Fall Foliage Road Trips
I once dreaded the end of summer freedoms and the ever-shortening days. But now I eagerly await the crisp weather and dazzling changes during fall foliage season. While leaf peeping is best done on foot -- the better to engage all of your senses -- you have to get there somehow, so here are some suggestions for fabulous fall foliage road trips throughout the US.
Top road trips in Maine include Route 17 from the coastal city of Rockland to the state capital of Augusta, and routes around Sebago Lake, northwest of Portland, and Baxter State Park, in north-central Maine.
In Vermont, try an 88-mile loop in the center of the state along Routes 100, 107, 12 and 106 through Gaysville, Barnard, Woodstock, Ludlow and Killington.
New York’s Hudson River Valley has been drawing leaf peepers since the advent of the United States. On the best days, you can see 5 states from the elevated panoramic view at the famous Point Lookout Inn on the Palisades Interstate Parkway.
Connecticut is laced with old timey country roads, including US Route 44 through Natchaug State Forest and State Route 154 through Old Saybrook.
Other northeastern highlights are New Hampshire’s White Mountains, including the town of Jackson; New York's Adirondack and Catskill mountains, and the Finger Lakes region; Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, Lancaster County and Laurel Highlands; and New Jersey’s Whitesbog Village, on Route 530.
Other mid-Atlantic highlights include Maryland’s Gambrill and Cunningham Falls state parks, Sideling Hill area on Interstate 68; and Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.
The Hocking Hills of southeast Ohio unfurl their colors on the western slope of the Appalachian Mountains.
In Wisconsin, the glacially carved Kettle Moraine State Forest, east of Madison, offers prime viewing -- and hiking along the Ice Age Trail -- in early fall.
Leaf peeping is serious business in many states, so expect crowds on peak weekends and, to the extent possible, plan ahead for lodging and dinner reservations -- or (even better) sneak away midweek to have more of the experience to yourself.
The US Forest Service offers regular updates on where and when to catch the best fall colors in 29 states. To make the most of your fall foliage road trip, slow down, stop frequently for photo ops and interact with the locals along the way.