Spectacular fall color without a long drive

While heading out to Ohio's countryside will certainly provide magnificent views of the changing foliage in October, there are plenty of places to appreciate the beauty of the season close to home. Local nature experts share their favorite spots to go leaf-peeping around the city.

John Switzer, Dispatch nature columnist: “All the Metro Parks that have woods are good places, of course, but I don't have any special place to head for in the fall. Every woods is a fairyland in autumn, especially when the sunshine comes through the leaves—it's almost blinding it's so beautiful. Right here in Arlington, there's a little woods where North Star dead ends with Zollinger (1). It's just beautiful in there. It's no special place; normally you pass by there and don't even notice it.”

Jim Long, city of Columbus forester: “Locationswhere you can getabove thetreecanopy,especially near waterways,are often favorites.To name a few local favorites:Derby Hill at Big Run Park (2), Hoover Dam (3) and Hayden Falls (4).”

Mary Maloney, director of Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens, Ohio State University: “The Ohio State University Chadwick Arboretum (5) is an accessible expanse of fall color in all three garden sites on the Columbus campus. From the vibrant maples to the golden glow of the herbaceous amsonia, visitors are invited to stroll through our 60-acre gardens every day of the week. Admission is free and open to the public every day. Sitting in our labyrinth garden and fully breathing in the cotton candy scent of the golden katsura tree while listening to the soothing bird songs is one of many ways to enjoy the tree canopy. Strolling around our lake path is another place of restorative respite on our hectic urban campus.”

Peg Hanley, Metro Parks spokeswoman: “If you are unable to hike the trails, or just want to take the family for a quick peek at the changing fall colors without getting out of your car, head to Blendon Woods (6). Beginning in October, we open up the road to the Sugarbush Day Camp for the park's annual Fall Driving Tour. Visitors can see an array of spectacular fall colors hanging from the trees along this two-mile route.”

Eric Albrecht, Dispatch photographer: “I live Downtown, and if a need a place to walk, I usually head toward [the Scioto]Audubon [Metro] Park (7). The maples close to the center are usually spectacular. The other spot that many people don't think about is Green Lawn Cemetery (8)—the ginkgo trees are [an] interesting yellow color and often turn the roadway into a yellow path.”

Rick Gardner, chief botanist, Ohio Department of Natural Resources: “My two favorite areas are the east-facing slope of the Scioto River valley in the Dublin area (9) and the Olentangy River valley in the Worthington-Mount Air area (10).I like seeing the reflection of the leaves on the water in the evening and the white bark of sycamore trees with the bright leaf colors of the sugar maples.”