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12 of the Best Places to See Fall Colors in Columbus, Ohio and Beyond

Fall in Ohio is so beautiful! Check out changing leaves and beautiful fall colors in Columbus and all around the state of Ohio during this short but amazing season!

Fall in Ohio is my favorite season! The changing leaves around Central Ohio are just so beautiful! This is a list of some of the best places to see fall colors near Columbus, Ohio!

Beginning with Columbus and Central Ohio locations and extending out into the rest of the state, these are some beautiful places to see changing leaves and autumn colors all around Ohio!

When do the Leaves Change in Ohio?

Before we start to explore some of the best places to see changing leaves in Columbus and beyond, let’s talk about peak fall foliage times in Ohio! Generally speaking, leaves begin to change in late September and peak during the month of October. Northern Ohio leaves begin to change first and Southern Ohio leaves follow by a few weeks.

Of course, the best times for peak color are always changing depending on the year and the weather that we have had! We’ve had some years where early November is just amazing!

The U.S. Forest Service says that, “a succession of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp but not freezing nights seems to bring about the most spectacular color displays.”

You can keep an eye on Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s Ohio Fall Color Progress Map to see where the leaves are changing in Ohio!

A boy walking on a boardwalk path covered with red leaves at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio.
Brandywine Falls Boardwalk at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Beautiful Spots to See Fall Colors in Columbus:

This section of the blog post will feature great places to see the best fall colors in Columbus, Franklin County and Central Ohio! Skip to the next section if you’re looking to take a road trip from Columbus to another destination in Ohio!

1. Inniswood Metro Gardens

  • Address: 940 S Hempstead Rd, Westerville, OH 43081
  • Website

Ever since stumbling upon the Boardwalk Trail at Inniswood Metro Gardens a couple of years ago and finding myself in the middle of a fairy tale, I have been low key obsessed with returning to this spot every year!

A boy walking on a path at Inniswood Metro Gardens in the fall.

The memory of that spot at peak foliage is still magical in my mind and if I return at just the right time, I am not disappointed!

Two boys walking on a boardwalk path at Inniswood Metro Gardens surrounded by fall leaves.

You can find this hiking trail to your right as you enter the main entrance at Inniswood. It is also called the Preserve Trail. Part of the trail is a boardwalk that winds through the woods. Unlike the rest of Inniswood, which is carefully curated, this trail is a simple path through the woods.

There are a lot of other really cool things to do and see at Inniswood Metro Gardens and it’s worth a visit any time of year! Kids will love the treehouse, Sister’s Garden and Windmill, just to name a few!

2. Sawmill Wetlands

  • Address: 2654 Sawmill Pl Blvd, Columbus, OH 43235
  • Website

Sawmill Wetlands is a hidden gem in Columbus that you really have to know about to find! Hidden behind the busy shopping area that is Sawmill Road, this protected wetlands area is gorgeous in the fall! It’s a great spot to see changing leaves and be immersed in a beautiful wooded area in the middle of the hustle and bustle!

A boy running on a boardwalk path at Sawmill Wetlands in Columbus, Ohio.

This area was saved from development and is now managed by the ODNR Division of Wildlife and the Friends of Sawmill Wetlands.

Yellow and orange leaves in a forest at Sawmill Wetlands in Columbus, Ohio.

There is a boardwalk trail and several benches where you can sit and enjoy the fall color and watch for wildlife. You can also find bird feeders throughout the trail for those who love to bird watch!

The entrance to Sawmill Wetlands and a decent sized parking lot is on Sawmill Place Blvd.

3. Franklin Park

  • Address: 1755 E. Broad St, Columbus, OH 43203
  • Website

Franklin Park is another one of my very favorite places in Columbus to visit in the fall to see changing leaves. In fact, the Franklin Park Cascades area is a beautiful place to visit year round. Just gorgeous!

Changing leaves at the Cascades in Franklin Park in Columbus, Ohio.

You can find the Cascades in the southwest corner of Franklin Park. They run along Franklin Park South and a small portion of Franklin Park West streets. This is the corner opposite of Franklin Park Conservatory.

An important thing to note is that Franklin Park Conservatory is inside of Franklin Park. There is an admission fee to visit Franklin Park Conservatory, but the larger Franklin Park is a public park that is free to visit!

Fall colors at Franklin Park in Columbus, Ohio.

There are multiple parking lots in the park but I often park on Franklin Park South to get closest to the Cascades.

4. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

  • Address: Cedar Ridge Area: 1775 Darby Creek Drive Galloway, OH 43119
  • Website

When we were relatively new to Columbus, we asked some friends for advice on some good places to see changing leaves in Columbus and they recommended Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. We spent a beautiful fall afternoon there and it is my earliest memory of visiting this great Metro Park.

Since then we have returned to Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park over and over again! It has one of the best Nature Centers and you can see bison roaming in the park! Make sure to read my blog post about Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park for all the details!

One of the best spots in the park for a great view of fall colors is the Observation Deck in the Cedar Ridge Area.

A view of fall foliage from the observation deck at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

To find the observation deck, you will take part of the Cobshell Trail which you can access in between the playground area and the picnic area. The trail is a .1 mile walk west towards Big Darby Creek.

Fall colors along a boardwalk path at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park near Columbus, Ohio.

5. McFerson Commons Park

  • Address: 218 West St, Columbus, OH 43215
  • Website

You don’t even need to go out into the woods to see beautiful fall colors in Columbus! In the Arena District downtown, McFerson Commons knows how to put on a show!

Bright fall colors at McFerson Commons Park in Columbus, Ohio.

This park is directly across from Nationwide Arena and it is just gorgeous in the fall! The red and yellow leaves just pop against a blue sky! Pair your visit to McFerson Commons with lunch at one of these restaurants in downtown Columbus!

Bright red trees in McFerson Commons Park in Columbus.

6. Thompson Park

  • Address: 3600 Tremont Rd, Upper Arlington, OH 43221
  • Website

Thompson Park is another park near Columbus that we just happened to visit in the fall for the playground, not realizing that it was going to be an amazing display of fall colors! I was blown away!

A bright yellow tree with a bench and leaves on the ground at Thompson Park in Upper Arlington, Ohio.

Thompson Park is in Upper Arlington and in addition to the playground, there is a walking path around the park which would allow you to see the beautiful changing leaves! This park is on my list of playgrounds in Upper Arlington! Make sure to read it to find out more local parks to explore!

A close up of yellow leaves on the ground and a bright orange tree in Thompson Park.

Beautiful Spots to See Fall Colors in Ohio:

These gorgeous fall destinations in Ohio are just a few hours or less from Columbus, Ohio and make for a great Ohio based road trip if you’re looking to see changing leaves!

7. Wahkeena Nature Preserve

  • Address: 2200 Pump Station Rd SE, Sugar Grove, OH 43155
  • Website

We were blown away by Wahkeena Nature Preserve when we visited during the fall! It was so beautiful!

There are 4 trails in the park that you can hike. There is also a Nature Center and a lot of wildlife to watch for including raptor housing for two raptors that were injured and can no longer live in the wild.

A floating boardwalk path at Wahkeena Nature Preserve in Fairfield County, Ohio.

The Boardwalk (pictured above) was one of my favorite trails! It’s only 0.1 miles so make sure not to miss it when you enter the park! On the Pond Loop (pictured below), you can see a beaver lodge! The park map told us that fall is the best time to see beaver activity!

A boy walking on a boardwalk on the Pond Loop at Wahkeena Nature Preserve.

Make sure to check the website linked above because Wahkeena Nature Preserve is not open every day! Then read my list of things to do in Lancaster, Ohio to plan your trip to the area!

8. Hocking Hills State Park

  • Address: Old Man’s Cave Area: 19852 OH-664, Logan, OH 43138
  • Website

Of course you can’t overlook Hocking Hills when you’re talking about beautiful displays of fall color! It’s definitely one of the best places in Ohio to see changing leaves! The scenery is breathtaking no matter what time of year you visit, but Hocking Hills is just stupid gorgeous in the fall. Unbelievable!

A view of the Upper Falls in Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.

I recommend the Old Man’s Cave Trail when you’re visiting in the fall. Both of these photos are from Old Man’s Cave. You won’t believe how gorgeous it is! While you’re there, make sure to check out my list of restaurants in Hocking Hills – including one of my favorite stops for coffee, The Oasis Coffee Shop & More!

Two boys running on a path at Hocking Hills State Park in the fall.

My list of fun things to do in the Hocking Hills region will help you round out your trip to this beautiful area!

9. Mohican State Park

  • Address: 3116 OH-3, Loudonville, OH 44842
  • Website

Honestly, I feel like I am going to say the same thing over and over about every one of these places, but Mohican State Park is another totally amazing place to see fall color in Ohio! My husband and I visited over our anniversary one year, which is in the third week of October, and we were just blown away!

A beautiful view of fall colors in the Clear Fork Gorge in Mohican State Park in Ohio.

