It’s becoming that “leaf peeping” time of the year again. Are you a leaf peeper? If not, your chance to become one is approaching very quickly. A leaf peeper is simply a person who travels to view and photograph the fall foliage in areas where leaves change colors in autumn. Leaf peeping is officially defined as a breed of tourism exclusively about finding fall foliage, admiring it and photographing it.
Champaign County is a great area for leaf peepers to take short road trips to view, admire and photograph fantastic local fall foliage.
The leaves are starting to change now with fall foliage in Ohio, well on its journey to peaking in the coming weeks. Ohio typically peaks in the second or third week of October, but due to the warmer than normal temperatures recently, leaves are starting their autumn color transformation a tad bit slower this year.
Of course with shorter days and cooler nights we know that autumn is underway, and what a great time of the year it is, offering many fun activities such as Oktoberfest, hayrides, football games, fall hiking, fall festivals, picking pumpkins, Halloween, the smell of fallen leaves and of course the fall foliage season.
In autumn the bright reds of the black gum trees usually begin to appear first along with the bright reds of various maple trees. Next, the russet shades of oak trees follow with the bright yellow of the ginkgo trees bursting a bit later. It’s like nature is putting on a month long fireworks show of colors.
So, hop on what this reporter describes as the “Champaign County Leaf Peeping Tour Trail” and fully take in your local fall foliage color show this fall.
Davey Woods State Nature Preserve
Considered by many as Champaign County’s “Little Smokies,” this preserve is located on Lonesome Road just outside of St. Paris and just 7 miles West of Urbana and is a fantastic location to view the Fall foliage colors. This old growth forest has many large tulip trees, oak, ash, and sugar maple and is truly one of the best wood lots still remaining in this part of Ohio. Two nice trails with some boardwalks and wooden foot bridges will traverse you through the hilly woods to view the Autumn show of colors. There is also a small parking area.
Kiser Lake State Park & Wetlands
This State Park is located at 4889 N. State Route 235 in Conover. The park encompasses 531 acres with vast Fall foliage viewing opportunities by either car, foot, bicycle or watercraft. Enjoy the Fall colors by hiking any or all of the 7 different hiking trails within the park and the wetlands, including one boardwalk trail.
Siegenthaler–Kaestner Esker State Nature Preserve
Check out some great Fall foliage scenery at this “little known” 37 acre wooded State Nature Preserve located about 10 miles east of Rosewood. To view wonderful fall foliage scenes by foot you can access the trailhead from Rosewood by following State Route 29 East 8 miles to Calland Road, proceed North on Calland Road 2.5 miles, then East on Couchman Road 0.5 miles to the Preserve entrance. The path has interesting Geology, bird watching and good upper and lower trails. The trails are relatively flat with a few hills (eskers) which actually resemble Indian mounds.
Pointe North Park
Pointe North Park is located at 2222 U.S. Route 68 North (just north of Grimes Airfield). This 224-acre park offers public fishing (catch and release only), wildlife observation, picnic opportunities and unique lake side Fall foliage views.
Cedar Bog Preserve
Cedar Bog is an Ohio Historical Society site located at 980 Woodburn Road, Urbana. The Preserve encompasses 427 acres with a 1.5 boardwalk hiking trail and a short interactive “Tallgrass Prairie” trail.
In addition to great views of fall foliage, also see over 45 endangered plant species and many endangered animals including spotted turtles. A fee is charged to access the preserve.
Simon Kenton Bike Trail
Why not pedal your way to Fall foliage bliss by taking the Simon Kenton Bike Trail? Travel basically from one end of Champaign Country to the other on this paved trail while encountering many picturesque fall foliage views.
Melvin Miller Park
No need to travel too far from home to see the Fall colors. Melvin Miller Park has many surrounding trees and woods and provides plenty of Fall foliage viewing opportunities.
For the adventurer, the Mad River runs through Champaign Country presenting many undiscovered Fall foliage views for the experienced canoer or kayaker.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.