October 2011 Issue
Capture the Colors
The curtain rises along the Lake Erie shoreline and gradually lifts to reveal fall’s hues north to south, peaking at the Ohio River later this month.
Ride the Rails
What more relaxing way to see the changing leaves than from the comfort of a train car on one of Ohio’s railways?
The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad draws visitors from across the Midwest, eagerly seeking fall colors each October.
“Lucky for us is that we travel through Cuyahoga Valley National Park,” explains Kelly Steele, director of marketing for the railroad.
“You’re surrounded by the fall foliage from the moment you step on the train until you get back off again.”
The train plunges deep into the park, immersing riders in the reds, yellows and oranges of a variety of trees including oak, maple and beech, and offering views of the Cuyahoga River winding through the woods. Steele recommends the areas in Brecksville and Peninsula for the best fall colors.
Passengers can board the historic railroad, dating to 1880, at stations between Independence and Akron. Riders then embark on an up to three-hour roundtrip scenic excursion.
Or make a day of it — the trip lasts longer if you choose to hop off the train to explore the areas surrounding the rails. Get off at the Peninsula Station and explore the canal-era village packed with quaint galleries, shops and restaurants, located near the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath trail.
Steele also recommends getting off at the Akron Northside Station and catching the bus for a loop that takes you to the Akron Art Museum, Akron Zoo or to Cascade Locks Park, where you can see eight canal locks within the span of a mile along the Towpath.
For the ultimate in relaxation, buy a ticket for the Ales on Rails Beer Tasting Excursion or the Grape Escape Wine Tasting Excursion to sample some brews or vino while taking in the sights. Call 800/468-4070 or visit cvsr.com
for the complete schedule.
Another fantastic trip for fall color is on board the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway’s Fall Foliage Trains. The trains set out from the Nelsonville Depot for a more than two-hour tour past Hocking Valley’s historic sites and forests, with a 30-minute stop at Robbins Crossing pioneer village. The 22-mile round-trip rides run Thursdays and Fridays October 1–29. Call 740/753-9531 or visit hvsry.org
Or ride the rails at the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad for its kid-friendly Pumpkin Patch Express rides, taking passengers through the Warren County countryside to the Schappacher Farm for pumpkin picking and a chance to see farm animals. The Pumpkin Patch Express runs October 1–30. Call 513/933-8022 or visit lebanonrr.com
What better way to see the leaves than soaring through the air at eye level with the branches? Ohio’s ziplines allow you to do just that as you zoom high above the ground through some of the state’s most beautiful natural areas.
The state’s newest and most unique zipline is at the Wilds in Cumberland. The Wild Zipline Safari, which opened in June, takes thrill seekers on an exciting flight over rolling hills and pastures where endangered and exotic animals roam.
Guests cruise along 10 ziplines `before ending with a rappel to the ground where a transport waits to take you back to the visitor center. Not for the faint of heart, the tour takes place more than 85 feet above the ground at some points. And one line is so long (750 feet across) that people at the other end are barely visible until you get part way across the lake it zips over.
To get a bird’s eye view of the 10,000- square-foot grounds and animals (including rhinos, zebras, giraffes and Sichuan Takin) from afar is breathtaking enough. But it’s even better in the fall, according to zipline co-owner Julieann Eckel.
“When the colors are changing, it looks more like a safari setting,” she says. “It goes from green to brown and starts looking like you’re on an actual safari the whole time you’re out there.”
And if you’re not a fan of heights, the Wilds has plenty of other ways to see foliage and animals, from its classic Safari Transport tours of the grounds to its Wildside tours that get you up-close-and-personal with the animals while accompanied by animal management staff. Call 740/638-5030 ext. 2947 or visit zipthewilds.com
Hocking Hills Canopy Tours in Rockbridge offers foliage seekers the chance to fly right through the treetops on its two-to-three-hour journeys through the stunning hues of the Hocking Hills forests. The tour includes 10 ziplines, five adventure skybridges and a rappel at the end, taking you past the Hocking River, rock cliffs, a cave and more of the changing leaves. Call 740/385-9477 or visit hockinghillscanopytours.com
See the sights of the Mohican area’s rivers and forests from Tree Frog Canopy Tours in Glenmont, just a few miles from Mohican State Park. The only zipline in northern Ohio, Treefrog transports guests into the fall foliage with its ziplines, sky bridges and rappels. Call 740/599-2662 or visit treefrogcanopytours.com
Or take flight on the largest zipline in the Midwest: Ozone Zipline Adventures in Oregonia. Ozone has guests zooming along through the trees and traversing the ravines of the Little Miami River Valley at heights up to 200 feet above the ground on its 10 ziplines and nine skybridges. Knowledgeable tour guides school riders on the trees, history of the area and more. Call 513/932-3756 or visit campkern.org/ozone
Perhaps the most leisurely way to see the transformation of the leaves is while canoeing down a tranquil river with the colors reflected in the water.
Cruise down the calm Hocking River from the Hocking Hills Canoe Livery in Logan. The gentle lapping of the water and sounds of wildlife provide a peaceful soundtrack to the tableau of vivid leaves gently tumbling from the sky.
The trips are self-guided, so you can take as long as desired to see the sights while on a five- or seven-mile trip. And leisure is certainly recommended.
“Every turn and view is going to be different,” says Aaron Fox, owner and manager of the livery. “Just take it all in.”
Fox also recommends taking the seven-mile trip and stopping to see the longest natural rock bridge in the state. Located just off the river, the arch spans 100 feet and was the namesake for the town of Rockbridge. Call 800/634-6820 or visit hockingriver.com
Paddle along the most secluded and remote area of the scenic Little Miami River from Rivers Edge Canoe Livery and Outfitters for a trip that’s as peaceful as they come. The livery, located in Waynesville, is adjacent to the Spring Valley Wildlife Area — guaranteeing some beautiful scenery. Choose from three-and-a half-, nine- or 13-mile trips. Call 937/862-4540 or visit riversedgeoutfitters.com
Farmland punctuates the woods when paddling from the Grand River Canoe Livery in Rock Creek. Not only boasting scenic views of the leaves, the trips also take you past wildlife (including bald eagles), under historic bridges and through a deep gorge in Lake County. Trips are tailored to the individual and can last from one hour to one week. Call 440/813-0413 or visit grandrivercanoe.com
Be sure to call ahead before heading on a watery adventure — schedules are dependent on the weather and water conditions.
Plan your leaf-peeping adventure by consulting the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Fall Color Homepage: dnr.state.oh.us/tabid/ 9584/default.aspx
. You’ll find a map with information from reporting stations, as well as video reports posted through Oct. 26.