General aviation planes, balloons pressed into service for fall leaf watching

LOGAN, Ohio — Southeast Ohio’s Hocking Hills now offers a number of elevated ways for visitors to experience breathtaking autumn views from the best seat in the house: The sky.

The area’s 10,000 acres of unbroken forests, waterfalls, caves and soaring rock faces and blackhand sandstone formations include a mix of tree species that creates a blazing tapestry of color, including Maple’s fiery red and orange, Aspen’s bright yellow to gold, Oakey brown and rust and deep evergreen, gracefully provided by Pine and Hemlock.

Taking leaf peeping to a higher level, Hocking Hills Hot Air Ballooning offers the ultimate “high,” year round, weather permitting. Travelers float noiselessly just above the area’s thousands of acres of forests. The balloons can take up to four guests.

Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours is run by veteran pilot and flight instructor Harry Sowers, who customizes flights in his general aviation aircraft based on where visitors want to go. The plane holds up to three and flights range from 20 minutes to an hour, starting at $75 for two people.

Hocking Valley Scenic Railway shows off the area’s foliage with historic train rides Thurs.-Sun. Oct. 1-30. On Oct. 19, visitors can enjoy wine and cheese during the 7 p.m. Fall Wine Train, which supports the local performing arts venue, Stuart’s Opera House.

October also gives visitors two free organized scenic fall foliage hikes from which to choose. On Saturday, Oct. 13, the annual Grandma Gatewood Fall Color Hike takes visitors on the six-mile Grandma Gatewood trail, from Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls and back, starting at 1 p.m. The three-mile Lake Hope Fall Hike begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 with a cup of sassafras tea and ends with bean soup and cornbread at Lake Hope Furnace.

For more information: www.1800Hocking.com or 800-Hocking (800-462-5464).

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