BEFORE THE LEAVES BEGIN TO FALL
Fall Foliage Destinations in New England
For some, the changing colors of the leaves in the trees
signals a sad end to summer. But for millions, it signals
the start of the sweetest season of them all:
Fall foliage in New England
late summer until around November 1st, Mother Nature paints
her pictures in every shade in the spectrum, from the deepest
oil colors of the reds and purples to the delicate pastels
of the yellows and greens. Starting at the northernmost points
in New England, she slowly sweeps her brush across the landscape,
from the mountaintops to the city parks, from sea to rural
settings in the west.
Planning your fall foliage tour depends on the vacation dates
you have available. But anytime during this almost two month
period will provide plenty of "leaf peeping" if
you go to the right places. In other words, by mid-September
the leaves in Maine are approaching their peak while the trees
in Connecticut are just beginning to turn. Conversely, by
November first when western Connecticut is in full flower,
the trees in Maine will have already lost their leaves.
warmer and wetter the summer, the longer and later the season
will last. A cooler and/or dryer than normal summer will hasten
the process and put peak viewing times in a narrower shutter.
The best way to get an idea is to visit the individual state
websites for their predictions on the best time to see the
leaves. Also, most newspapers in New England keep a running
report during the season, noting the arrival of perfect scenery
throughout the region.
For those of you who like the comfort and convenience of
a guided tour, there are many bus tours (and even a train/bicycle
option) which keep right on top of the changes and can provide
optimum viewing from the comfort of the bus or from the frequent
stops at overlooks and to stroll out into the trees.
The do-it-yourself-ers can always plan out an auto tour which
leaves you free to linger in a particularly beautiful spot
or to push on if an area doesn't meet your expectations.
And of course, the more adventurous traveler will find that
walking, hiking and biking can provide you with opportunities
to see spectacular foliage which would otherwise not be accessible
from the main roads.
Coinciding with the coming of harvest time, the hotels and
inns, restaurants and farm stands will provide you with many
spectacular dining experiences all along your route.
Remember, New England fall foliage tours attract millions
of people from not only all over the country, but from all
over the world. It is not unusual to run into not only many
Europeans in autumn in the region, but people from even the
Far East! Do not be lulled into a sense that peak tourist
season is over and that accommodations will be plentiful.
Be sure to make reservations in plenty of time so as not to
miss out on some of the more spectacular scenes.
Here are some state-by-state tips for your fall foliage
For the first peek at the peak foliage season, Maine is your
destination. Starting in September, the leaves in the northwestern
area of the state have begun to turn. Starting up in the mountains
north of Baxter State Park, the leaves will rapidly reach
their peak in a long, southeasterly arc, sweeping steadily
down to the shoreline near the southern coastal resorts in
the Kennebunk/Ogunquit area. A 10 day trek across Maine at
this time will provide you with every setting in which to
view spectacular foliage, from the mountain tops through the
free-standing forests to the wooded areas directly to the
west of the Atlantic coast.
The state of Vermont is considered the center of New England's
fall foliage spectacular. Starting in the northern part of
the state up near Canada, St. Johnsbury hosts an annual Fall
Foliage Festival. Heading south, the Green Mountains and Smuggler's
Notch State Park are optimum for viewing. The ski resorts
are all perfect places from which to centralize a trip. There's
plenty of lodging and dining and other amenities not at their
peak demand and the season lasts longer than many others.
The White Mountains is the place to go. It is the most popular
foliage tour destination in New England, but they're also
plenty prepared. Simply driving the Kancamagus Highway from
Conway to North Woodstock will provide you with scores of
stunning opportunities. And the locals will be more than happy
to clue you in to scenes off the beaten path. For a quick
trip from New York or southern New England, the Mount Monadnock
State Park region is a cornucopia of delights within just
a few hours drive.
The Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts are easily
accessible from any starting point. These foothills of the
Adirondacks are one of the most popular destinations for the
"leaf peeper". In the heart of the state, the two
main roads, the Mass Turnpike and Route 2 provide dozens of
great opportunities while heading east to west or vice-versa.
There are many easily accessible areas right off the main
roads, but simply sticking to those main roads will provide
you with spectacular scenery without ever even leaving the
car! This is a really easy way to see the sights, especially
for the novice.
A trip around the border of this state will provide you with
multiple opportunities and can be accomplished in just a couple
of days. For a longer stay, the northwestern area of the state
is an optimum location for a more extended stay.
The beauty of fall foliage in "The Biggest Little State
in the Union" is that not only are the colors spectacular,
but also it has the longest and latest season. And being so
small it is possible to travel throughout the state on the
2 main roads heading east-west (Routes 101 and 6) or north-south
(Routes 95 and 102) and see all there is to see in just a
couple of days, while staying in one of southern Rhode Islands
seaside communities or enjoying luxury accommodations in the
greater Providence area.
Here's a checklist to help plan your fall foliage tour.
- Look for foliage festivals, harvest celebrations or other
autumn-oriented events. They are usually centered in a prime
foliage location and can provide many opportunities for
other kinds of recreation when you're ready for a break
or in the evenings.
- Book your rooms early. Autumn in New England is just
as busy in the fall as it is in high summer and during ski
season. You're competing with people from all over the world
- Try planning for weekday excursions. You can enjoy the
scenery in less-crowded conditions during the week and then
relax in the surroundings of your accommodations on the
weekend without fighting the crowds.
- Make sure to bring your camera! Just look at the amount
of award-winning photographs of fall foliage to give you
an idea of the number of memories you'll wish to preserve.
- Take advantage of the full array of possibilities. Whether
driving yourself or on a tour, make sure there will be opportunities
to head down the side roads and back roads and to explore
on foot or by bike. Many of the most spectacular scenes
are available only off the beaten path.