A collection of easy to moderate late fall hikes in New England that are worth the trek even after the foliage fades.
By Cathryn McCann
Oct 18 2022
Late Fall Hikes in New EnglandPhoto Credit : Cathryn McCann
If the colder weather has you feeling like hunkering down with ten blankets and a warm drink, remember that there is still time before a canvas of snow inevitably covers the ground to get out and enjoy some refreshing fall air. Peak foliage season is behind us, but nothing beats the sound of crisp, recently-fallen leaves beneath your feet as you trek up to a beautiful New England view. Here are some ideas for great late fall hikes in each New England state.
Many of the trails listed below are accessible year-round but do check prior to your trip to ensure the trail is still accessible. And as always, remember to take necessary safety precautions. Don’t plan a trip in bad weather, and dress accordingly to the temperature. Your footwear should have good tread – the trail terrain may not be as smooth or predictable as during the summer. Begin your hike earlier in the day, and keep in mind it can rapidly get dark and cold late in the day. Remember to pack food, water, first aid supplies, and flashlights as necessary, and read trail descriptions beforehand. Planning ahead always makes for a more enjoyable trip!
Located in Hamden, Connecticut, this trail starts at the picnic area across from Quinnipiac University and is a 1.6-mile hike one way to the summit of Mount Carmel, where you will find a beautiful stone observation tower that offers fantastic views of Long Island Sound and New Haven. A unique feature of this trail is the stone path, so plan your footwear accordingly. The trail is a part of Sleeping Giant State Park, named for the two miles of mountaintop that some say resemble just that – a sleeping giant.
Don’t be deterred by the ominous reptilian name! Rattlesnake Mountain is a moderate 2.4-mile out-and-back hike located in Raymond, Maine, and offers a great view overlooking Panther Pond just ½ mile into the hike. Although steep in some places, the mountain is dog-friendly and appropriate for a family hike. Only 45 minutes from Portland, make a day trip of it and head into the city for lunch or a warm beverage after your jaunt up the mountain. For ideas, check out some of our picks for places to eat in Portland.
This state park tucked away (no pun intended) in Nottingham, New Hampshire is a beautiful 5,500-acre preserve, including a popular lake, 195 campsites, and about 15 miles of hiking trails. An easy to moderate 2.4-mile hike to the fire tower on top of South Mountain offers great views of the surrounding area, or you could opt for an easy 1-mile meander along Fundy Trail, which borders Burnham’s Marsh and is known for wildlife spottings. Perhaps more well-known to climbers, Boulder Field Trail is 2.6 miles round trip with only a 200-foot elevation gain, and leads to – aptly – many large boulders, deposited there during the end of the Ice Age.
This moderate 2.8-mile loop trail is a natural oasis with great views. Located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, it is a popular trail during the warmer weather months, so a trip during the fall is often a great escape from the typical traffic. Some areas of the trail are steep, but a few scrambles afford you a wonderful view of the Housatonic River Valley and the southern Berkshires at the summit. Check out these ideas to make it a weekend in the Berkshires.
This moderate trail near Jeffersonville, Vermont is about 2.5 miles out and back, and can be found off Route 108. Park at the top of the Smuggler’s Notch in the parking area on the right-hand side. Although steep and rocky in some portions, the trail is well maintained and leads to stunning views (and Vermont’s highest-elevation trout pond, to boot). Sterling Pond has been described as “idyllic” and is a great escape during the quieter fall months. Sans snow, an additional half-hour can afford you a trip to Spruce Peak, by way of Stowe Resort’s ski trails. From there you will find views of the Notch, Stowe Valley, and Mount Mansfield.
This easy 2.4-mile loop is located near Saunderstown, Rhode Island, and is a good option for hikers and walkers of all skill levels. The trail starts inland and leads out to views of the bay, and the constant scenery change makes for an exciting, quick trip. As a result, this trail – also known as the “seal hike” for its view of seals in the bay – is very popular during the summer months, so beat the crowds and make plans to go in the fall. Be aware, however, that the wind can pick up as you walk near the water.
Which late fall hikes in New England are your favorites?
This post was first published in 2016 and has been updated.