Here’s where you can find explosive displays of fall color

Metroparks Art October
There are so many places within Lake Metroparks boasting the best of fall foliage. To visit them all, you’ve got to start exploring right now. (Photography: Kevin Vail)

By Mimi Vanderhaven

I hope I can be the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.”—Dodinsky

Grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte and catch the fleeting fall colors, an explosive kaleidoscope of ruby reds, sunshiny oranges and lemon yellows along the 60 miles of trails meandering through the 35 parks of Lake Metroparks.

To get the insider’s scoop on the top places to capture the autumn colors, we sought out Lake Metroparks Interpretive Naturalist Vicki Solomon.

Here is her short list:

  1. Chapin Forest Reservation in Kirtland: “From the scenic overlook along the Lucky Stone Loop Trail within this majestic old-growth forest, you can see for 30 miles, all the way north to Lake Erie.”
  2. Hidden Lake Park in Leroy Township: “This is a spectacular spot to enjoy the colors reflected on the calm waters of Hidden Lake. Plus, it has a spectacular hiking trail around the lake.”
  3. Girdled Road Reservation in Concord: “From the south entrance, 600 heavily wooded acres are skirted by a prairie meadow along Concord-Hamden Road. Big blue stem prairie grass provides a lush foreground to the tree line in the distance.”
  4. Hell Hollow Wilderness Area in Thompson: “The top of the stairs over the gorges offers an impressive view of the 360-million-year-old Chagrin Shale cliff above a deep river valley.”
  5. Veterans Memorial Park in Mentor: “Overlooking the largest inland pond in Lake County and sprawling wetlands, you’ll see striking sunsets here.”

Vicki is full of fun facts about nature. Did you know that leaves don’t actually change their color, but instead reveal the color that was always there due to a drop in chlorophyll?

Also, she explains that people often think colder temperatures are the reason leaves change color. Wrong. What spurs color change is the shorter length of days and longer nights.

Enjoy the breathtaking vistas while you can, because as soon as the leaves make their descent, it won’t be long before the only thing dropping will be white.

With the mission of conserving and preserving the natural resources of Lake County, Lake Metroparks provides more than 3.3 million visitors each year with educational and recreational programs and activities. For more information visit