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Sunset view over beautiful fall foliage

Leaf Peeping

The Best Show Around

While we would never deny spring’s seasonal beauty, summer’s time in the sun, or winter’s snowy delights, autumn might be the best time to experience New England. Every fall, the hills, valleys, and coastlines explode into a kingdom of gold, scarlet, and bright orange foliage as the leaves of the region’s deciduous trees begin to turn color and slowly drop. 

Fall foliage with a path through the middle of the trails
Trapp Family Lodge


Only certain species of deciduous (otherwise known as “hardwood) trees put on a foliage show. The most colorful leaves generally belong to the many species of maple tree, but plenty of other trees contribute to the rainbow, including ash, birch, and oak. Meanwhile, coniferous (aka “evergreen”) trees such as spruce and fir retain their verdant green needles all winter long. 

Follow the foliage trail 

Beautiful sunset image over a golf course with fall foliage
Owl's Nest Resort

Timing is Everything

Come fall, there’s only one question on everyone’s mind: When is peak foliage? The answer is… it depends. There are numerous factors at play, including temperature, rainfall, and geography: Generally, the colors come to Northern New England sometime in late September, and often peak in early October. Southern New England is usually about a week or two behind. Fortunately, there’s enough regional variation that even if it seems as if you’ve missed peak foliage, a short drive will deliver you to the goods. Yankee Magazine’s annual fall foliage map offers a real-time guide to best foliage in the region. 

What goes best with fall foliage? Local cuisine, of course. 

Green be Gone

The brilliant colors of fall foliage are actually present in leaves throughout the summer months. It’s only when fall arrives and the green chlorophyll fades that those hidden colors get their 15 minutes of fame. 

US Forest Service Sign at the top of Kancamagus Highway
White Mountain Attractions Association

Pick Your Spot

While it’s true that the fall foliage is spectacular throughout the region, there are a few standout spots that deserve a little extra attention. New Hampshire’s  Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5-mile scenic drive winding through the White Mountain National Forest, and offers some of the best foliage viewing anywhere. Further south. Connecticut’s Route 9 is a foliage treasure trove, as is the 63-mile Mohawk Trail in northwest Massachusetts. And you definitely don’t want to miss Vermont’s Route 100. 

Still haven’t got your fill of foliage? Head to the mountains

Hiker looking over a scenic hillside of fall foliage
White Mountain Attractions Association

Three Easy Foliage Hikes

You don’t have to be an avid hiker to find exquisite views by foot. For instance, Connecticut’s Haystack Mountain dishes up panoramic views from the height of its modest two-mile loop trail. Over in Lincoln, New Hampshire, the Lincoln Woods Trail is a 2.9 mile, mostly flat trail that shows off the Pemigewasset River. With 980-feet of elevation gain, Vermont’s Snake Mountain is a bit more ambitious, but the views of the Champlain Valley and the Adirondacks in the distance are well worth the effort. 

Like to hike? You’re in the right place 

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