It’s the most wonderful time of the year when fall colors in Cleveland start to appear!
Whether you hike one of the many parks, enjoy the coastal views, or prefer city life, I have the perfect destinations for leaf peeping in Cleveland, Ohio. Once you see hints of vivid reds, outstanding oranges, and bright yellows peeking through the green you know it’s time to catch those fleeting fall moments.
I’ll be sharing my favorite places to view fall colors in Cleveland that are about 30 minutes or less from Downtown, Cleveland. Be sure to add one or more of these awesome destinations to your fall bucket list as a kickstart to your fall colors in Cleveland adventure.
Post updated September 2023
When is Peak Leaf Peeping in Cleveland?
Based on the 2023 Fall Foliage Prediction Map by the Smokey Mountain National Park, peak fall leaf colors in the Cleveland to Akron area will be just before mid-Octobe with southern parts of Ohio following within the next week or two. With small hints of fall color already showing up near Cleveland, it’s time to make some plans on where to see the best colors!
Fun fact about colorful fall foliage
Surprisingly, many trees’ leaves are actually the colors we see during fall.
Several trees have a chemical called chlorophyll that absorbs light and therefore produces the green leaf color. Since this green color is actually masking the other colors of the tree leaf, we see green during the spring and summer seasons. Once fall comes around and we have less sunlight and cooler weather, the chlorophyll begins to break down and we start to see the other colors of the tree leaves. You’ll notice that not all trees change color during autumn. Only some species of deciduous trees like birch, oak, maple, beech, and aspen produce vibrant leaf colors.
Here is a very informative article on leaf color changing over at Almanac.com.
Cleveland Weather in The Fall
During September, October, and November, you can get the full spectrum of weather. One day, you’re outside in shorts because it’s 80 degrees and sunny, the next day it’s hoodie weather because it’s 50 degrees and gray and rainy outside. It’s truly hard to predict what you’re going to get when it comes to the weather so it’s best to be flexible if you can.
I recommend carrying a good pair of waterproof or repellant boots (I have these, and they are awesome), a packable rain jacket (this is my favorite rain jacket), or an umbrella (this is mine, it’s great for photoshoots!) with you just in case.
The Best Leaf Peeping Destinations in & Near Cleveland Ohio
When it comes to beautiful fall colors, Cleveland does not get the recognition it deserves. Undoubtedly, you can find some of the most intensely beautiful bursts of color throughout the hundreds of acres of parks spanning Northeast Ohio. Finally, I will be sharing 21 of my favorite spots to catch amazing fall views below. Be sure to share this post with friends or save it for reference later. On to the colors!
The Cleveland Metroparks
Presently, there are 18 reservations within the Cleveland Metroparks, each having its own unique attractions from being on the Lake Erie shoreline to having its own lakes and ponds. Find huge rocky cliffs, cascading waterfalls, hundreds of hiking trails, and beyond. While each of the 18 reservations is worth a visit, below are some of my favorites when it comes to fall colors in Cleveland.
1. Berea Falls Scenic Overlook at Rocky River Reservation
In my opinion, Rocky River surely is one of the best Reservations in all the Metroparks. Also, as a photographer, I find the vivid bursts of colors with the contrast of the grey rocks to make an excellent photo op. While these things are beautiful, it’s also a versatile destination with an overlook, an easy to get to a rocky area, and a simple but stunning waterfall that adds to the charm.
Visit | 200 Barrett Rd, Berea, Ohio 44017
2. Fort Hill Stairs at Rocky River Reservation
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a workout with epic views of fall colors in Cleveland, Fort Hill Stairs are for you. These iconic stairs are 155 steps ascending 90 feet above Rocky River, undeniably giving you breathtaking almost 180-degree views of Rocky River Reservation. Additionally, there are other attractions and trails nearby making this stop a must-visit during Fall like the Channel Pond and Nature Center. Equally enjoyable are the nearby trails: Fort Loop, W Channel, and Mt Pleasant Loop Trails.
Visit | Just off of Valley Parkway between Shepard Lane and Cedar Point Road, North Olmsted, Ohio 44070
3. Squire’s Castle at North Chagrin Reservation
If you’re looking for a fairytale fall, you certainly must visit Squire’s Castle at North Chagrin Reservation. Modeled after German and English baronial castles, this unfinished gatehouse was built during the late 1800s. Additionally, the trails behind the castle are full of wooden bridges and staircases further adding to the fairytale vibes.
