Happy fall! Now that it’s late September, the leaves have officially begun to change. Autumn is here in New England. Although it’s been fall for me since September 1 (that’s when I got my first PSL and decorated my room haha). I’m so excited to be home in the Boston area for this season. For the past four years I’ve been away at college during the fall and haven’t really had the chance to do any of the classic activities since high school. I recently spent some time up north in New Hampshire “leaf peeping” and hiking, and was motivated to write this post to share some of this inspiration with you all. This post will be added to as I travel more this fall, but here’s my list of the best places to go leaf peeping in New England.
Disclaimer: This post was originally written in September 2020 and was updated in January 2022 for relevancy.
Dixville Notch State Park, New Hampshire
Located in Colebrook, New Hampshire about four hours north of Boston, Dixville Notch State Park is a fall must. Since this place is located so far north, the leaves here have already begun to peak so get up there soon! The scenery is incredible. And the drive up isn’t too bad either. You basically take route 3 north the entire way – one of the most scenic drives in New Hampshire (it goes right through Franconia Notch).
Once in this area I recommend checking out the quaint town of Colebrook. My boyfriend and I recently stayed at my grandfather’s cabin here for the weekend and had the best time! Thanks Popsie!
I also recommend hiking Table Rock. This hike is about 1.5-2 miles round trip, but is very steep. The hike down is a breeze, but the way up is hard on the legs! We had to stop several times to catch our breath, but the view made it all worth it. Table Rock is a giant slab of granite that sticks out over a ravine overlooking the Balsams Resort. It’s pretty epic. But, be careful not to get too close…there’s a 700 foot vertical drop!
Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire
If you live in the United States (or anywhere really) you need to plan a trip to Franconia ASAP. Located on route 3 in central New Hampshire, Franconia Notch State Park is the perfect destination for year-round activities. Some friends and I went camping here a few years ago and stayed at Lafayette Place Campground. I recommend this spot if you’re looking to camp in the area.
In terms of attractions, the number one thing to see here is definitely the Flume Gorge. There’s a short loop that you can do, but it’s currently closed, so if you’re looking to come here soon, you can only do the full two mile loop. BUT. Be warned! You NEED reservations to do this hike! We didn’t know this and had to rework our plans, so make sure you buy tickets online and in advance. You can’t buy them there.
The two-mile loop will bring you to several attractions including the flume itself, a few waterfalls, and two covered bridges. It’s amazing for leaf peeping in New England!
I also recommend seeing The Basin, a natural whirlpool, and doing the Baby Flume hike, which is located right next to it. You can also do a three mile round-trip hike to Lonesome Lake to get some good views of Franconia Notch. That’s the best way to see the leaves in this area – get on the trails!
There’s also nearby Cannon Mountain, one of the most photographed locations in the area during this time of year!
Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
The Kancamagus Highway, also known as Route 112 in New Hampshire, is another fall must. This highway runs laterally across central New Hampshire from the Lincoln area to Conway. It’s known as one of the best places to go leaf peeping in New England and the world!
I got on the highway near Loon Mountain and rode it for about 20-30 minutes towards Conway. I didn’t drive the whole way because it takes 50 minutes, but I saw so much in just the 1/3 I did!
First, there’s several overlooks on this road. The perfect way to go leaf peeping if hiking isn’t your thing. Closer to the Lincoln, NH end of the highway, I recommend stopping at Otter Rocks and the Lincoln Woods Trail. Otter Rocks is a fun portion of the river to hangout in. The foliage here was really good and there were plenty of rocks and fallen trees to explore.
Lincoln Woods Trail is a 10-mile hike, however, the parking lot of the trail head offers some of the best views. Here you’ll find a scenic suspension bridge with tons of colorful foliage as the perfect backdrop. I spent a lot of time here walking across the two bridges and just admiring the views. Stunning!
It’s common to spend a winter weekend in Stowe, but I think fall is the perfect time to visit. My friend Chelsea and I recently took a day trip to Stowe and had a fall-filled day! I recommend stopping at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Stowe on your way into town. Chelsea and I also stopped at the Von Trapp Family Lodge, which was STUNNING! This hotel is owned by the Sound of Music family, and the grounds here are incredible. I definitely want to come back here and stay, so maybe consider a night here if you’re in the area.
If you’re looking for a classic overlook in Stowe, I recommend stopping in the Salon Salon parking lot. Check out the photos below of a picture-perfect fall view! Chelsea and I also swung by the Ben & Jerry’s factory, a Waterbury-must before making our way to Woodstock, VT.
Woodstock is the most picturesque Vermont town. As mentioned in my New England bucket list, here you’ll find the stunning Quechee Gorge and the charming downtown. This spot is about 2 hours northwest of Boston. If you need a place to stay I recommend the historical Woodstock Inn. It’s a little pricey, but it’s the perfect spot for a fall getaway.
Aside from the gorge and town, be sure to check out Billings Farm for Vermont cheese tastings and animals. There’s also several hiking trails in the area. Nearby the farm on Cloudland Road, you’ll find Sleepy Hollow Farm, the most photographed farm in Vermont! Grab your camera and check out the view here – it’s a photographer’s dream.
Also, Woodstock is known for its covered bridges! Pictured below is one of many in the town. This one is right near the town green.
Check out Northampton and the Berkshires in Massachusetts during the fall! This region of Massachusetts has some of the best leaf peeping in New England and many hiking trails. Northampton is home to UMass Amherst, a charming downtown, and some great fall foliage!
Adirondack Mountains, New York
I recently traveled to the Adirondack Mountains with my coworkers for a 3-day work/hiking trip! It was my first time meeting my team since we’ve been remote. We all met up in Saratoga Springs (where the horse races are held!), and drove up to the High Peaks region in the Adirondacks. We stayed in Keene, NY which is a perfect base for hiking and fall exploration. Although this place doesn’t technically count as leaf peeping in New England, it’s nearby and stunning, so I added it!
We got dinner in Lake Placid and explored the quaint town of Lake Saranac. We did two hikes during our trip together – one short but very steep hike up Noonmark Mountain and a second, much longer hike up Indian Head. I’ve seen photos of Indian Head for years and have always wanted to go! The hike was 11 miles round trip, but was so worth it for the epic views we saw! I couldn’t recommend a visit to this region more. Check out this post if you’re looking for a list of easy hikes in the Adirondacks.
We stopped in Albany on the way home for dinner. If we had more time, I would’ve liked to hangout in the Lake George area too, but regardless, add the Adirondacks to your fall bucket list ASAP!
I hope you are feeling inspired to plan your next fall adventure and leaf peep! Luckily for us New Englanders, the leaves are incredible pretty much everywhere, especially towards the end of October when they’ve peaked all over. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but just some of the most famous spots in the world to see the leaves.
PS. If you’re looking for some more New England inspiration, including over 50+ day trip ideas, check out my Ultimate New England bucket list!
Like this post? Pin it to save it for later and share with others!