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If you’re looking forward to packing the family into the minivan and heading out for a Sunday drive to view the fall foliage, you will have to wait a little longer.
Although you’ve probably noticed a few trees changing colors, most of the trees in the Lebanon Valley and surrounding areas are still green.
The colors of autumn happen when the trees stop producing chlorophyll. It’s the chlorophyll that makes the leaves green, and when that happens, they revert to their natural colors of reds, yellows and browns. Several factors determine when the change occurs: rainfall (or lack of), overall temperatures and especially the number of hours of daylight. According to state tourism officials, peak color generally happens in our area from mid to late October.
Every week of the fall, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources issues a weekly fall foliage report, the first of which can be seen at the top of this page (see the full report in PDF form here). Regionally, the DCNR relies on foresters at William Penn State Forest in Berks County for their reports. Although the map indicates that not much fall foliage is viewable in Pennsylvania right now, the DCNR heard on social media from a number of residents in counties towards the New York border where the change has already begun.
In Pennsylvania we are blessed with an abundance of trees. Even old William Penn noticed that when he named the piece of land he got from the King of England. When autumn arrives they burst into an awesome display that is unmatched anywhere. The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) says Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied Fall Foliage season that any other state.
How much time you want to spend leaf peeping depends on your level of enthusiasm for the subject. For some, just looking out the kitchen window is enough. Other may take a drive to a more wooded area. The Lebanon Valley enjoys mountain ranges to the North and South, with places like Swatara State Park and Memorial Lake to the North and Cornwall and Mt. Gretna to the South. You’ll also see lots of forest on a drive down Rt 322 to Brickerville, or headed up to Penn State for a game. True fanatics might even book a bus trip to New England or The Great Smoky Mountains.
Truth is, you don’t have to go to all that trouble, with all the beauty that’s all around us. The DCNR website has lots of information on fall foliage in PA, including maps that are updated as needed and suggested road trips around the Commonwealth. See here for more information.
Enjoy the view and try not to think about what season comes next.