Visit | 2844 River Rd, Willoughby Hills, Ohio 44094
4. Tinker’s Creek Gorge Overlook at Bedford Reservation
If you want an easy-to-access but beautiful destination to see fall colors in Cleveland then you will love the Tinker’s Creek Gorge Overlook. Since the parking lot is directly across from the overlook deck, it makes this not only an easy-to-reach view but accessible, too. The Gorge is a National Natural Landmark designated for its rarity, diversity, value to science, education, and more.
Visit | Gorge Parkway, between Dunham and Egbert Roads, Walton Hills, Ohio 44146
5. Deer Lick Cave in Brecksville Reservation
A long time ago, this part of Ohio was once covered by an ocean. Salt from the ocean was trapped in the sands along the shore which in turn became embedded in the sandstone. Now the deers lick the rock to get salt in their diet they cannot get from the vegetation, which is where the name came from. While this is more of a rock overhang than a cave, it’s still a really cool hike and view during the fall.
Visit | Valley Parkway just after Meadows Drive Brecksville, Ohio 44141
6. Whipp’s Ledges at Hinkley Reservation
If you want a strenuous hike with your fall color views in Cleveland, then check out the Whipp’s Ledges Trail. This trail, just a little over 1 mile, gives you views of moss-covered Sharon Conglomerate sandstone and trees with a 223-foot elevation in the early part of your hike. Bonus: Check out nearby Worden’s Ledges to get photos of some strange carved faces and icons on the ledges throughout the woods.
Visit | Hinckley Lake Loop Trail, Hinckley, Ohio 44233
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
As one of the most popular, yet, underrated National Parks, Cuyahoga Valley has an endless supply of amazing views, From waterfalls to covered barns, marshes, and rocky cliffs. Just about any part of the park is going to be worth a visit during the fall.
7. Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
This is the park’s biggest waterfall and most picturesque. Take the walkway down to stand in front of the falls, or continue on the trail above to get a birdseye view.
Visit | 8176 Brandywine Road, Sagamore Hills, Ohio 44067
Related: Check out my Cuyahoga Valley National Park Travel Guide for more details
8. Blue Hen Falls Cuyahoga Valley National Park
A 15-foot waterfall that requires a little bit of an elevated hike to get to, but the views are worth it. It’s fairly easy to hike down into the falls area, or you can stay above and view from the overlook.
Visit | 6947 Riverview Road Peninsula, Ohio 44264
9. Everett Covered Bridge in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Get major fall feels when visiting this old-time-covered bridge in Cuyahoga Valley. The vivid red pops when seen through the fall foliage making it a perfect photo op. Don’t be surprised if you catch a fall photo session on weekends as this is a popular family and portrait shoot location.
Visit | 2370 Everett Road, Peninsula, Ohio 44264
The Holden Forests & Gardens
The outdoor spaces of the Holden Forests & Gardens are truly a gift to the Cleveland area. Expansive forests, gardens, exhibits, and other attractions span two main locations: The Holden Arboretum and The Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Both with their own unique attributes and attractions, they make the perfect fall getaway for fall colors in Cleveland (area).
10. Murch Canopy Walk & Kalberer Emergent Tower
Stroll 65 feet above the trees with this 500-foot-long suspension bridge walkway of Murch Canopy Walk. Gain an immersive forest experience as you walk through a mature forest, and get elevated views of the streams and forest floor below. Or you can gain new heights at the Kalber Emergent Tower, a 120-foot/12-story tall tower providing 360 degrees of breathtaking views as far as Lake Erie. Both the Canopy Walk and Tower are included in General admission to the Holden Arboretum. Weather permitting, they open at 10 am daily and close 15 minutes prior to park closing.
This isn’t all you can do, the Holden Arboretum is packed full of nature from fun outdoor experiences, and nature-focused art installations, to natural attractions. Definitely worth a stroll so be sure to plan for a couple of hours to visit.
Visit | 9550 Sperry Road, Kirtland, Ohio 44094
11. The Cleveland Botanical Gardens
Explore outdoor gardens of topiaries, roses, herbs, trees, and even a rainforest in this beautiful greenspace in the city. Any season is lovely to visit, but fall is always the most spectacular.
Visit | 11030 East Boulevard, Cleveland Ohio, 44106
The Lake Erie Shores
One of the best parts of Cleveland, Ohio is being on the shores of Lake Erie. You would be surprised at how many people had no idea Cleveland has beaches. While these aren’t the sandy beaches you will find on the coast, there are many unique Cleveland-area beach destinations worth a visit. These are some of my favorite beaches that offer epic lake views and fall colors in Cleveland.
