As summer fades into autumn, the leaves begin to change, bringing with them colorful hues. With this summer’s relatively cool temperatures and frequent rainfall, especially later in the season, those vibrant gold, red and orange shades should offer a spectacular show this year.
“Trees, in the cold weather, can lose a lot of moisture through their leaves,” explains Bess Trout, a gardener at Tyler Arboretum in Media. “They take the energy from the leaf that they can to store it for winter and seal off the leaf from the plant so that it’s no longer attached by the vascular system to the tree, and then it falls off.” The color, she says, comes from a lack of chlorophyll, which keeps leaves green during the warmer months.
The Main Line and surrounds have no shortage of spots to witness this annual phenomenon. Here are three spots perfect for going for a hike, taking photos or enjoying a picnic.
A Delaware County fall staple, this non-profit public garden is the oldest of its kind in the northeastern United States. The arboretum’s calendar is full of events, but its the trees that are taking the spotlight. “Our native North American tree species—sugar maples and Northern Red Oaks—have spectacular fall color to the point where those trees are often planted in England because their trees don’t color like ours,” Trout says. Wander the grounds of this gem from late September through early November.
Once an abandoned rail line, Radnor Trail stretches 2.1 miles through Radnor Township. On Saturdays, foliage watching can be accompanied by a to-go lunch from the Lancaster County Farmers Market. Carry it to the picnic section of the trail for a quintessentially autumnal experience. Afterwards, take a right at the Brooke Road exit, which eventually leads to Chanticleer, revered as one of the greatest gardens in the region.
This sprawling park is hosting a number of events catering to the changing leaves. Trail Tuesdays with the Valley Forge Park Alliance promotes healthy living with walks beginning at the visitor center parking lot at 10 a.m. For those who want to explore on their own, the park offers 3,600 acres with trails, historically significant spots like Washington’s Headquarters, Washington Memorial Chapel and the PC Knox Estate.