|Pumpkins...autumn's fruits (top). Fishing at Harrison Lake (middle) and Kiser Lake (bottom). Click on photos for larger versions.
For many people, including me, the sweet smell of autumn air recalls fond memories of family and the outdoors. Rich in color and texture, fall is a time that naturally lends itself to enjoying such seasonal activities as apple picking, hiking and campfire camaraderie.
As Ohio’s trees and fields begin revealing their glorious shades of fall and the earth’s temperature begins to cool at least on this side of the world here are a few of my favorite fall outings that you too might enjoy this season.
Take a leisurely drive through northeastern Ohio’s Amish country, where fall paints the rolling hills in a patchwork of vibrant color. Along the way, stop and visit one the many country stores featuring beautiful handmade Amish quilts and furniture, or tour a working farm. When your stomach says it’s time to eat, enjoy the abundance of the fall harvest with a hearty home-cooked meal and slice of delicious homemade pie, trademarks of the region.
For many anglers, lazy fall days are made for casting a line into picturesque farm ponds and gently moving streams. The fish are feeding enthusiastically in a variety of waterways this time of year, as they begin storing up fat reserves in preparation of winter. Fall weather brings good catches of catfish; smallmouth, largemouth and hybrid-striped bass; an assortment of panfish (bluegill are my personal favorite); as well as saugeye and sauger. Up on Lake Erie, fishing for the tasty yellow perch picks up during September and October both from a boat and on shore.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Ohio has an abundance of trails, and autumn is one of the best times to get out on one of these pathways into nature. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park a hidden treasure nestled between Cleveland and Akron can be experienced on foot, bicycle, horseback and train. Both the Cuyahoga River and cultural history wind their way through this 33,000-acre park, which features a towpath trail along the historic Ohio & Erie Canal.
Pick apples and pumpkins
It could be said that the “fruits” of autumn are best symbolized in Ohio by the apple and the pumpkin. With their intoxicating fragrance, apples lure many of us into orchards to pick these delicious red and gold orbs by the bushel full. Another favorite Buckeye tradition is a trip to the pumpkin patch, where much ado is made about which will make the perfect jack-o-lantern. For added fun, keep an eye out for those locations that include a hayride and cider as part of the pumpkin patch experience.
Fall hunting is a big part of Ohio’s outdoor heritage. From the first days of September, exciting times are spent in the field with family and friends enjoying this long-held tradition. Fall is also one of the best times to introduce a young person to the enjoyment of hunting. Throughout the season, several youth-only hunts will be held around the state for popular game species, such as rabbit, waterfowl and white-tailed deer.
It might be jacket weather in the Buckeye State, but some quality boating days still lie ahead. One of the most rewarding times to be on the water is at daybreak, when the chilled air of autumn causes steam to rise and form ghostly shapes over our lakes and streams. Afternoon sunshine intensifies the reds, yellows, oranges and purples of fall. These vibrant colors reflect off the water’s glassy surface, providing boaters a double dose of seasonal splendor.
There is truly nothing better than an evening spent around the campfire sharing stories, roasting marshmallows and breathing the cool autumn air. With its warm days and chilly nights, fall is an ideal time to round up family and friends and go camping. To make these outings even more special, some state parks and private campgrounds feature activities that highlight the season, such as hayrides and guided moon-lit walks.
Still looking for fun fall ideas? How about visiting one of the many fall festivals going on across the state? These seasonal celebrations include the Annual Heritage Days at Malabar Farm State Park in Richland County, the Paul Bunyan Show in Athens County, and the popular Circleville Pumpkin Show in Pickaway County. You can also enjoy the scenic autumn beauty of Ohio’s north coast with a drive on the Lake Erie Circle Tour. In addition to spectacular lake views, there are quaint shops to stroll through, historic sites to visit and some unique eateries to sit have a good meal.
There are countless ways to enjoy autumn in Ohio … the hardest part is finding time to experience them all! To learn more about fall color in the Buckeye State, visit ohiodnr.com or call 1-800-BUCKEYE.