12. The Lake Erie Bluffs
Just 30 minutes east of Downtown Cleveland and part of the Lake Metroparks is the Lake Erie Bluffs. A unique 50-foot tall tower offering 360 degrees of coastal and forest views. This nationally significant area full of wetlands, meadows, and undeveloped lakefront has a 40-foot high beach bluff. It also has 9000 feet of sandy and cobblestoned beach, trees, shrubs, and small plants, many rare species.
Visit | 3301 Lane Road, Perry Township, Ohio 44081
13. Edgewater Beach & Upper Edgewater
The home of Cleveland’s most famous and loved tree, a weeping willow that mysteriously started growing along the shore over 50 years ago. The beach is surrounded by trees so you can get a nice visit to the lake and vivid fall colors all at once. If you want more trees, try visiting Upper Edgewater. Here, you can also capture one of the Cleveland Script Signs.
Visit | Edgewater Beach, Cleveland, Ohio 44102
14. Columbia Road Park
This is a bit of a secret spot with a cascading waterfall that goes right into Lake Erie and a nice little staircase that takes you down to the falls. While there isn’t much of a beach here, there’s an epic cliff wall, a waterfall that cascades through the woods, and a tree-lined staircase. All of these make for fun fall photos, plus you get great Lake Erie views,
Visit | 25436 Lake Road Bay Village, Ohio 44140
15. Lakewood Park
This 31-acre lakefront park has a huge green space full of trees. It is also known for its views of the Downtown and Solstice Steps. Enjoy the fall colors in Cleveland at this local’s favorite park.
Visit | 14532 Lake Ave, Lakewood, Ohio 44107
16. Huntington Beach & Reservation
Huntington Beach is below a tree-covered bluff overlooking Lake Erie giving you optimal beach and colorful tree views during the fall. Across the street, you’ll find one of my favorite hidden gem locations with a creek, a small valley, and plenty of trees showing off their beautiful bold colors.
Neighborhood Fall Finds
Can’t make it to a park or the lake? Get your dose of fall colors in Cleveland while visiting one of its many neighborhoods. Historic to the trendy, these are some of my favorite neighborhoods to spend the day and see fall colors. I’ve also linked some of my Cleveland neighborhood guides to help you plan your visit.
This popular Cleveland Ohio neighborhood is full of historic charm, restaurants, galleries, and trees. Take a stroll through the streets of Tremont, and visit Loop for coffee and records. Grab a bite to eat or a drink at Barrio, Literary Tavern, or Cloak & Dagger and stroll the neighborhood. There are lots of tree-lined streets to enjoy as you explore.
Visit my Tremont Neighborhood Guide for more shopping, restaurants, and things to do while in Tremont.
18. Ohio City
The historic Ohio City neighborhood is one of my favorites and offers historic and trendy fall scenes. From the tree-filled streets lined with old homes, to the newer construction. There is a lot to do in this popular Cleveland neighborhood. Visit Him & His and Helm Collective for curated vintage finds. Or, explore the new City Goods inside unique dome-shaped buildings offering goods from 20 local makers. (opens 9/16/22). Grab a comfort bite from Jukebox or Nano Brew, or get a little fancier at Amba or Bartleby. Grab a hot beverage at Lekko Coffee or enjoy cold treats at Mason’s Creamery as you stroll the neighborhood.
Explore my Ohio City Neighborhood Guide for so many more great things to do around this neighborhood.
19. Chagrin Falls
This east-side village is full of old-world charm. From antique brick buildings covered in vines to its huge waterfall going through the main part of town. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to fill your day visiting this charming village and its tree-lined waterfall. Grab an ice cream from Jeni’s, popcorn from Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop, or sweets from Kelsey Elizabeth’s new shop. Stroll the shops along N Main Street like White Magnolia, Fireside Bookshop, or Apple Jax Toys vintage shop. Grab something warm to drink at Heartwood Coffee Roasters or grab a bite to eat at Paris Room, Flip Side, or 17 River Grill (with views of the waterfall).
20. University Circle
University Circle has several schools and universities as well as many of Cleveland’s museums. With all these buildings comes beautiful landscaping that you can see throughout the neighborhood. From the outdoor spaces of the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Botanical Gardens to the parks and green spaces like Toby’s Plaza, Rockefeller Park & Greenhouse, Wade Oval, and the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. Also cutting through parts of University Circle is the final resting place for many famous Clevelander’s Lakeview Cemetery. You are also very close to Little Italy, Cleveland’s historic and quaint Italian district full of delicious restaurants, bakeries, and charm.