Best Fall Hikes in Pennsylvania (Part 1)

There are so many incredible hikes in Pennsylvania. What you’ll find below are some of my favorites across the state. Most hikes are 1-3 miles and each tends to have a feature like a stream, waterfall, or great view along the hike. Some are loops while others are an out and back. Check out the trails and photos below to plan your next fall hike!

#1 – Valley View Trail at Middlecreek Wildlife Preserve

This trail is about 1.7 miles if you start out near the Spicebush Trail parking lot. There are a few parking spots on the one side of the road opposite the trailhead. If you want a shorter hike, you can park off Laurel Rd in a larger parking lot. The trail is a switchback up the hill and there’s a spot at the top with benches that also connects to a few other trails if you’d like a longer hike. This one is a loop trail so you can see different views on the way up and way down.

Here’s a link to the park hiking map.

#2 – Lookout Trail at Hawk Mountain

This is the most common trail to hike at Hawk Mountain. It’s about 2 miles and is an out and back trail. It can be steep in some spots as you’re hiking up rocks, but the views especially during the fall from the overlook are incredible. This is not a dog friendly trail as Hawk Mountain is a conservation for raptors.

Here’s a link to the trail map at Hawk Mountain and here’s a link to the post I shared on Hawk Mountain from a few months back.

#3 – Red Trail at Bushkill Falls

The red trail is the most difficult at Bushkill Falls because of the amount of stairs you climb along the way. It goes by 8 waterfalls and can take individuals around 2 hours to hike. If you want a slightly easier trail, the Yellow Trail is only about an hour hike and cuts out some of the stairs.

Bushkill Falls does charge admission as it’s privately owned and isn’t a state or local park. I would recommend purchasing your ticket online prior to going.

Here’s a link to the map of the trails at Bushkill.

#4 – Conservation Trail at Middle Creek

The Conservation Trail hike at Middle Creek is one of the most popular. It begins at the corner of the visitor center parking lot. It winds through the woods and then through some meadows. You can connect this hike to the Spicebush Trail or the Valley view trail (referenced above). It’s great for dogs and kiddos too!

Here’s a link to the park hiking map.

#5 – Overlook Trail at the PA Grand Canyon

The Overlook Trail is in Leonard Harrison State Park which sits on one side of the PA Grand Canyon. The trail is very short, at about .6 miles but has a great view of Otter View which you can see in the photo below. There are quite a few other trails at the state park, but this one is one of the easiest and has great views and is very accessible as it’s right off of the parking lot.

To learn more about what to do in the area, I have a post from the PA Grand Canyon you can check out here.

#6 – Mason Dixon Trail near Lock 12 in Airville, PA

The Mason Dixon Trail is just under 200 miles long and connects the Brandywine Trail with the Appalacian Trail. Don’t worry, I’m not recommending you hike the entire thing, though you could! The part of the trail I’ve hiked and have enjoyed best is on the York County side of the Susquehanna River. There was a canal on that side of the river in the past, which still has a few old locks that you can see.

This link will show you a round trip hike that’s about a 2.3 mile loop. It begins down by Lock 12 and goes up by Mill Creek Falls. There’s other trails in the area you could take to shorten or extend your hike depending on your interests.

#7 – Mount Nittany to the Mike Lynch Overlook in State College, PA

This is one of the most popular hikes that’s not far from the Penn State campus. It’s about 1.4 miles round trip and completely uphill. The elevation gain is about 600 or so feet to the top. It is dog friendly and we saw quite a few pups on our trip to the top. The trail path is wide, so there’s opportunities to stop and catch your breath as you navigate up the hill.

Here’s a link to a post I shared a few months ago with an overview of this hike to the Mike Lynch Overlook. Once at the top of Mount Nittany, you can extend your hike by connecting to some of the other trails at the top to check out the other overlooks.

That’s all for part one of the best fall hikes in Pennsylvania! Here’s a link to Part 2.

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