Great Fall Foliage Road Trips in the Northeast

There is no better way to witness the famous fiery fall display of foliage, than with a road trip through the Northeast. So what’s the best time to go on the road? The leaves usually begin to change color first in northern parts of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire in mid to late September. In these cases, the vibrancy of leaf colors usually peaks in mid-October. In the lower northeastern part, foliage changes later and can last until November.

When planning your road trip, it’s a good idea to check the foliage map reports of the states you’ll be driving through so you can plan accordingly. These reports will give you up-to-date information about color, areas that peak in times, how quickly the leaves are changing and recommendations for the best ‘leaf peek’. These reports change quite a bit over the years as things like the environment and weather will affect the colors of the foliage as well as how quickly it rotates.

Here are some great ideas for the perfect foliage wilderness trip in the Northeast, from northern Maine to southern Pennsylvania. Their timelines estimate when the foliage peak is likely to reach each destination, but in the end it’s up to Mother Nature.


The last week of September

Follow the leaves: Northern parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine
Fantastic engine: Acadia Ports and Heights

This tour begins in Bangor and takes you through Ellsworth to picturesque Mount Desert Island. From there you’ll head to beautiful Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, where from the top of Cadillac Mountain you can be the first to see the sunrise in the northeast. The lighthouse in Bass Harbor is another highlight of the trip, as are the fishing villages of Deer Isle and Stonington.

The first week in October

Follow the leaves: northern New York, northeastern and central Maine, central and southern Vermont and New Hampshire, northern Pennsylvania and western Massachusetts.
Fantastic engine: SoVT Loop (South Vermont)

This trip begins in Manchester, Vermont, home of the Southern Vermont Center for the Arts, and continues to South Shaftsbury, where you can explore the Robert Frost Stone House Museum. Later on the 104-mile loop, you’ll pass through Old Bennington with its historic monuments, homes, and churches; There is also a lovely side trip to Somerset Reservoir, near Searsburg.


mid october

Follow the leaves: The south and central coast of Maine, central and eastern Massachusetts, northwest Connecticut, New York’s Catskill region, central Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey and southern Rhode Island.
Fantastic engine: Upper Delaware Scenic Byway

The 70-mile Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, also known as New York Route 97, is located along the Delaware River from Hancock to Port Jervis in southern New York. Stunning river vistas abound throughout the drive, but it’s worth a stop at Elks Bronx Memorial Park in Port Jervis for hiking trails and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and river valleys. Towns along the route offer a variety of art galleries, antique shops, historical museums, and other attractions.

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