Every week during foliage season we’ll tell you where to find the best fall color.
By Yankee Staff
Sep 30 2022
Where to See Foliage This Weekend | Lincoln, Rhode IslandPhoto Credit : Mark D'Almeida
Few things in nature are more beautiful than New England in the fall. If you’re hoping to get out this year for some leaf peeping, we’re here to help, with our updated forecast predictions, a peak fall foliage map, and a slew of prime road trip routes. Wondering where to see peak fall foliage now? We’ve asked Jim Salge, our resident foliage expert, to collaborate with us on choosing a prime spot each weekend where you’re sure to find great color. We’ll be updating this page weekly, so bookmark it and check back often!
While nowhere in New England is at peak foliage yet (and our picks for Where to Find Early Fall Foliage in New England still apply), leaf peeping options in northern New England have significantly expanded since last weekend, as cool nights have kickstarted the colors in the mountains and far north. There were some rain showers midweek, but we’re now looking ahead toward warm sunny days and crisp nights through the weekend, perfect conditions to continue the acceleration of the wave of color south across the region. There will be areas approaching peak or at peak at higher elevations, and plenty more places with plenty of mixed and mottled reds and oranges.
The White Mountain notches are currently experiencing a variety of conditions. Some notches are turning quickly, while some are barely beginning to turn. Some have brighter colors south, and some have brighter colors north. Some areas are trending towards red, while others more orange and yellow. A couple areas are just really dry, with trees looking stressed and leaves looking crunchy. Brightest colors are on either end of Franconia Notch with mostly green in between. The greenest areas are in Bear Notch, while the driest areas are at the eastern end of Grafton Notch.
A similar patchwork of early conditions have appeared in Northern Vermont and Maine, but as the days progress, conditions should become more uniform and brighten overall. Northern New England is, in general, still looking at a bright season that progresses on a normal timetable.
Further south, and especially closer to the coast, there is not an insignificant amount of early color emerging from stressed trees. Some of this is bright, but most of it is rusty oranges and yellows from the extreme dry weather of the summer. Red maples and birches especially are susceptible to drought, and are showing it strongly this year. Swamp maples are the bright spots of southern New England, where there was continuous water at least.
What to Do in Stowe
Stowe is a standard choice and easy choice for fall fun in Northern Vermont, and it’s perhaps a little early for peak colors in the town itself this weekend. But, it’s also central to so much stellar leaf peeping this weekend within an hour’s drive, and by visiting now you’ll be in before the big crowds descend on the three day weekend!
Start the day with breakfast at some aptly named establishments, like The Bagel, or The Skinny Pancake, before hitting the road to see the leaves! The can’t-miss drive is Rt. 108 through Smugglers Notch, a winding narrow road through boulder fields and near peak colors. The tunnel view at the beginning of the notch over the road is one of the most iconic places to photograph in the region. This road is sometimes closed down due to snow and ice by the three day weekend, so it’s just another reason to head there earlier in the season!
Hikers will find a range of hikes, from the easy walk to Moss Glen Falls, to moderate Mount Hunger to the challenging climb to Stowe Pinnacle. You can also drive right to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, via the 4.5 mile Auto Toll Road.
For those looking to range a bit farther, the towns of the Northeast Kingdom, Lake Willoughby, Newport, and Jay are all great areas to go leaf peeping and find near peak conditions this weekend, and are about an hour drive from Stowe. Burlington is also nearby, but the color there will take more time to develop. Or the classic Route 100, which runs the length of Vermont from south to north is easy to hop on and explore, as an always popular leaf peeping route.
On the way back, be sure to stop by the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for autumn tasty treats and a fantastic fall atmosphere, or Ben and Jerry’s, just because! There are also so many great breweries in Northern Vermont, with The Alchemist and Stowe Cider nearby, or even Hill Farmstead for those ranging in that direction.
Lodging options abound near Stowe, with full resorts like Smugglers Notch and Topnotch Resort, to lodges like the nearby Trapp Family Lodge, to country inns like the Green Mountain Inn.
Before we start, rest assured that nowhere in New England is at peak fall color. High elevations, the far north, and red maple wetlands across the region will all be exhibiting some color, but the earliest “peak” color is still to come. If you do get out, now is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with our picks for Where to Find Early Fall Foliage in New England.
The weather has been all over the place in the far north this week, with temperatures dipping near the freezing mark before rocketing up to way above average. Then, the area received heavy rains, including some areas of flooding. And this weekend we’ll be back down in the thirties again. This is the type of battleground that we envisioned when we looked at the long-term predictions in our first forecast in August. It’s a scenario that will pay off with great color across northern New England…just not yet.
Until then, all there is to do is enjoy the fields of goldenrod and aster, misty lakes and rivers, and bright blue skies of autumn. And there are few better places in the whole world to enjoy this early fall weather than Pittsburg, New Hampshire.
What to Do in Pittsburg
At the far northern tip of the Great North Woods along the Canadian border is Pittsburg, a small New Hampshire town surrounded by rolling hills, big lakes, swift rivers, and beautiful forests. It’s a paradise for fans of outdoor pursuits, as it offers some of the best fishing, kayaking, and ATV riding in the state. The vast surrounding forests are snaked with forest roads, a vast multi-use trail system in Ride the Wilds, and many hiking trails, including the scenic Cohos Trail.
Start the day at Green Acres Country Store for homemade cinnamon buns and breakfast sandwiches before heading to the shores of the Connecticut Lakes to listen to the loons as the fog burns off. Lopstick Cabins on the shores of the First Lake has boats for rent and guided fly fishing tours, or you can spend the day driving to some of the more secluded paddling spots like Scott Bog and East Inlet in search of elusive boreal birds or embark on a hike up to the Magalloway Fire Tower. You could even rent an ATV at Bear Rock Adventures and zip up to Diamond Ridge for the sunset!
End your day at Murphy’s Steakhouse or the Rainbow Grille, both of which have lodging on-premise. For camping, try Ramblewood Campground where you’ll hear the loons all night. Then, get up and do it all over again, with more fall color arriving every day.
Other Spots to Leaf Peep:
These New England destinations offer a terrific way to kick off a weekend of autumn fun.
Use these driving directions to find the best laid-back foliage drives in our region.
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