The leaves are gorgeous in the park and a really great place to see them is Clear Fork Gorge. The gorge is 1000 feet wide and over 300 feet deep and is filled with white pine and eastern hemlock trees.

The Clear Fork Gorge is home to two overlooks and a picnic area. There is a paved path along the gorge, in-between the two overlooks. You absolutely must visit here in the fall! This is where you can see some of the best views of color change in Mohican State Park!

A view of Mohican Covered Bridge in the fall.

Another popular spot at Mohican State Park is the Mohican Covered Bridge, pictured above! The bridge crosses the Mohican River making for a picturesque sight amongst the changing leaves! There is a parking lot nearby where you can get out and enjoy the view!

I mean, the whole place is gorgeous in the fall! You can’t go wrong! Just taking a scenic drive through the park is magical during peak fall colors!

10. Mt. Jeez Overlook

  • Address: look for signs in Malabar Park. Entrance is on Pleasant Valley Rd. in Perrysville, Ohio.
  • Website

Another spot where you can overlook fall foliage from a high distance for an amazing view is at Mt. Jeez Overlook in Malabar Farm State Park! It’s not far from Mohican State Park, so make a plan to see these on the same trip, if possible!

A view of fall colors and farmland from the top of Mt. Jeez in Malabar Farm State Park.

There is a narrow, windy road up to the top of Mt. Jeez that is accessible by car. When you get to the top, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view when the leaves change color!

This is an impressive height from which to see fall colors in Ohio and I don’t feel like it’s super well known if you don’t live in the area. You have to keep an eye out for signage so you don’t miss the turn off of Pleasant Valley Rd. There are no hiking trails here (or restrooms) but there is a decent sized parking area.

A view of changing leaves and fall colors from the top of Mt. Jeez.

11. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

  • Address: Brandywine Falls: 8176 Brandywine Rd, Northfield, OH 44067
  • Website

Another one of the best places to see changing colors in Ohio is at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Ohio’s only National Park, CVNP surrounds the Cuyahoga River and is full of amazing opportunities to see changing leaves and breathtaking fall colors!

Brandywine Falls surrounded by fall colors in the park.

We love to visit Brandywine Falls, Ohio’s largest waterfall. There is a boardwalk trail with two overlooks where you can view the waterfall. The overlooks are not far from the parking lot, so it’s relatively easy to see this Ohio waterfall as long as you can do steps!

A man reading a sign on a deck at the Beaver Marsh area of Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio.

We also like to visit the Beaver Marsh area of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This is another boardwalk trail that crosses through a marsh area where there are beaver dams! It’s beautiful here, too. Park at the Ira Trailhead and head north on the trail for closest access to Beaver Marsh!

These photos are from early October, so it wasn’t quite peak yet, but it was still a great time to see the beginning of changing leaves in the park!

If you’re in the Cleveland area, you may also want to visit the Rocky River Reservation to see the Berea Falls Scenic Overlook! I haven’t personally been there in the fall, but I bet it’s amazing! Check out my list of fun things to do in Cleveland to round out your trip!

12. Conkles Holllow State Nature Preserve

  • Address: 24858 Big Pine Rd, Rockbridge, OH 43149
  • Website

Conkles Hollow is a beautiful place to see changing leaves in the fall! This State Nature Preserve is in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio but is not officially part of Hocking Hills State Park.

There are two options for hiking Conkles Hollow: The Gorge Trail and the Rim Trail.

The Rim Trail is a 2-mile hike along the edge of the gorge. This hike is not recommended for kids and pets are not allowed on either of the trails.

The Gorge Trail is a 3/4 mile trail that is wheelchair accessible. The path is paved almost to the end. The path then continues back to a waterfall and is not wheelchair accessible at this point.

We decided to play it safe and hike the Gorge Trail! The area is surrounded by sandstone cliffs which are very picturesque when surrounded by the amazing fall color!

Fall is a beautiful time of year to get out and explore the Buckeye State! Get more ideas on my list of 30+ Ohio Road Trips or my list of easy day trips from Columbus, Ohio for families! Tell me where you find the best fall foliage in Ohio in the comments!

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Best Places to See Fall Colors in Ohio.

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Monday 30th of October 2023

[…] We love to visit the Hocking Hills region of Ohio! First of all, if you haven’t been to Hocking Hills, you must go! It is an incredibly gorgeous part of Ohio that will surprise you at every turn! Hocking Hills State Park is home to some of Ohio’s best waterfalls and is of the best places to see changing leaves in Ohio in the fall! […]