Leaf Peeper’s Guide to SusqCo

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." - LM Montgomery

Even though there is a reason in every season to visit Susquehanna County, we think it’s an extra special place to be in the Fall. Blue skies, crisp air and omg – those leaves! According to the fall foliage map at smokymountains.com (https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/) we’re set to hit the PEAK of leaf season around start of the second week of October. And… hey… that’s a holiday weekend! One whole extra day to experience the best season in SusqCo!

Make your reservation, pack a weekend bag, and head out on the road. We’ve mapped out a quick route of some places that offer great fall views, must-see attractions and where you can fill your belly along the ride.

We’ve created a handy Google map (link below) you can use as a guide. We started just off Interstate 81, Exit 230 (Great Bend) but this route works just as well in reverse – begin the journey at Interstate 81, Exit 211 (Lenox).

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1vrWD60wwje9QPK95k0fcviM-robGrAI&usp=sharing

Writer’s Note: The first leg of the journey runs parallel to the Susquehanna River – watch for an exhilarating glimpse of one of our many pairs of nesting Bald Eagles that make their home in the area.

  1. Red Rock BBQ & Ice Cream: Phillybite.com named Red Rock BBQ as the #1 place to find great barbecue in Pennsylvania! We agree! Brisket sliders, ribs, pulled pork, fried chicken and your choice of sauces and sides. Did we mention the smoked wings? Yeah…. Add an order of those, too (you’ll thank us later.) https://www.eatredrockbbq.com/
  2. Priesthood Restoration Site: Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, lived in the area with his wife, Emma, from 1827-30. There is a visitors’ center, sculptures and or take a guided tour of the reconstructed modest home of Joseph and Emma Smith, as well as the home of Emma’s parents, Isaac and Elizabeth Hale. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/learn/locations/priesthood-restoration-site?lang=eng
  3. Ira Reynolds Riverfront Park: Enjoy the pristine walking trail in Ira Reynolds Riverfront Park in Susquehanna Depot. The former railroad industry site has been reclaimed as a Pennsylvania Brownfield to Playfield Project. The Clapper Model Train Exhibit highlights the local history of the Erie Railroad. https://susquehannaborough.com/
  4. Starrucca Viaduct: Constructed for the Erie Railroad and completed in 1848. It is 1040 feet long, 25 feet wide at the top, and features 17 stone arches. It is the oldest stone railroad bridge in Pennsylvania that is still in use and is constructed mostly from locally quarried Pennsylvania Bluestone. The Viaduct is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. https://lanesboropa.com/?page_id=84
  5. Florence Shelly Wetlands Preserve: The Nature Conservancy’s Florence Shelly Wetlands Preserve has woods, fields, streams, and a glacial pond surrounded by a floating bog. A path begins near the parking lot on Little Ireland Road and takes you through the hemlock forest to a lookout over the marsh. Guide sheets for the trail are available at the Stack Road Trailhead. In addition to the scenic beauty, this is a great place for birdwatching. https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/places-we-protect/florence-shelly-preserve/
  6. Arlo’s Country Store & Tavern: Gas, groceries, a deli, wine/beer, and there’s also full restaurant and live music on the weekends – all served up in the hippest setting. https://arloscountrystore.com/home
  7. Rail- Trail: Take a hike or bike on the 38-mile D&H Rail Trail, named Pennsylvania’s 2021 Trail of the Year. The trail runs from Simpson to the Starrucca Viaduct (there’s a trailhead there, too), to the New York border. The demand for coal grew during the Civil War and the D&H managers imagined building a 37-mile link between Carbondale and Lanesboro to move the coal west over the Erie Railroad. In 1870, the first loads of coal headed north on the newly completes lines. https://www.neparailtrails.org/
  8. Cable’s General Store: Located at the D&H’s Union Dale Trailhead, Cable’s has ben serving visitors and the community since 1910 with deli sandwiches, home baked goods, as well as healthy and guilty-pleasure snack options. https://www.cablesgeneralstore.com/
  9. Stillwater Dam: Stop by the Stillwater Dam Scenic Overlook for a view of the US Army Corps of Engineers earthen dam built as a flood control measure for the Lackawanna River. The 83-acre Stillwater Lake is open to public fishing, and the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission maintains a boat launch. Swimming and gasoline motors are prohibited on the lake. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=122212
  10. Elk Mountain: If sweeping fall foliage views are what you’re looking for – head to Elk Mountain Ski Resort. The annual Elk Mountain Fall Festival coincides with the peak of leaf season (October 7-8). In addition to offering festive foods, artisan and craft vendors, and hayrides. You can also take a chair lift ride to the top of the mountain (the highest mountain peak in Pennsylvania east of the Susquehanna River) to take in the view. https://www.elkskier.com/
  11. Clifford Township Community Park: This 29-acre park includes more than a mile of walking paths, ADA accessible walking trail, mountain biking trail access, two playgrounds, a pavilion, pickleball and basketball courts, a Covered Bridge, and access to the East Branch of the Tunkhannock Creek for fishing. Benches and picnic tables are located throughout the park and heated restroom facilities are available. https://cliffordtownship.org/township-park
  12. Bingham’s Family Restaurant: Cap off your Fall Foliage tour with a stop at Bingham’s Restaurant for some home cooking and fresh, homemade pies, breads and other baked goods. Enjoy a meal or pick up a tasty treat to enjoy later. https://www.binghamsfamilyrestaurant.com/
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