A Surge of Fall Colors in Yellow Springs

fall leaves

Photo Credit: Pixabay/Pexels

I have called Ohio home for over 24 years. In this time, I’ve come to realize it’s common among those hailing from the East Coast or West Coast to write off the Midwest as an endless stretch of flat land and farms, with little to do besides drive around our small towns. We make up the "flyover states," as Jason Aldean would put it.

But in my eyes, the small towns reflect so much character, and our rivers, lakes, and forests can be just as awe-inspiring as a view of the ocean or mountains. Beauty can be found in the most unexpected places, if you simply know where to go and when to look — and the Midwest really shines as the leaves start to change in autumn.

Small towns reflect so much character, and our rivers, lakes, and forests can be just as awe-inspiring as a view of the ocean or mountains.

I’ve visited many destinations around the state including Alum Creek, Hocking Hills, and Caesar’s Creek State Park, all of which boast brilliant colors and sights. However, one place sticks out in my mind as the epitome of fall in Ohio: Yellow Springs.

Situated about 30 minutes east of Dayton and an hour west of Columbus, even the city’s name gives off a hint of rich color and originality. During the crisp fall season, myriad reds, oranges, and yellows take over the small village and surrounding nature preserves and parks.

Grateful to Call This 'Flyover' State Home

To truly appreciate the area’s allure, you need to throw on your hiking shoes and wander a bit off the beaten path. Glen Helen Nature Preserve, Clifton Gorge, and John Bryan State Park make up the region’s sanctuaries, complete with scenic trails, limestone cliffs, waterfalls, rivers, and, of course Glen Helen’s beautiful yellow spring, which helped give the town its name. The Richard P. Eastman Covered Bridge and the historic Clifton Mill, one of the largest water-powered gristmills to still exist, also top the list of iconic must-sees.

Just a couple miles away from these lush parks lies Young’s Jersey Dairy. This fully functional dairy farm grows fields full of pumpkins every fall, fresh for the picking. And then the range of other activities it offers includes a petting zoo, kids' corn maze, mini-golf, and delicious homemade ice cream.

For the perfect ending to an autumn day, before heading back into town for dinner at a mom-and-pop restaurant or to peruse the eclectic shops, Yellow Springs provides one more opportunity to stop and smell the flowers. Perhaps my favorite attraction in the area is the Tecumseh Sunflower Field — a stretch of land that typically blooms in late August or early September with an abundance of tall sunflowers. Unfortunately this year, the field was not planted due to COVID, but my hopes are high for 2021.

I’m grateful for this one-of-a-kind town and all the small pieces of beauty that exist all around me. Just one more reason I’m proud to call this "flyover state" my home.

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