Like molten gold pouring from a crucible, fall color is blanketing the state, rolling south from the Lake Erie shores to the Ohio River.

Like molten gold pouring from a crucible, fall color is blanketing the state, rolling south from the Lake Erie shores to the Ohio River.

This glowing harvest palette is the year’s best excuse for a road trip, for exploring somewhere new, for getting lost on purpose. Starting this week, I’ll have a series of trip guides for different regions starting to turn.

Begin your autumnal adventure about 2.5 hours from Columbus in the mighty but relatively unknown Holden Arboretum, 3,600 acres of wooded tracts and exquisite plant collections in the small town of Kirtland. Hike the 1.5 mile Bole Woods Trail, a loop cut through a gorgeous forest of beech and maple, then add another mile by circling Corning Lake on your walk back.

From Holden, it’s a 20-minute drive to the North Chagrin Reservation. This Cleveland Metropark includes some of the state’s most peculiar attractions and miles of winding, wooded lanes that will be bordered by foliage in full splendor.

Meander up the grand lawn to Squire’s Castle, a country estate started but never finished by oil magnate Feargus B. Squire. Its stone walls and fireplaces still stand, though the main event in terms of leaves unfolds in the hilly trails behind the house. Take a few hours to explore those before stopping to watch waterfowl at Sunset Pond.

The reservation’s sister, South Chagrin Reservation, lies roughly 10 miles down Chagrin River Road, a scenic treat for those who don’t want to exit the car. Upon arrival, you’ll find a land of hemlock gorges, riverside meadows and the odd, hand-carved Squaw Rock.

In some ways, this itinerary saves the best for last — Cuyahoga Valley National Park. On your drive back to Columbus, detour to the Boston Store area, located in the center of the long, skinny preserve.

To see rugged, rocky Blue Hen Falls — one of several picturesque water features — head northwest on the Buckeye Trail and loop back on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

· This is the first in a four-part series covering all the best places to see Ohio’s leaves change color. For full foliage reports, visit ohiodnr.com/fallcolor.