It’s Autumn (in case you didn’t notice)

Campers enjoying the fall leaves; photo: Five Rivers MetroParks

By Lauren Lemons

Many associate  stunning tree lines featuring warm fall colors with locations across New England, but Ohio has its fair share of fabulous fall foliage, much of which can be seen in your favorite park. According to Weather.com, Ohioans can expect to see fall colors peak in mid-October, which also is the perfect time to hit the trails thanks to cooler weather, lower humidity, and fewer pesky insects.

“Five Rivers MetroParks has 18 park destinations and multiple conservation areas in Montgomery County, so there are plenty of different locations for people to explore fall foliage,” said Angie Sheldon, MetroParks outdoor recreation coordinator. “Just about every park has something special for those who love the outdoors in autumn.”

Reason for the season

What is actually happening when the leaves turn? According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, fall color is brought on by the shortening of days. Decreased sunlight sparks a chemical change in the leaves that result in the breakdown of green chlorophyll by carotenoids, which are shades of yellow, brown, and orange. However, red and purple leaves are the results of a different chemical called, anthocyanin. Curious as to which trees sport certain colors? Visit OhiooDNR.gov to learn more and check out Ohio’s fall color map.

If you would rather trade all of the cool biology behind the changing fall colors for longer days and warm weather year-round, know there is still something to celebrate about autumn in Dayton. On their own, parks provide serious perks to local economies, including tourism and property values, but the cycle of the seasons can give cities an economic boost as well. Mashable reports that fall foliage is worth billions to New England’s economy, while Travel Pulse stated that New Hampshire expected 8.2 million fall foliage visitors in 2014.

“Dayton is the outdoor adventure capital of the Midwest, so we see our fair share of tourists throughout the year, and with our sweeping views of fall color along our waterways, lakes, and trails, it certainly makes the area an attractive place to visit,” Sheldon said. “If you are in the greater Dayton area and are lamenting the end of summer, don’t write off getting outdoors during the fall season. I think a fall hike through a beautiful MetroPark will change some minds.”

Calling all leaf peepers

Check out the following MetroParks for beautiful trails and points of interest that feature picturesque fall foliage:

Germantown & Twin Creek MetroParks: These MetroParks are home to the 22-mile Twin Valley Backpacking Trail, and miles of other trails, crossing a variety of terrain and habitats, and offering scenic views to take in the pop of fall’s color.

Visit the High View Shelter at Twin Creek MetroPark or the Scenic Overlook in Germantown MetroPark to peep some autumn leaves. If you have mobility challenges, try the picnic area in Germantown MetroPark for beautiful views.

Taylorsville MetroPark: Take the orange trail to experience a 3.2-mile loop of rich fall color.

Englewood MetroPark (East Park): Take the green trail to Patty, Oak, and Martindale falls to see beautiful waterfalls surrounded by stunning fall foliage.

Sugarcreek MetroPark: Follow the orange or green trail to the site of the “Three Sisters,” three impressive ancient white oak trees, and then continue along the trail to experience the warm colors surrounding the Osage orange tunnel. This tunnel was created by the large, arching branches of old Osage orange trees and is one of many points of interest in Sugarcreek MetroPark.

Hills & Dales MetroPark: The Adirondack-style shelter that overlooks Dogwood Pond is a beautiful place to check out fall foliage. Hike the 1.4-mile Adirondack Trail, including a loop around beautiful Dogwood Pond and a boardwalk through a forested wetland.

Carriage Hill MetroPark: Experience what fall was like in the 1880s at the historical farm, then hit the trails to see the trees and prairies pop with warm fall colors.

Possum Creek MetroPark: Follow the purple trail through the Argonne Forest and discover beautiful woodlands—as well as the remnants of a ‘30s and ‘40s-era amusement park known as the Argonne Forest Park.

“I love the feeling of fall and the openness walking under the large old canopy trees found along our rivers and creeks,” said Doug Horvath, MetroParks education coordinator. “Strolling down paths scattered with beautiful fallen leaves is a joy in these woodlands—especially if there is a far off view through the trunks of the trees.”

Before you explore

Because you are planning to hike in cooler weather there are special considerations to make when planning your hike. Shoes that provide ankle support, snacks, water, and sunscreen are a must. Additionally, dress in layers and pack a map and a flashlight or headlamp, as you don’t want to get caught on the trails after dark.

To plan your fall hike or attend a fall program in your favorite MetroPark visit www.MetroParks.org.

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Lauren Lemons
Reach DCP freelance writer Lauren Lemons at LaurenLemons@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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