Its that special time of the year again; Fall. The season where our Instagram dreams come true and we work hard for that perfect shot at the pumpkin patch. Apple picking queens stretch high into the treacherous 5 foot tall trees for those delicious honey crisp apples. Make sure you bite into as many apples as possible for the perfect bite mark snap chat or Insta story. Ultimately, how could I forget those pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks accompanied by Ugg boots and a cozy sweat shirt? All sarcasm aside, I love everything about fall and I am not embarrassed to admit that I am one of the many whom visits the pumpkin patch with a pumpkin spice latte in hand. However, the same old fall routine of carving pumpkins with a scary movie playing in the background can become boring every year. The greatest way to enjoy fall is by exploring it. A road trip through New England during peak leaf season is nothing short of stunning, and should be on everyone’s autumn list of things to do. Browse on, and you will find the ultimate trip for your next fall adventure. Don’t worry, you can take your pumpkin spice lattes with you.
When and Where?
There are many destinations through out North America that display spectacular fall colors, but New England is perhaps the best. The three states of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are some of the first to see the colors turn and are conveniently bordered with one another. The peak time to hit these states up typically begins around October 1st and rides a wave of color until October 20th or so. You can find daily updates of the foliage through out the country on https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/ , but calling a local campsite or state park will give you the best timing.
Riding Through the Green Mountains in Vermont
A ride through the Green Mountain State forest from Bennington , Vermont to New Hampshire along Route 7 is a great starting point for the trip. A drive through these mountains will have you winding through a sea of red that seemingly makes the forest look as if it is on fire. Maple trees dominate the scene with their bright red colors and of course their syrup. Don’t forget to stop at a local farm during your excursion and pick up some pure Vermont maple syrup. After a taste test of five different maple syrups it proved to be the best.
Conway, New Hampshire
This small town in the Eastern part of New Hampshire is the gateway to the most stunning of fall foliage. Conway is a tiny town with heart warming people and has plenty of places to stay. If it isn’t too cold, camping is a great option.
Little White Church
Nearby Eaton is one of the smallest towns you will find, but its surroundings are ridiculously gorgeous. People visit this spot during foliage every year to take in the beautiful views of the Little White Church. The church sits perfectly between a patch of colorful trees across from the aptly named, Crystal Lake. Some colorful mountains sit in the background to display an incredible backdrop. This is the kind of image you will find on a postcard or calendar and is worth a short visit.
White Mountains New Hampshire
These Mountains may be named the White Mountains, but in the fall they are hardly that. There is a reason this destination tops most people’s lists of most beautiful places to visit during the season. You can spot hundreds of reds, yellows, oranges, greens and even some purples. It is a jaw dropping experience and one that may even bring some tears to your eyes. A picture will never do this place justice during the fall as the colors sparkle and dance in the sunlight.
The best way to experience the mountains is by hiking to a summit and peering down upon the countless colors. I can promise you, you have never seen anything as colorful as this.
(Kank-ah-mag-us) or better known by the locals as, “The Kanc”. This incredibly gorgeous highway takes you twisting and turning, up and down through the surrounding mountains and foliage. The famous highway has many places to stop and park to enjoy the views or go for a hike and picnic.
One of the more popular stretches of the highway is the hairpin curve. This turn takes you parallel with the other part of the road within seconds and is best appreciated from above.
Not only is it a fun piece of the road to drive, the foliage in this portion of the mountains is some of the best.
The fall season, especially around Columbus Day, attracts a lot of visitors and pull offs on the side of the road can quickly become overcrowded. It is best to ride through “The Kanc” in the morning for some peace and quiet, but it is gorgeous to visit anytime of the day.
Driving through Maine and Portland
After a nice stay in New Hampshire, Maine is next. A ride from Conway to any point in Maine will take you down some of the most scenic highways in the country. Thousands of acres of untouched land and forest are at your fingertips through out the entire state. Searching for moose is a fun experience, but expect to find many gorgeous views rather than a moose.
Visiting Portland is a must anytime of the year, but fall is the best. The chilly temperatures feel right in this gorgeous little port town in the Northeastern part of the United states. No visit to Portland is complete without taking in the views of the Portland Head Light at Cape Elizabeth.
This scenic highway of Maine takes you all the way from Portland to the Eastern and Northern borders of Maine and Canada. There are many towns to stop in for some lobster and maple syrup, but light house hunting is the thing to do here. Maine is known for its light houses as its coastline is comprised of 65 of them. An easy stop on your ride Northeast along Route 1 is at Pemaquid State Park and Light House. This light house was built in 1827 and is surrounded by some jagged rocks and pine trees.
Mt. Desert Island
Ahhhh, my favorite place on Earth. If you haven’t been here yet, it’s time to start planning. Mt. Desert Island is home to Acadia National Park and some of the most gorgeous scenery you will find in the United States, and in my opinion, the world. Visits in the spring and summer are incredible enough, but the colors of fall take this place to another level.
