Fall is in full swing, and there’s no better way to soak it in than at one of the Miami Valley’s stunning parks.
Depending on the type of adventure the day calls for, each park offers something completely unique and surprising. We’ve asked the experts — the nature aficionados — and these are their go-to autum spots.
As Lauren Lemons, Five River MetroParks’ community outreach coordinator, put it, “leaf peeping” has to be a top priority when considering which spots to visit before the colorful leaves fall to the ground.
Pearl’s Fen is Dayton’s newest wetland — and it’s waiting to be explored
When planning a day trip or even a quick afternoon hike, a little planning can go a long way. The Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s Fall Color Map is a quick and easy tool that tells people when the colors will start to change and when and where they will be at their peak.
Here are the best, must-visit Dayton area outdoor spots during fall:
A walk around the Eastwood Lagoon is a picture-perfect picnic opportunity. Sprawling trees speckle the park and stone bridges carry visitors across the lagoon at picturesque spots.
Eastwood is also a great drop-in spot for kayaks to paddle the four miles down the Mad River to RiverScape MetroPark, both offering beautiful fall views. Overall, Eastwood is an outdoor recreation hub that is a perfect fall day getaway.
Main Entrance: 1385 Harshman Road, Dayton
Lake Entrance: 1401 Harshman Road, Dayton
Springfield Street Entrance: 4349 Springfield St., Dayton
🍂Possum Creek MetroPark
The 3.5-mile orange trail loops around Possum Creek MetroPark’s forests, prairies and ponds, allowing you to see fall views in a variety of habitats.
Fall is also an awesome time to check out the long-abandoned amusement park tucked into the woods of Possum Creek. The rusted and crumbled remains can still be found where a fellow nicknamed “Firecracker” built it as a tribute to the friends he fought alongside in World War I.
Forest conceals long-forgotten amusement park, a 1930s Dayton hot spot
Address: 4790 Frytown Road, Dayton
🍂Hills & Dales MetroPark
Just short of 1.5 miles, the Adirondack Trail is filled with warm fall colors that complement the Adirondack structures in the park.
Almost hidden inside the sprawl of Kettering neighborhoods and alongside the Community Golf Club, Hills & Dales catches visitors off-guard with its dense forest tops and winding trails. The park is especially perfect in the fall, as it contains a few hidden gems perfect during “spooky season.”
One of those gems, Lookout Tower — known also as Frankenstein’s Castle, Witch’s Tower and Patterson’s Castle — was completed in 1941. Built to provide views of Community Country Club, it took a year for boys with the National Youth Administration to construct the 30-foot-tall tower from salvaged stone.
Address: 2655 S Patterson Blvd., Kettering
The ghostly tales behind the Hills & Dales ‘Witch’s Tower’
🍂Carriage Hill MetroPark
The 1.8-mile yellow trail takes you around Cedar Lake, which boasts beautiful fall-colored tree lines.
More than a hiking destination, Carriage Hill is home to dozens of farm animals that are used to demonstrate traditional 19th-century farming practices, including draft horses, sheep and more. Fall is a gorgeous time to time travel back to Miami Valley’s historical roots.
Address: Visitor Center entrance: 7800 E. Shull Rd., Dayton
Germantown is a year-round favorite for local hikers, but especially as the weather slips into the lower digits. An entire trail network offers a variety of lengths for hikers to choose from, including some of the region’s longest treks.
The park’s brown loop is about .7 miles and is perfect for grown-ups and kids to hike, as the ground is pretty even and the walk is fairly short. There is a platform at trail marker 24 on the brown loop where people can climb up and get a great view of the tree lines across the prairie. As the leaves change colors, this will be a stunning location.
Address: 7101 Conservancy Road, Germantown
Lose yourself in nature on new hiking trails
🍂John Bryan and Clifton Gorge
This one will seem like a no-brainer to Daytonians, but sometimes the obvious hiking destinations are forgotten now and then. John Bryan and Clifton Gorge are in great shape right now thanks to some recent additions and upgrades.
This spring, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources completed renovations of the John Bryan Lower Bridge, allowing hikers to once again access the south side of the gorge. The bridge had been closed for many years due to its deteriorated condition. The next couple of months are an ideal time to re-discover both John Bryan and Clifton Gorge in all of their fall glory.
🌲Honorable mention: Spots to visit this fall
🍂Bill Yeck Park
Address: (Rooks Mill Entrance) 8798 Rooks Mill Ln.,
Address: 2575 Indian Ripple Rd., Beavercreek
The Narrows is a fall getaway along the Little Miami
Did we miss your favorite hiking spot? Drop us a line and let us know: [email protected].
🚴♀️If “leaf peeping” by bike
🍂Medlar Conservation Area (The Great-Little Trail)
Runs from Crain’s Run Park in the west, to Waterbury Ridge Lane in the east.
🍂Taylorsville MetroPark (The Great Miami River Trail)
Ride four to five miles in Taylorsville MetroPark, and continue if you like.
🍂Eastwood MetroPark (The Mad River Trail)
Start your ride at RiverScape MetroPark and end in Huffman MetroPark to experience the city and the changing leaves.
🍂Dull Woods Conservation Area (The Wolf Creek Trail)
Dull Woods Conservation Area is located in the northern section of the trail. Ride from Trotwood to the Village of Verona.
🍂MoMBA at Huffman MetroPark (Creekside Trail)
This trail is rated blue (intermediate). View the beautiful rock bottom creek and tackle two large bridges, five creek crossings and more. For those who don’t have mountain bikes, rentals are available select Tuesday and Saturdays this fall.