It’s almost leaf peeping season in Pittsburgh — here’s what 2018 has in store

Fall foliage reports start Thursday.

Maranie Staab / Riverlife
MJ Slaby

If you’ve got visions of fall leaves dancing in your head — make sure there’s a filter on them.

This year’s leaf peeping season is expected to have more muted colors than in the past, said Rachel Mahony, environmental education specialist at the Forbes District of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry.

And it’s the damp summer and wet start to the fall that we have to thank — or curse — for that.

“Whenever there’s excessive moisture, the colors are more muted and a lot of the leaves that have fallen are still green,” Mahony said, adding that the leaves are falling prematurely due to moisture and the wind.

While environment experts like her can and do make predictions, the best leaf peeping time can change in the blink of an eye or a windstorm.

“I’m just curious to see what it’s going to look like,” she said.

Wolf Rocks Overlook

Wolf Rocks Overlook

daveynin / Flickr

2018 leaf peeping

With this year’s muted colors and looming potential for change, the motto for leaf peeping is: Don’t wait.

“Every fall the change happens so quickly,” Mahony said, adding that people should be mindful of how abrupt it can be.

So do your research.

In general, the colors change starting in the north and the higher elevations and move to the lower, more southern areas, Mahony explained. So typically, the best time for leaf peeping in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County is the third week and weekend in October, she said.

But keep an eye on the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resource’s fall foliage reports. The reports are published weekly for six weeks, starting on Thursday.

Mahony also recommended checking out the DCNR’s events calendar for hikes and other ways to enjoy the fall colors without having to plan it all yourself.

Once you check out the leaves, be sure to mark it on your #InclineFallBingo board.

Don’t be discouraged by the expected muted colors either, Mahony added. “Even if the colors aren’t going to be as amazing, each fall is beautiful.”