From the best time for peak color to the perfect foliage towns and road trips, our Massachusetts fall foliage guide will help you plan a great Bay State escape this autumn.
By Yankee Editors
Oct 04 2021
Foliage in Shelburne Falls, MassachusettsPhoto Credit : Brenda Darroch
Please note that businesses, attractions, and events throughout New England have modified their operations, closed, and/or been canceled in response to COVID-19. Please travel responsibly, and check with state guidelines and individual businesses and organizations before making travel plans.
Planning a trip to Massachusetts this year for some autumn color and fun? Our Massachusetts fall foliage guide is here to help. Learn the best time to see the leaves change, discover our favorite foliage towns and scenic routes, and read up on a few fantastic fall attractions.
While the timing is slightly different every year, Massachusetts sees its best fall color, moving from north to south, starting in mid-to-late September and extending through mid-October.
Some of our favorite regions in Massachusetts for enjoying fall color are the Upper Pioneer Valley during middle peak (end of September to mid-October) and Cape Ann, including the popular tourist town of Rockport, during late peak (mid-October to early November). That said, you’ll find fantastic pockets of color in every corner of the state throughout the season.
Learn more about finding peak color in New England in the 2018 Yankee feature “Peak Perfection.”
Located in the shadow of Massachusetts’s highest mountain — Mount Greylock, in nearby Adams — Williamstown may be the ultimate college town: Its mix of eclectic architecture and inviting green spaces can’t help but inspire lofty thoughts. While the drive up Mount Greylock affords dizzying views of the Berkshires and the Taconic Range, a favorite hike for Williams College students is the two-mile pitch up to Pine Cobble, a quartzite outcropping with a panoramic view of the so-called Purple Valley and church spires below.
Local poet Emily Dickinson knew how to appreciate the subtle beauty of nature, from a certain slant of light to the changing shades of a sugar maple. Now her family homestead is one of the many cultural attractions that come alive each fall when the students return to picturesque Amherst College. The highlight of the season is the annual Fall Foliage Walk, which goes from the town common, across the campus, to the tree-lined ridge of the Norwottuck Rail Trail.
Take an abandoned trolley bridge, plant it with blooming greenery, and voilà! You have an instant town icon and tourist attraction. But the Bridge of Flowers is just the beginning of the appeal of this stranded-in-time turnoff from the Mohawk Trail, now a haven for artisans, who sell their wares in studios near the falls on the Deerfield River.
The loveliest way to reach the Berkshires from the east is to drive the Mohawk Trail slowly, with the windows open, stopping for photos and drinking in the mountain views. Part of Route 2, from Orange to Williamstown, the Mohawk Trail is 65 miles or so of curves, climbs, drops, and one hold-your-breath hairpin turn above the Hoosic Valley that’s an attraction in its own right.
Following the Connecticut River through Western Massachusetts, this New England road trip feels like taking a journey back in time. Start in South Hadley, drive through Skinner State Park to the summit of Mount Holyoke for river views, browse for books and grab lunch at the Montague Bookmill, and get in a final scenic stroll in Turners Falls before winding up at the New Hampshire border.
Learn more about the Connecticut River Ride in the 2014 Yankee feature “Slow Foliage Drives Through Fall Color”and get even more New England foliage road trip ideas in our list of 14 Favorite Fall Drives in New England.
At 3,491 feet, Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts and has views that encompass five states. Located on a state reservation that borders several nearby towns, including Williamstown, Mount Greylock is heaven for hikers, but it also has an auto road with a parking lot at the summit.
Nothing says autumn like biting into a crisp apple, especially one you’ve just picked yourself. Massachusetts offers a number of excellent apple orchards, including Red Apple Farm in Phillipston and Clarkdale Fruit Farms in Deerfield. Russell Orchards in Ipswich is another popular choice for apple picking and warm apple cider doughnuts.
Looking for more fall fun? Discover our picks for the best pumpkin festivals in New England and the best corn mazes in New England.
What Massachusetts fall foliage picks would you add to the list? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2020 and has been updated.