Each year, visitors from around the world flock to New England for a glimpse of the blazing fall foliage. With mountains, rivers, and forests, there are numerous ways to witness the beauty and splendor of this scenic countryside. Peak color ranges from late September to mid-October. To maximize your experience, remember that the leaves follow a pattern as they change, starting north and moving south from high elevations to low.
Looking for great spots to enjoy the season? Here are a few of our suggestions for memorable trips!
Scenic Fall Drives
Although there are countless routes you could take, here are a few highly recommended road trips through different sections of the East Coast.
Start your trip in Portland, a city where arts and adventure are one and the same. Explore the Old Port or take a tour of Allagash Brewery before hitting the road for a tour through New England’s best fall foliage. Route 302 stretches from the city to the countryside, passing by forests, rivers, and hills. Take a picnic lunch near Naples at Sebago Lake State Park, where you can stroll along the sandy beaches of Maine’s deepest lake. Or try a short detour to Gray to visit the Maine Wildlife Park, a haven for orphaned and injured wildlife including moose, mountain lions, black bears, and more.
Follow Route 302 until you reach the small town of Fryeburg, which sits on the border of Maine and New Hampshire. Just in time for peak fall colors, the Fryeburg Fair runs during the first week of October. Stop by and enjoy rides, prize-winning animals, and classic fair food!
Explore Cape Cod as it’s colored for the season! Route 6A, also known as Old King’s Highway, travels through quaint coastal villages that boast a stunning array of fall foliage. Begin your drive in Sandwich, the oldest town on Cape Cod and home to the Heritage Museums & Gardens. As you traverse this scenic route, you’ll pass through America’s first villages, which are filled with historic buildings and landmarks. Pop into the charming shops and galleries, or head to any of the beautiful beaches. No matter how you choose to spend your day, you can finish it in lively Orleans, where Route 6A ends, or head further up the Cape on nearby Route 6!
Sometimes it’s best to experience fall on your own two feet. Enjoy these scenic hikes that promise to pack color, adventure, and rejuvenation.
Close to the borders of Maine and New York, Mohawk Trail State Park is home to old-growth forests that light up with fall color. Mountain ridges soar above deep gorges, creating an immersive wilderness experience for all to enjoy. You can hike through the lush landscape on the Mahican-Mohawk Trail, a path built along an ancient Native American route. This stunning track winds through forests and meadows, passing by cool alpine streams as it gradually ascends Todd Mountain.
Trails go in every direction at Bigelow Hollow State Park, conveniently located between Boston and Hartford. With plenty of options, you can create your own adventure, though if you’re looking for a partial loop trail with incredible fall colors, check out Nipmuck Trail. From the park entrance you can head toward Breakneck Pond and follow the trail as it hugs the wooded, rocky shore. Loop around the lake and return to your car on the same trail you started on for a brisk 7-mile trip.
New England is crisscrossed with countless rivers and streams that are perfect for canoeing or kayaking. Enjoy the wonder of the outdoors and be one with nature as you traverse through the maze of waterways.
The perfect complement to your Route 302 road trip, Saco River Canoe & Kayak is located in Fryeburg, next to the beautiful Saco River. Kayak, canoe, and tube trips are available in a range of lengths, from one-hour trips to twelve-hour treks! The gentle current makes this a family-friendly way to experience the fall foliage on the banks of the river.
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