Fall foliage forecast: When’s the best time to see the leaves change

CLEVELAND– The first day of fall is just around the corner, but you’ll have to wait a few weeks to see the beautiful fall foliage here in Northeast Ohio.

The peak time for viewing in our state is mid-October. The same goes for parts of Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Further south, foliage peak times stretch into late October and early November.

(Graphic: A.J. Colby/FOX 8 News)

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources keeps a close eye on the changing colors. It offers an up-to-date report of leaf conditions at Ohio state parks. As of Tuesday afternoon, parks across the Buckeye state reported trees were green.

ODNRĀ  recommends experiencing the view from one of five historic watchtowers that allow public access. They are located at Blue Rock, Hocking, Mohican, Shawnee and Zaleski.

“While environmental conditions like stress from an abnormally dry and hot summer can cause trees to show their color and shed their leaves in late summer, true fall color is brought on by the shortening of the days,” ODNR explained.

“Any color or leaf drop before October is most like the tree shutting down its resources early as a form of protection. By late summer the tree has already produced the majority of the nutrients that it needs to survive over winter, and the early shut down protects the tree from any other stressing events.”

Common trees in Ohio, like oak, black cherry, dogwood and sumac turn red, while ash, beech, birch, hickory, cottonwood and sycamore turn yellow. Expect mixed colors from buckeye, red maple, sweetgun and sassafras.

The autumn equinox is Friday at 4:02 p.m.

Looking for some family-friendly fall fun? Check out our guide to the area’s pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides and apple picking.