Leaf peepers flock to New England each year for nature’s display of brightly colored trees. The brilliance of fall in New England is legendary. Scarlet and sugar maples, ash, birch, beech, dogwood, tulip tree, oak, and sassafras all contribute to the carnival of autumn color. The show is magnificent – and free!
Here are some suggestions for the best spots around New England to view this glorious show:
has the highest percentage of maple trees in New England, with mountains awash in vibrant orange and yellow. The autumn colors generally peak during the second week of October. Take the Green Mountain Byway (Vermont Route 100) through the funky small towns of Stowe and Waterbury, past farms and mountains before connecting to scenic Route 125, or the Middlebury Gap Road, through Green Mountain National Forest. Check out the scenery from above on a hot-air balloon ride in Stowe.
Unbuckle your seat belts and step away from the car. You are not just peeping at leaves today, you are swooping past them on zip lines that drop 1000ft at 30mph. The four-season Bretton Woods Canopy Tour (brettonwoods.com; US 302; per person $110; tours 10 am & 2 pm) includes a hike through the woods, a stroll over sky bridges and a swoosh down 10 cables to tree platforms.
Follow the Mohawk Trail through the Berkshires and marvel at the brightly colored fall leaves and artsy small towns. Starting in Williamstown, take the trail (Route 2) east through North Adams. In Charlemont, take a short, picturesque detour on Route 8A to cross the 160-foot-long Bissell Covered Bridge.
When fall foliage season arrives in Massachusetts, the Berkshires are the best place to appreciate this autumnal grandeur. Winding road shires lined with the drama of trees ablaze pass alongside meadows, pasture, farmland, mountains, rivers, and lakes.
The artsy town of North Adams alights with fall fever each year during the Fall Foliage Festival in early October, a celebration of the leaves with a parade and family fun. While driving along the Mohawk Trail, stop at scenic vantage points for photos before continuing on to historic Greenfield to check out the foliage from the 3-story lookout at Poet’s Seat Tower.
Start in Portland and head north on “Old Route 1” for one of New England’s most scenic coastal drives. Stop along the way in Brunswick, Bath, or Rockport (you can’t go wrong with any) for seaside mansions, lighthouses, and late-season lobster rolls; hit up Freeport for the L.L. Bean flagship. End in the quaint town of Camden, whose prime leaf-peeping vehicles include Merryspring, a 66-acre park and nature center, and autumn sails on the Schooner Surprise. The dazzling fall colors that cover the rolling hills are reflected in Penobscot Bay on the east side, and in the lakes on the west. Ascend the peaks for views out to the color-splashed islands in the bay. Autumn usually comes a week or so later on the coast, so you can stretch out your viewing pleasure.
The White Mountains can’t be beaten for dramatic fall scenery, and the quintessential New England village of Jackson is convenient to everything including the famed Kancamagus Highway, yet it’s tucked enough away to feel like a romantic retreat. Once you cross Honeymoon Bridge—the red-painted covered bridge at the entrance to the village—you’ll feel in a little world all your own. Jackson’s at its most charming in October, when it is invaded each year by Pumpkin People.
Don’t forget to bring your camera!