Looking for the Best Fall Foliage in New England? Start Here. - Appalachian Mountain Club
Looking for the Best Fall Foliage in New England? Start Here. - Appalachian Mountain Club

Looking for the Best Fall Foliage in New England? Start Here.

September 25, 2017
Ron Reiring/FlickrFall foliage will soon be blazing in the Crawford Notch area of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Eye-popping colors have already arrived in far northern New England, a blaze of spectacular foliage that will steadily progress southward over the coming weeks. To help you get your quality leaf-peeping fix, here’s a round-up of some of the best resources and recommendations for getting out and enjoying the autumn show.

Where and when does peak foliage occur?

As a general rule, color peaks in far northern New England in late September, then steadily moves south over the next four weeks. Peak foliage typically reaches its broadest expanse in New England in early to mid-October, and lingers through the latter half of October in low-elevation, near-coastal regions across the region. (For a general overview of foliage timing, take a look at this excellent animation from Yankee Foliage, which offers one of the most comprehensive sources on the topic).

For the popular foliage destinations of New Hampshire and Vermont, the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development produces a useful interactive map of likely foliage conditions by date as well as regular foliage reports for the state. For the Green Mountain State, Foliage Vermont offers a substantial collection of foliage updates, resources, and photos, including some awesome 360-degree aerial shots and videos.

For the latest conditions across the Northeast, from New Jersey to Maine, The Foliage Network produces foliage updates twice a week for the entire region, including broad overview maps of the current foliage situation.

Watch the weather

To score the leaves of your dreams, you should also pay close attention to the weather. For maximum colors, the best weather consists of long stretches of warm, sunny days and cool, but not freezing, nights. Keep a particular watch for early frosts, which halt the development of fall colors and can significantly reduce the brilliance of foliage in affected areas.

Also keep an eye out for stormy weather, which can send leaves flying, strip trees, and bring an abrupt end to peak foliage season. If you see inclement weather approaching during the height of color, make an effort to get out and leaf-peep before it strikes.

State-by-state updates

State-specific resources, including real-time updates of current foliage conditions, are available throughout the Northeast. Several states have adopted the use of Instagram photo streams in recent years, which can help provide daily insights of real-time conditions. From north to south, here are some of the best resources to watch.

Maine: Visit Maine’s Official Fall Foliage web site, where you can sign up to receive Maine updates by e-mail.

New Hampshire: Check out the New Hampshire foliage reports for the latest and follow #nhfoliage on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media.

Vermont: The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing provides regular (though hard to find) updates and also gives you the option of getting Vermont foliage updates by email. (Easier to find are the weekly Vermont.com foliage updates.)

Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism features its MA Instafoliage web site, which includes user-posted images from Instagram (#MAinstafoliage), along with recommended driving routes and live video feeds from across the state.

Connecticut: The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has a useful interactive map of estimated peak foliage, as well as regular and simple fall foliage reports.

Where should I go?

AMC offers a wealth of resources and recommendations for great foliage destinations, including these great tips:

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.