New England Fall Foliage
In fall (autumn), New England is famous for its glorious foliage as billions of leaves change from green to a kaleidoscope of colors. The air is crisp and cool – perfect for hiking, biking or a classic fly-drive break along back roads, where farm stands are piled high with crunchy apples and orange pumpkins.
When is the best time to come? The leaves start turning colors in the northern regions of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire typically around mid-to-late September and peaking around mid-October. In the more southern states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and along the coast of New Hampshire and southern Maine, color starts later and often lasts up until November. Use this helpful New Hampshire interactive fall foliage map to plug in potential dates and gauge peak foliage in the scenic mountain areas.
New England Fall Travel Ideas
Drive scenic State Route 169 parallel to the Rhode Island border, with picture-pretty villages such as Canterbury, Pomfret, Brooklyn, and Woodstock. In Old Mystic, tour B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill, America’s oldest steam-powered cider mill, family-owned and run since 1881. Watch cider-making demonstrations on weekends in October and November. During fall harvest time, learn the difference between Merlot and Chardonnay, Cayuga and Seyval at the 24 wineries along the Connecticut Wine Trail. Connecticut is one big orchard: in fall, pick your own pumpkins and apples. Or, hike and bike in the ‘Last Green Valley’, the 35-town National Heritage Corridor in the northeast corner of the state: 5 state parks, 7 state forests, 80 ponds and lakes, and 130 miles of trails, including the East Coast Greenway.
In the Mid-Coast, tour the Maine Maritime Museum, where you can see old boats, a shipyard and art, as well as take part in hands-on activities. Drive down a rocky promontory to Five Islands Lobster in Georgetown for a lobster roll: From Route 1, take 127 South. Local directions suggest: ‘Keep going until your hat floats, and then just back up a bit.’ Enjoy fall color all over Maine: go hiking and biking in Acadia National Park, canoe and listen to loons in the Rangeley Lakes. And, for a spectacular view, take the elevator to the Observatory high up on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge!
Drive along the Mohawk Trail in Western Massachusetts — America’s first officially-designated “scenic road.” It runs up and over the Berkshire Hills and leads to state parks and forests for hiking and biking. Drive to the top of Mount Greylock for fabulous foliage views. At the Natural Bridge State Park, see a true wonder, North America’s only naturally-formed white marble arch. Or, zipline through the tree canopy with Zoar Outdoor in Charlemont, west of Shelburne Falls. North of Boston, go out to Cape Ann and take a boat tour from Gloucester or Essex.
In the beautiful White Mountains Region, you can stand on the top of New England: the summit of Mount Washington. Get there on the Auto Road or on the historic Cog Railway. Want to climb an easy mountain? Near Jaffrey, Mount Monadnock is the “most climbed mountain in North America,” with great views from the top. In the Lakes Region, take a cruise on the M/S Mount Washington. With mountains as a backdrop, the foliage seems to wrap around Lake Winnipesaukee.
Up in northern New Hampshire, Dixville Notch is home to the Balsams Grand Resort — one of New Hampshire’s four grand historic hotels and the home of the Ballot Room where the residents of Dixville Notch are the First in the Nation to vote for the US presidential elections. This area is covered with endless, unspoiled scenery, exceptional hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, and golf.
The USA’s smallest state is making a name for itself as a producer of wine. And, when better to visit the vineyards than at harvest time? With lunch and a tasting, this is a great day out. But, across the state, Rhode Island farms are celebrating their bounty; stop at farm stands, pick-your-own and join in the harvest festivals. Or, go back in time, to the start of America’s industrial revolution. At Slater Mill, Samuel Slater built North America’s first successful water-powered, cotton spinning mill on the banks of the Blackstone River. Tour this historic area by boat and see the fall color on the Blackstone Valley Explorer.
For birds-eye views of the foliage, head for Bennington. At the Battle Monument, you can scan the landscape from the top, over 300 ft (91m) above the ground. And, you don’t have to climb any stairs; just take the elevator! Or, drive up the very steep Skyline Drive to the top of Mount Equinox, south of Manchester. On a clear day, you can see across New England, into New York State and even into Canada. Burlington makes a great base for seeing the foliage: take a Lake Champlain cruise, or go up in a hot-air balloon!
Fall is very busy in the mountainous regions with the influx of “leaf peepers” from the New England area, around the United States and the world. In these extremely popular areas, you’ll want to make lodging reservations at least several weeks ahead, especially during the weekend days. Columbus Day weekend (Oct 8-10, 2011) is another time in which advanced booking is advised throughout the region.
Coastal Scenery in Autumn
Fall is also an excellent time to see the New England coastline area – weather is often still warm and beautiful, and the summer crowds are gone. It’s a perfect time to walk the beaches, explore antique shops, specialty boutiques, and get the best table on those dockside patios. You’ll find beautiful fall colors here too, even along the roadways.
For more on New England in the Fall: