Listen Here: Hurst Slow Lane Leaf Peeping


There are two basic ways to view fall foliage: At a distance, you can admire the way vivid shades of scarlet and gold ripple along a ridgeline; up close, you can make a study of a single tree – or even a single leaf – observing more-precise color patterns.


Around each bend and along each limb await new works of natural art, hand-painted by the Almighty Creator: A sugar maple sits by the roadside, so intensely crimson that it appears ready to erupt in flame; just ahead extends a golden corridor of oak and ash with sunlight filling the skylight overhead.


Leaf-peeping through the windows of a high-speed conveyance is the way most people enjoy fall and works fine for the big-picture viewing. But it’s tough to admire a single leaf – or even a solitary tree – at 60 miles per hour.


This year, consider slower conveyances for your leaf-viewing. Within our region there are multi-modal opportunities to view God’s annual art show.


In Armstrong County, for example, you can step out of your motor vehicle and back into time by climbing into a carriage for a horse-drawn fall foliage tour, provided by the Dragon Run Forge and Livery. These two- to three-hour carriage rides take place daily through October, and riders are welcome to bring both a camera and picnic basket. For information, call (724) 543-3367.


Seeing spectacular fall hillsides by boat may offer two views at once, since those same hillsides also can be reflected on calm lake water. Few lakes in our part of the United States can rival the scenic resources of Raystown Lake, which offers 110 miles of undeveloped, forested shoreline.


Lake Raystown Resort’s Proud Mary Showboat offers breakfast, afternoon and dinner cruises on weekends through October. (814) 658-3500. Or you can board the Princess at Seven Points Marina, which also offers weekend fall foliage cruises through October 13. (814) 658-3074.


Bicycles are an excellent slower-mode of watching the leaves turn, and rail-trails provide opportunities to do that free of pesky distractions such as motor vehicles speeding by within a few feet of the rider. Our region is blessed with an abundance of forested rail-trails, and you can find information about many of them by visiting  HYPERLINK “”


Of course the original – and, often, still the best – way to view fall’s foliage is on foot. Rail-trails are a great resource for this transportation mode, along with the many hiking trails located here. Visit  HYPERLINK “” and click on land activities.


On October 5, Laurel Hill State Park is offering an interesting variation on the traditional hoofing experience: “Hike to Happy Hour.” After walking eight to 10 miles along the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail atop Laurel Ridge, participants will end up either at Seven Springs or Hidden Valley resort – in time for happy hour. Call (814) 352-8649 to register.


Back in motor vehicles, there are some interesting variations to the traditional fall drive. Do it on September 28 or 29 in Indiana County, for example, and you also can participate in the Artists Open Studio Tour, where you can travel to 13 locations and talk with 15 fine-artists about their work.  HYPERLINK “”


And over the weekend of October 12-13, you can enjoy the foliage while taking Explore Altoona’s latest Mystery Tour, “Rails, Trails & Tunnels.” Pick up the free, self-guided tour packet at the Railroaders Memorial Museum on the days of the driving tour. For information: (800) 842-5866.


Remember, all of these activities will be framed by the splendor of our region’s fall, which – when weather and leaf conditions converge – combine brilliant blue, humidity-free skies with crisp yellows, oranges, crimsons and russets, and the final warmth of a southward sun.


Whether it’s the big picture or the details, you can enjoy fall at any speed here within the Alleghenies.



How to Enjoy Fall by Slowing Down


By Dave Hurst


© 2013 Hurst Media Works