This weekend's sunny weather provides a great opportunity to take in the colorful scenery of fall during a hike at an area park, a canoe trip down the Sandusky River or a drive in a scenic area.
Near peak conditions are expected across northern Ohio this weekend, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Ohio's state parks, forests and nature preserves are open despite the national parks shutdown, and Seneca County's local parks offer some of the best scenery and hiking trails in the area to see the reds, oranges and yellows of autumn.
"Throughout the fall season, Ohio State Parks offer a variety of organized hikes that provide an amazing perspective of the Buckeye State's beautiful and diverse natural terrains," ODNR Fall Color Forester Casey Burdick said in a news release. "State parks like Hocking Hills and Mohican as well as preserves like Conkle's Hollow are stunning on a normal day, but when these places are draped with beautiful fall color, the experience is breathtaking."
Locally, one recommendation is a 15-minute drive along the Sandusky River on River Road from Tiffin's Junior Home Park at the intersection of Huss Street and River Road near Tiffin Developmental Center to Seneca County Park District's Steyer Nature Preserve, 5901 N. CR 33. Then take a hike on Steyer preserve's trails. Found along the way is Ridgway Canoe Livery.
Another 15-minute route could start at SCPD's Forrest Nature Preserve, 701 E. CR 6, and end at Howard Collier State Nature Preserve, 1655 W. TR 38. Travel west on CR 6 to St. Johns Bridge and turn left onto TR 131. Follow TR 131 to TR 38 and turn left. Start out with a hike along Honey Creek at Forrest preserve, hop back in the car and end with another hike along the Sandusky River at Collier preserve.
ODNR encourages people to take fall color photos and upload them to social media using ODNR's hashtag, #ohiofallcolor2013. Follow @ohiodnr on Twitter and Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Facebook to see more fall color photos.
To add a more country drive to this route, start instead at Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve, 5777 S. SR 19, Bloomville. From Garlo drive south and turn west onto CR 6. Nine miles later, Forrest preserve will be on the right.
Anybody who wishes to drive a little further can try out one or both of the fall foliage tours suggested to ODNR.
The first starts in Bowling Green and ends at Catawba Island for a little more than 50 miles, or 1.5 hours. For good color viewing, ODNR recommends taking SR 105 to SR 163 to SR 53.
Another recommendation starts in Perrysburg and moves west to Defiance down SR 65 to SR 100 and SR 424. The 1.5-hour trip is also a little more than 50 miles with stops along the Maumee River at Mary Jane Thurston and Independence Dam state parks.
Anyone interested in keeping tabs on the most captivating leaves can check out fallcolor.ohiodnr.gov. This website includes weekly color updates and information to help plan a fall color adventure as well as videos from Burdick that will highlight color hot spots around the state and provide information about some of Ohio's 100-plus tree species.
There also are links to fall activities and more scenic road trips.