Every fall, New England rolls out a foliage carpet dressed in blazing oranges and reds, yellows and purples. It’s the perfect time to visit the region. Early October is prime leaf-peeping time for the northern states, while the southern half’s season stretches into late October and even early November. Leaf peepers come to drive the winding country roads, hike lush mountain paths and stroll town greens to soak in the vibrant vistas of color. If you’re planning a trip to the region, here are the most stunning places to see fall foliage state-by-state.
As the northernmost state in New England, Maine fall foliage peaks in early October. Inland, dazzling hues of yellow, orange and red blanket the mountains of Western Maine, especially in and around Rangeley Lakes. Winding routes pass lakeside parks, waterfalls and spectacular overlooks. White Mountain National Forest and Sebago Lake State Park are especially brilliant.
Down east along the coast, Acadia National Park provides a stunning array of colors, set against coastal waters dotted with lighthouses and wildlife. In Camden, Penobscot Bay on the east side and the lakes on the west side reflect the stunning fall colors carpeting the rolling hills. Head to the peaks to see the rich patina of autumn shades on the islands in the bay.
New Hampshire is postcard-pretty this time of year. Quaint villages with town greens ringed with fall colors dot the routes of southwestern New Hampshire, where Mt. Monadnock hosts an astonishing array of reds, yellows and oranges on its sides and summit.
In the White Mountains, Route 302 passes through Crawford Notch, a scenic valley of red maples and yellow birches. Also here is Kancamagus Highway, a National Scenic Byway which runs east-west through the White Mountains, a favorite fall foliage passage.
Apart from its maple syrup and cheese, the Green Mountain State is known for its spectacular fall foliage. Vermont is the most rural state in the region, with some 80 percent of it covered with dense forests, turning the state into a leaf peepers delight in the fall. A wide range of colors, from dark reds and yellows to russets, explode throughout the state.
Drive I-91 from Brattleboro to Newport for a colorful canvas that takes you through the Connecticut River Valley and hillsides of the Northeast Kingdom. Another scenic stretch is Route 100, which winds through the entire state, past the vibrant canvas of color that is the Green Mountains as well as farms and villages.
Leaf peepers head straight to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts for the best and most stellar fall color displays in the state. Winding roads weave throughout the region, passing colorful meadows, farms, rivers, lakes and mountain summits. In the southwest corner of the state, Bash Bish Falls State Park offers a three-state view of gold and crimson blankets from a promontory.
Head farther east to the Connecticut River Valley, where colorful vistas unfold, especially in the area around the Quabbin Reservoir. Closer to Boston is the Walden Pond State Reservation and Mount Auburn Cemetery, both of which have thousands of trees that shimmer with a stunning autumnal palette.
Enjoy the surrounding countryside and seasonal apple cider on a Fall Foliage Sightseeing Tour from Boston.
Rhode Island may be small, but for leaf peepers the state offers plenty of dramatic spots to see fall colors. Mid-October is the peak in the rural northern and western areas of the state, and early-November is the best time for color along the coast. The best country spots to see the autumn extravaganza are Blackstone Valley and South County, where you’ll pass through dense forests, hamlets and pumpkin patches. For urban strollers, Providence and Newport both offer plenty of color alongside rivers and in parks.
A little more than an hour from New York City, Connecticut abounds with leaf-peeping opportunities. You can see a blazing array of reds, yellows and oranges throughout October and even into November. One of the best places is the Litchfield Hills. Route 7 runs through this rolling countryside, following the Housatonic River under a canopy of colors. Litchfield itself is a nice stop for lunch. Take a stroll along the town green or buy pumpkins along the roadside. Stop in New Preston to see the 40-foot waterfall on the Aspetuck River.
Route 169, a historic roadway and National Scenic Byway, takes you through more of autumn’s colorful riches, passing museums and historic structures along the way. Head to Lake Waramaug and Mount Tom for colorful vistas of striking beauty.
Traveling without a car? Check out some fall foliage tours in New England.
— Contributed by William Travis