Are you looking for the best times and places to see beautiful fall colors in Ohio? You’ll want to use our guide — complete with 2023 peak predictions, suggestions for where to get the best fall foliage views, and an Ohio fall colors map.
The highlight of fall for most people, no matter where they live, is seeing the leaves change from green to brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows. And, with 75 state parks and other natural areas, Ohio is one of the premier destinations for leaf peeping.
As seasoned leaf-peepers know, though, it can be difficult to predict when the fall colors will reach their peak. A lot of factors influence when the colors emerge and how vibrant they are. So, here’s everything you need to know about Ohio fall foliage in 2023 and where to see it!
An Overview of Leaf Peeping in Ohio
When it comes to leaves changing color, the weather is the key component that affects when the change happens and how colorful the leaves get. The ideal conditions are dry, sunny days followed by cool nights. However, the days can’t be too dry because the leaves will fall off the trees before they turn color.
Predicted Ohio Fall Weather
For mid-September through October and November in Ohio, precipitation could be more than normal while temperatures are predicted to be about 40% to 50% higher than average. On top of that, Eastern and Southern Ohio experienced drought conditions as of early September.
Because of that, there’s a chance that the colors will come slightly later and be less vibrant than usual. However, the Ohio fall colors map prediction is better than for 2022 — when many areas stayed drier for longer, so they didn’t have optimal leaf-peeping opportunities.
For 2023, the color-changing process will start in late September in some parts of the state!
Why Leaves Change Color
It might help you understand fall foliage to know why and how it happens. As the temperature drops and the number of daytime hours shortens, trees stop the food-making process in preparation for hibernation.
As a result, the chlorophyll that makes the leaves green begins to deplete, making the orange and yellow pigments in the leaves stand out more. So, that’s actually what you’re seeing during the fall — the true colors of the leaves.
But, why are some leaves red or purplish? Crimson colors are the result of anthocyanin pigments mixing in the leaves. This is common in dogwood and sumac trees.
Peak Fall Foliage in Northwest Ohio & Toledo
The Toledo and Northwest Ohio areas are some of the first where the leaves start to change color. You’ll begin to see partial color coverage the first week of October 2023. But, the peak of the fall colors isn’t expected until the third week of October.
Maumee Bay State Park
Maumee Bay State Park is unique because of its location and the convergence of the land with Lake Erie. Among the lush marshes, scenic meadows, and wet woods are cabins, a resort lodge, and a golf course. More than 300 bird species call the park home, and there are more than 12 miles of trails for hiking and biking.
Van Buren State Park
With a 45-acre lake as a focal point, Van Buren State Park is a 296-acre retreat for hiking, fishing, horseback riding, picnicking, camping, and more. You even have the opportunity to play disc golf amid the fall leaves.
Maumee State Forest
Offering scenic views of the countryside, Maumee State Forest is 3,332 acres of recreational fun. There are dozens of miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding, and all-purpose vehicles. It has outstanding opportunities for taking photos and watching wildlife too.
Cleveland & Northeast Ohio’s Fall Colors
Like in Northwest Ohio, the leaves start turning color in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio before other regions of the state, based on the Ohio fall colors map. Although, the Greater Cleveland area may start to see the colors emerge even earlier than around Toledo — mid to late September, actually.
Peak fall colors could arrive in Lake County by the first week of October. By the second week of October, Cuyahoga Valley National Park will be bright and vibrant. The rest of Northeast Ohio will experience the colors in all their splendor during the third week of October.
Along with Cuyahoga National Park, there are several fantastic places to see fall colors in Northeast Ohio. We’ve gathered some of our favorites below.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
One of the first and best places to see fall foliage in Northeast Ohio is Cuyahoga Valley National Park, just south of Cleveland. You can walk, cycle, or run on the many miles of trails. Or, visit one of the beautiful waterfalls — Blue Hen Falls and Brandywine Falls are popular all year.
If you prefer to ride through the park, hop on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Trains travel between Akron Northside Station and Independence Rockside Station.
Rocky River Reservation
In the Greater Cleveland area, the Rocky River Reservation stretches across multiple cities and is characterized by massive shale cliffs that rise above the cottonwood, sycamore, and willow trees that fill the forests. The reservation also features meadows and wetlands that are home to tons of wildlife.
One of the most popular places to visit within the reservation during fall foliage season is Berea Falls. With fall colors as a backdrop, the double-tiered waterfall is absolutely breathtaking.
Ashtabula County Covered Bridges
In the northeasternmost corner of Northeast Ohio, Ashtabula County is home to 19 covered bridges. The industrial architectural beauty of the bridges against the natural peak fall foliage Ohio has isn’t something that you can see just anywhere in the United States.
While you’re in Ashtabula County, you may as well stop by Brant’s Apple Orchard. Through November, it’s a premier destination for fall festivities — hay rides, cider doughnuts and slushies, 27 apple varieties, and more.
Mill Creek Park
In Youngstown Ohio, Mill Creek Park has become known as one of the best leaf-peeping spots in the Buckeye State. It’s home to some unique historic structures — Lanterman’s Mill, the Old Log Cabin, the Mill Creek Furnace, and the Suspension Bridge — all of which look picturesque with the colorful leaves surrounding them.
Scattered across multiple counties on the southwest side of Northeast Ohio, Amish Country is a great place to go for fall color viewing. The Village of Millersburg is a favorite rural community in the area where you can really appreciate the charming, natural beauty of Ohio.
Leaf Peeping in Central Ohio & Columbus
In Columbus and Central Ohio, you can expect to see some patches and partial color in the trees during the second and third weeks of October. By the fourth and final full week of the month, the color change will be at its peak. Then, the colors will start to dull by Halloween.
While you have the chance, you can visit a variety of Dublin Ohio parks to enjoy the colorful canopy before it’s gone. And, here are some other parks worth visiting in Columbus Ohio.
Containing stream-cut ravines of exposed ripple-marked sandstone, Blendon Woods features forests of beech, hickory, maple, and oak trees that are stunning to look at during the fall. The 653-acre park is ideal for wildlife viewing and has two observation shelters for checking out the flora and fauna.
Known for its 13-acre rose garden, Whetstone Park is 148 acres of community property with playgrounds, scenic trails, natural areas, recreational sports facilities, and more. A 5.1-acre native Ohio prairie features a woodland buffer and vernal pools. The walk along the creek is perfect during the fall.
Offering a remote view of the Scioto River, Duranceau Park is located near Griggs Dam and across from Griggs Reservoir Park. Along with fall colors to view, the park has playground equipment and picnic areas. If you’re traveling with kids, it’s a wonderful place to relax and take in the scenery while the children play.
Cincinnati & Southwest Ohio’s Colorful Canopy
According to the Ohio fall colors map, Cincinnati and Southwest Ohio will start seeing partial fall color coverage during the third week of October. Although, there will be some patches of color a little sooner in the northernmost parts of the region.
Generally, the peak of fall foliage in Southwest Ohio will start around Halloween. The colors are expected to last through the first few days of November before going dull during the first full week of the month.
You can find some spectacular outdoor activities in Dayton Ohio with fall color viewing. In addition to those, here are some awesome places to see fall colors in Southwest Ohio.
Hueston Woods State Park
Along with a colorful canopy, Hueston Woods State Park in College Corner features a bedrock of limestone and shale with fossils of ancient marine life everywhere — remnants of the ancient sea that was once Ohio.
The park has more than 12 miles of hiking trails, 18 miles of horseback riding trails, and over 20 miles of mountain biking trails. Plus, the Hueston Woods State Nature Preserve next door has 4 miles of walking trails.
John Bryan State Park
Although beautiful all year, John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs becomes vibrant during the fall. It has an exceptional, river-cut limestone gorge — a National Natural Landmark with splendid views.
There are 10 hiking trails here, while the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve next door has even more. On top of that, there are about 10 miles of interconnecting mountain biking trails and a nine-hole disc golf course.
East Fork State Park
Just east of Cincinnati, East Fork State Park in Bethel encompasses 4,870 acres and is one of the biggest state parks in Ohio. Alongside the rolling hills, large Harsha Lake, and winding rivers, the park has miles upon miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails. You can even practice archery at either a static range or a 3D range.
Changing Colors in Southeast Ohio & the Appalachian Plateau
Tracking the fall color change in Southeast Ohio and the Appalachian Plateau is a little trickier than the rest of the state — mainly because of the changes in elevation. Because of that, part of the region starts to get colors sooner than the rest.
The easternmost corner of the region will start to see partial fall colors around the second week of October. The peak color here will develop during the fourth and final full week of the month.
For the rest of Southeast Ohio, partial fall foliage can be seen from the third week in October. But, the color peak won’t happen until the week of Halloween, after which the colors will dull.
Since Southeast Ohio is less commercially developed than the rest of Ohio, there are tons of places to see the brilliant colors of fall. For instance, you could explore the many outdoor activities in Marietta. Below are some of our other favorite fall destinations in the region.
Hocking Hills State Park
Known for its rigorous hiking trails and cascading waterfalls, Hocking Hills State Park is still within the Appalachian Plateau — despite only being about one hour southeast of Columbus. This nationally and internationally acclaimed state park features towering cliffs and deep gorges filled with hemlock trees.
If you don’t want to hike your way through the park, riding the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway in an open-air car is another great way to see the fall colors.
Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve
Within Hocking County, Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve has Black Hand sandstone cliffs that stand almost 200 feet above the valley. There’s also a gorge that may be the deepest in the state. The magnificent overlooks along Conkles Hollow Rim Trail offer breathtaking views of the fall foliage.
Wayne National Forest
Covering more than 250,000 acres, the Wayne National Forest is divided into three units because it’s so large. Horseback riding and off-highway vehicle riding trails are available in the Athens and Ironton ranger districts.
Also in Athens, there’s a Wayne National Forest Welcome Center with a reception area and interpretive panels about Southeast Ohio’s history and the national forest. Additional informational signs are posted around the center and pollinator garden.
By appointment, you can climb a restored lookout tower at the visitor center. At the top, you get unparalleled views of the fall colors.
FAQs About Fall Foliage in Ohio
When can you expect fall colors in Ohio?
In general, the Ohio fall colors map indicates that you can see peak fall foliage the third week of October in the northern regions, the fourth week of October in Central Ohio, and the week of Halloween in the southern regions. However, some areas may get colorful sooner or later depending on the weather.
How long do fall colors last in Ohio?
Across all of the Buckeye State, peak fall colors only last for about three or four weeks in October and early November. The colors only last about a week in each region.
Where are the best fall colors in Ohio right now?
Since peak fall colors depend on the weather, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact area where you can do the best leaf peeping in Ohio. However, we hope that the interactive map below will help you find fall colors this year.
Interactive 2023 Ohio Fall Colors Map
This Ohio fall colors map is a fall foliage prediction map of when and where the colors will peak this year.
You can drag the slider on the bottom of the fall foliage map [provided by SmokyMountains.com] to the left and right to change the time. Doing so will show you that most of Ohio will have peak fall colors near the end of October.