One of the best parts of living in the Midwest is the intense colors of the changing leaves. As fall approaches, we’re getting close to the ideal time to plan your fall foliage tours in Ohio. But where are the best places to hit the road and experience the most leaf peeping you can? DIY Pole Barns found some of the most popular routes for serious autumn travelers to help you plan your fall foliage tour. So pull your car or motorcycle out of the garage and read our favorite locations to take in the colors of the season.

Scenic Routes for Ohio Fall Foliage Tours

The best way to enjoy the fall foliage is on your itinerary. Depending on where you are in Ohio, there are plenty of different routes available to plan your own tours. Or, if you’re a dedicated leaf peeper, plan your whole month! The colors change later in the month in southern Ohio, so there’s plenty of time to head that way. Take a look at some of DIY Pole Barn’s favorite scenic routes for taking in the autumn colors, all recommended by the Ohio DNR:

Northeast Ohio Route

The lucky travelers in the northeast can enjoy one of our favorite routes, which goes straight through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Starting in Hinckley, which is south of Cleveland, you can take State Route 303 east to Shalersville. This 31-mile trip takes you right through Ohio’s only national park. While the foliage along the road tapers off a bit past the park, the first part of the trip offers you plenty of trees on either side to see along the way. If you aren’t in a hurry, you should take a moment to stop and enjoy Cuyahoga Valley National Park too – there’s plenty to see!

Southeast Ohio Route

If you live near the Columbus area and want to enjoy a long, scenic trip, this route is stunning! Starting in Marietta, Ohio, you travel to Woodsfield via the Ohio River Scenic Byway. In addition to taking you along the Ohio River, this route takes you right through the thicker forests of the southeastern Ohio border. With about an hour’s worth of travel across 50 miles, you’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the colors.

Northwest Ohio Route

Ohio is packed from corner to corner with trees, and the northwest is no exception. There are hundreds of backroads and countryside views to witness the changing of the leaves. But our favorite route takes you from the town of Bowling Green to the edge of Lake Erie at Catawba Island. You’ll pass through several small towns and eventually wind up just south of Put-In-Bay.

Of course, if you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can take a detour north to pass Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge or head to Maumee Bay State Park. Both locations offer you a chance to enjoy nature and its captivating colors.

South Ohio Route

While it’s a bit of a hike from southwestern Ohio, one of the most incredible foliage tours you can plan for yourself in Ohio is in the Athens area. This loop takes you around Vinton Furnace State Forest and Zaleski State Forest. For most of these 70 miles, there will be practically nothing but trees in every direction. With so many state forests, make sure to take the time to stop in and see the trees close up!

Ohio’s Best Places to See Fall Foliage

Fall foliage tours don’t need to take place exclusively on the road! If you’re interested in stopping to see the brilliant red and orange colors, Ohio has dozens of breathtaking parks and forests. Here are a few of our favorites:

Amish Country

Pumpkin farm near barns and homes in Ohio Amish Country.

Ohio’s Amish Country is a favorite for leaf peepers in the region. In fact, National Geographic considers Holmes County, one part of Ohio’s Amish Country, to be one of the top 10 places in the world for enjoying the fall leaves! It’s estimated that up to four million visit the area each year – with many who visit during the fall. The gorgeous rural landscape is crawling with oak, maple, and Ohio’s beloved buckeye trees. From the moment you arrive, to the moment you leaf (pun intended), you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best fall foliage in the country.

While you’re there, don’t forget to keep an eye out for the variety of old American barns. With such a farm-centric community, you’re bound to see plenty!

Hocking Valley Scenic Railway

Experience the fall leaves in a unique way with Hocking Valley’s Scenic Railway. This historic railway is so popular for witnessing the fall colors, they operate extra trains to handle the influx of passengers! These trains give you a round trip from the Nelsonville Depot to East Logan. The full ride is about two-hours. If you’re typically the family driver, this is one of the few tours of the foliage where you can sit back to enjoy the sights too!

If you’re in the Columbus area during October and have some extra time, don’t forget to check out the All-American Quarter Horse Congress! It’s the largest single-breed horse show in the world!

Ohio’s Fire & Lookout Towers

If you’re not afraid of heights, the fire and lookout towers located in a few of Ohio’s state parks are an unforgettable way to take in the foliage. The unique sky-high perspective is breathtaking – and it’s not one that many get to experience. While Ohio once had up to 45 of these towers, only a few remain on state property, and not all are accessible. If you plan to visit the remaining towers as part of your tour, remember to call ahead to make sure they’re open to the public.

Tracking the Changing Colors

The shifting autumnal colors come and go at a different pace depending on which part of the state you’re in. The further south you are, the later they’ll change. If you want to get the most out of your fall foliage tour, you can drive down northern routes in early October. Then, take a trip through Central Ohio in the middle of the month – finishing with Southern Ohio in the last week of October.

One great way to keep an eye on the progress of the season is with Ohio’s official Fall Color Report. In addition to pinpointing great spots to visit, the report gives you an idea of how the trees look. The report is updated weekly, with a color legend ranging from green to fading to give you an idea of the best places to visit! By the time they’re all done, it’ll be winter and we’ll all be thinking of ways to stay warm.

Plan a Pole Barn Before the Winter Season Starts – Get an Instant Quote Online!

The autumn colors are gorgeous, but winter is far around the corner. If you’ve been thinking of a pole barn garage or hobby shop, lock in a quote today with DIY Pole Barns using our Instant Quote tool! Have questions? Call our knowledgeable staff at (937) 547-9100.


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