaf peeping has only just begun.

The fireworks don’t end after the Fourth of July celebrations; on the contrary, as autumn steals across the Valley you can see explosions of reds, yellows, and oranges in every wooded area. One of my favorite ways to experience these breathtaking colors is by hiking to some of the many scenic vistas afforded by the Valley’s topography.

  • Appalachian Trail: You can’t talk about hiking near the Lehigh Valley without mentioning the Appalachian Trail (AT). Without a doubt one of the most famous trails in the northeast, the AT offers up many different trailheads for hikers of all skill levels. One such area is Bake Oven Knob in Germansville, PA. Bake Oven Knob in particular offers scenic vistas overlooking the valley below.
  • South Mountain Park in Emmaus, PA is maintained by the Wildlands Conservancy and has nine total miles of hiking. With the elevation comes some spectacular views, as well as the opportunity to observe many different species of birds and other wildlife. The Maples, Red Oaks, and Beeches provide a great source of color this time of year.
  • Saucon Rail TrailLooking for a flatter, gentler walk more suitable for strollers or older family members? The Saucon Rail Trail is what remains of the North Pennsylvania Railroad and has 7.5 miles of trails. In addition to fall foliage, the Saucon Trail provides views of some of the most elegant and vast estates in Upper Saucon Valley.
  • The Trexler Nature Preserve in Lehigh County features trails for all levels and abilities, the Border trail being the most difficult. Originally created to preserve the American Bison, the nature preserve now hosts all different types of wildlife. It helps that it is adjacent to the Lehigh Valley Zoo. The two-mile Teardrop Trail offers hilltop and meadow views at a slightly easier pace.
  • D&L Trail: But it isn’t just the mountains that form the Valley – it’s also the rivers that help shape it. As such, there are also many scenic spots near the Lehigh and Delaware rivers. The Lehigh Valley portion of the D & L (Delaware and Lehigh) trail runs from Jim Thorpe to Easton and is further subdivided into more manageable sections. Each offers a range of different views as well as access to local points of interest. The D & L provides an interactive way for newcomers to get to know the industrial history of the Lehigh Valley through its railways and canals.

All in all, cooler temperatures and a changing landscape make fall a great time to get outside in the Lehigh Valley. Getting to know the trails in your town and the people on them is an easy way to feel more connected to the area and the natural splendor it has to offer.