The rich, warm hues of autumn are already hitting trees across the state.
All of the dogwoods around Harrisburg seem to be completely colored their deep reddish purple, and red maples are showing some color, too, said Ed Dix, a forester with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry.
"Looks like the fall foliage season is maybe running a bit early," he said.
Dix attributes the early start to the recent bright, clear days and cool nights. The sunlight affects the pigments in the leaves and brings out the vibrant, redder hues; the cool nights help keep the pigment inside.
With the head start to the season, he said Yorkers can expect the fall colors to peak around the third week of October.
And that means making plans to see the leaves before it's too late, he said, as storms
can knock leaves and branches down, which isn't so pretty.
"It's best to get out early before some cold front moves through," Dix said.
Heading into the weekend, it seems the foliage-friendly weather will continue in York: Each day's high is in the 70s, lows are in the high 40s and low 50s, and all are slated to be at least mostly sunny, according to the National Weather Service.
'The best place': Eastern North America is one of the best places in the world to see the changing of the leaves, Dix said. Out West the trees are mostly evergreens; Europe doesn't have the variety of species; and the tropics don't see enough of a change in season, he said.
Even New England, a region touted for its fall foliage, has only 74 varieties of trees -- Pennsylvania boasts almost twice that, with 134 species, Dix said.
And one of the best things about that is there's a lot of variation in time and color, he said.
"So we have a really long season," Dix said, as it stretches from mid-October to the end of the month or the first days of November.
Credit goes to the Ice Age for that: When glaciers came down into the Northern United States, deciduous trees retreated farther south into regions like Pennsylvania, he said.
"That's why we are probably in the best place in the entire world, and we need to take advantage of it," Dix said.
A different view: Around this time of year, Gifford Pinchot State Park in Warrington Township sees extra visitors who come to experience the changing leaves, said assistant manager Gavin Smith.
"We have a lot of hiking enthusiasts that show up that do our lakeside trail," he said. "People are already showing up."
And the park's lake is a great accent to the foliage, Smith said.
"It kind of puts a nice frame on the trees themselves. Seeing them lakeside, it kind of frames your picture," he said.
And getting out on the lake in a canoe, kayak, rowboat or motorboat is an interesting way to view the leaves, Smith said.
"I would say that would be my recommendation for seeing the lake and the colors from a different perspective," he said. "It is amazing how much different the park looks just from getting out on the water."
Visitors can rent water equipment at the park on weekends till Sunday, Oct. 13, but plans should be made soon, as the leaves are already a mix of red, orange, yellow and green, Smith said.
"You're getting kind of an early taste of it," he said.
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry begins its weekly fall foliage reports this week. Visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry to browse local sightings and maps.
-- Reach Mollie Durkin at email@example.com.