To those of us who can hardly wait to bite into a crisp fall apple, warm up to the taste of hot, spiced cider or savor a stroll through color-drenched wood lots, October is one of the best months of the year to be in Ohio. And foresters with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, promise this October will be just as vibrant and beautiful as any in the state's forested areas - despite the hot, dry summer.
ODNR Forester Bill Schultz, an expert on Ohio's Fall Color season, says the state's rural forests are hearty and healthy and more than able to withstand two or three months of hot, dry weather. In southern and eastern Ohio, where "leaf peepers" line highways and hiking trails during October's golden weekends, the dense forests will turn their usual purples, reds, browns and oranges right on schedule throughout October.
"Mother Nature has made the forests very resilient to extreme weather conditions," Schultz noted. "Some tree species are less tolerant of the dry conditions and will drop their leaves early as a survival mechanism. But many others are able to withstand the dry periods and hold their color."
Beyond the moisture factor, it's the bright, sunny days and cool nights of late September that determine color brilliancy, along with each day's lessening hours of sunlight. In short, leaves stop producing chlorophyll, causing their green color to fade. Other gold and orange pigments, which have been present all along, start to show through. At the same time, cool nights cause leaf veins to close up, preventing sugars from being released. As sugars accumulate in the leaf, they stimulate chemicals that bring on the red and purple hues. The end result is the blazing forest fireworks that draw thousands of people to the Ohio outdoors in the autumn!
Among the most popular seasonal events are the annual Fall Foliage Event at Conkle's Hollow State Nature Preserve in Hocking County (October 19-20); the Fall Hike at Lake Hope State Park in Vinton County (October 19); the Canal Walk at Beaver Creek State Park in Columbiana County (October 13) and the Lighthouse Festival at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park in Ottawa County (October 12).
Other popular seasonal events include Pioneer Craft Days at Beaver Creek State Park on October 5-6; Rural Ohio Appalachia Revisited (ROAR) Day at Lake Hope State Park on October 26 and the Fall Color Float on the Maumee River at Mary Jane Thurston State Park in Wood County on October 26. Call the individual parks or consult the Ohiodnr.com web site for additional information on these and other special seasonal events.
The Ohiodnr.com web site offers an array of things to do and see this fall in Ohio, including a full range of activities, a list of best trails for seasonal hikes, best routes for driving, and best places to snap fall panoramas with a camera.
Make the most of Ohio's spectacular change of seasons. There's no better time to be in Ohio than in the coming month.