|Greetings! If you've found this page, then you must be planning
to do a Fall Foliage trip or tour in New England - truly one of the most
colorful parts of the USA during the fall season. Not only will you
find gorgeous leaf color, but also quaint inns, romantic hideaways, fabulous
food, plus scenic highways and country roads.
Where to go? What to see? And mostly importantly, WHEN to go? Easier asked than answered, but I'll give it my best try.
Before you start planning, familiarize yourself with a map of the Northeast, including eastern New York state (where the gorgeous 6 million acre Adirondack Park is located) - all these areas are prime leaf peeping areas, depending on the weather and date of your travel.
Next, decide where you want to go. If you have a whole week, you can cover a lot of distance and states. If you only have a long weekend, then choose one area in Maine, or Vermont, or the Adirondack Park in upstate New York.
|Coastal Maine is like no other
part of the Northeast and is best visited from the last week of September
through the first week of October or Columbus Day weekend (after which
many of the hotels and businesses close for the winter!) Best airports
for access are Bangor (near Bar Harbor), Portland Maine, and Manchester
New Hampshire. Boston is another option. Driving time along
the Route 1 coast from Bar Harbor to Boston is around 5 hours, but we spent
three days puttering along with lots of stops in seaside towns, at lighthouses
New Hampshire has the White Mountain National Forest which is a nice place to pass through or overnight if you are driving from Maine to Vermont. Nearest airports are Manchester and Boston.
Vermont is the best known New England state with its covered bridges, quaint villages, mountains and hills. It has a LOT of Bed and Breakfast accommodations, inns, and lodges and plenty of artists of every sort and kind. Lots to do in Vermont, but keep in mind, the tiny two lane roads can get packed with tourists and slow caravans of cars & trucks. The best time to see fall foliage is the first two weeks of October since the northern section is the first to have color followed by the southern section turning a week or so later. Some visitors like to stay in the central part of the state for 3 or 4 days and go on day trips around the state finding the best color at the time. Nearest airports are Albany, Hartford, Burlington, or Manchester.
Western Massachusetts doesn't have the dramatic mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, but the hills can burst into bright foliage the middle two weeks of October. Nearest airport is Albany or Hartford. If you are heading to or from Boston, take Route 2 which can be quite gorgeous if the color is at peak.
Not considered part of "New England", eastern upstate New York is one of our favorite areas to visit during Fall Foliage. Why? The leaves are just as bright and the Adirondack Park can be just as pretty as many parts of Vermont - it is also LARGER than the state of Vermont. We call it the secret of the North East! The best time to visit is the first two weeks of October. Nearest airports are Albany and Burlington.
|When to go depends on what part of the Northeast you plan to visit
on what dates. Generally, the first two weeks of October are the
ideal time to see colors in New Hampshire, Vermont, or upstate New York.
The last week of September and first week of October might be the best time
for Maine. If you plan to arrive mid to late October, then Massachusetts,
Connecticut, and Rhode Island should be in full color.
Our own general guideline is sometime during the week before, including, and after Columbus Day weekend (usually October 8th to 12th varying by year). If we want to visit Maine, then we move our trip to the first part of October.
AND, most importantly, along the way we constantly log into FoliageNetwork.com to follow the leaves. Keep in mind that they vary from year to year depending on weather and conditions.
The map at the right is a general guideline for the time around Columbus Day weekend, however, in the examples below, you will see that it can vary greatly from year to year....
|... I have followed the leaf changes on FoliageNetwork.com
since 1999 and use it as a guideline to decide what our BEST CHANCES of
finding brightest color for our next trip.
Reservations for inns, B&Bs, and hotels are best made at least 6 months in advance, so it is important to plan your trip based on the area you plan to visit and the POSSIBLE leaf color at the time.
In the example at the left, I used 2004 and 2005 as examples of color - 2004 was a was a very early year and the leaves were already falling during our trip. On the other hand, 2005 was a very late year - we arrived as leaves were barely changing and they didn't come to Peak Color until the end of our trip.
Given the choice, ARRIVE EARLY during the first two weeks of October- better to see greens and yellows, than bare trees which may have dropped all their leaves by the last two weeks of October in the upper states.
As you can see, the last week of September has foliage changing in the
northern most regions. By the first week of October, there will be
some color somewhere.
Since it is easy to make day trips north or south from where you are staying, it is fairly easy to find nice color, so try to choose a central point for your accommodations.
Most of the scenic roads in the northeast are tiny two lanes which can
make for some slow, but very scenic driving. Major cities are connected
by large interstates or tollways and surprisingly, some of those can also
offer spectacular vistas and views.
Quite a few people think "Boston" as the airport
to use for fall foliage trips. If you plan to visit Boston for a
few days before or after your leaf peeping trip, then that will work.
However, be aware that arriving and departing Boston airport may be the
low point of your trip! We avoid it as much as possible. It
is a large, busy airport; checked luggage takes forever to arrive at the
carousel; the car rental places can only be reached by a long bus ride,
and the tunnels going to Boston proper are usually under construction,
redo, or overhaul with lots of confusing detours if you are headed into
the city. It took us 2 1/2 hours from touchdown to reach our Boston
hotel on our last trip. There's a far better way to arrive or depart
in the North East ...
* Hartford CT is a midsize airport with most all airlines
- it is 1 1/2 hours from Boston, 2 hours from southern Vermont, and 3 hours
from New York's Adirondack Park.