The largest town and cruise ship destination of Mt. Desert Island, Bar Harbor sits beautifully on the Northeastern part of the island. More pronounced by the locals as “Bahhh Hahhbahhh”, this town is lined with colorful trees and surrounded by mountains and sea. The fall season brings some chilly weather which makes it a perfect time to shop, eat and hit up the many cafes of Main St. The shops are filled from floor to ceiling with moose and lobster as well as all the hiking gear you need to explore Acadia.
Restaurants serve some of the best seafood, including cheap lobsters, and will warm you up with a bowl of “chowdaaaa”. The best restaurant in town is Galyn’s. The incredible appetizer menu and soups would be enough if it wasn’t for their fresh catch of the day and Fisherman’s Stew.
A chilly day is always best accompanied by a hot beverage. Have you ever tried a Maple Latte? After having a Maple Latte at the Coffee Hound Coffee Bar you will completely forget that a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks is even a thing. If it is a rainy day and you are tired of walking in the cold wet streets, a movie showing at the Reel Pizza Cinerama theatre is a very unique experience. This old theatre has couches as seating and serves many different kinds of pizza. Need to go to bathroom, but don’t want to miss the movie? There is a 10 minute intermission halfway through the viewing. Not something you often find in a movie theatre.
Also known as the quiet side of Acadia, this area is home to one of the prettiest views on the entire island. The Bass Harbor Lighthouse is unique from other light houses as it is very tiny in size and displays a red light. It is engulfed in pine trees and sits along some very jagged and large rocks. The eery sounds of buoys dancing in the ocean fill your ears during a visit. The best time to visit Bass Harbor Light is at sunset, but in recent years people have discovered how incredibly beautiful it is. More and more people visit the light house every evening which causes an army zone of people fighting for the best picture. Don’t you just hate Instagram?
Hiking in Acadia is at the top of the list of things to do on Mt. Desert Island. Hiking during the fall is of course accompanied by a wide array of colors. Although New Hampshire may have more vibrant colors, there are even more different colors in Acadia. Hiking along one of the many trails will give you the chance to see the red and purple ivy growing along the rocks as well as the random pink bushes through out the forests.
Cadillac Mountain is of course most famous for its sunrises as it is the first place in the United States to see sunlight from October to early March. A sunrise at the top of the summit is definitely something you want to do at least once, but expect a lot of traffic and for it to be overcrowded.
Hiking one of Cadillac’s many paths is a much better alternative to take in the views of the fall colors and Atlantic Ocean on Acadia’s highest peak.
The Gorge Path is one of the many paths that lead to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and I can tell you that it is the prettiest during the fall. This trail takes you through forest laden with colorful leaves. The path turns into a game of hopscotch as the trail is overflown with a stream and waterfalls.
It is a lot of fun, but you need to work hard to not get wet. The trail eventually opens up towards the summit and you are surrounded with views of ocean, colorful forest and Bar Harbor.
Don’t forget a nice jacket and a hat, the top of Cadillac is very windy and freezing in the fall.
The most dangerous, yet most fun trail in Acadia will take you climbing up the side of a cliff to its summit. Handle bars and ladders have been built into the side of the rocks as the edges can become very narrow and steep. This is a very difficult and demanding trail that should not be taken unless you are in great shape and don’t have a fear of heights.
This trail has some of the best views in Acadia as it looks onto the Park Loop Road and the Otter Cliff area. Once you make it to the top, it is necessary to recharge with a picnic and experience all of the colors the fall and Acadia has to offer.
The most common way to experience Acadia National Park is by driving the Park Loop Road. This 27 mile stretch of road takes you to all the major attractions of Acadia and often puts you on the edge of cliffs looking down on the jagged coastline. The fall colors overwhelm the road as some portions take you through a tunnel of trees.
The road is truly one of the most gorgeous you will find, but if you’re the driver, make sure you pay attention. A lot of people become immersed in the beauty and forget they are driving. There are plenty of places to pull off and enjoy the views.
This is one of the most beautiful places in Acadia and easily the most stunning in the fall. A walk around the pond itself is gorgeous enough, but for the best views it is necessary to hike up to the top of the South Bubble.
Not only will you encounter some amazing views, you will come into contact with the bubble rock and wonder how this massive boulder has yet to fall off of the cliff…
This area will take you to edges of cliffs looking down onto one of the most gorgeous views you will ever see. The top of a mountain, peering down onto a crystal clear lake surrounded by colorful trees in peak foliage with the Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop. Someone please tell me something better than this, I dare you. This is a spot where dreams are made of, and the perfect spot for a big moment.
Fall is easily one of the best times of the year. We all love our pumpkin things, apple picking and small dogs wearing Halloween costumes, but have we been doing it right all along? After a road trip through New England, it becomes obvious that a Maple Latte in hand while crying at the beauty of peak fall foliage is better than a Pumpkin Spice in the pumpkin patch.
Have you ever gone on a fall foliage adventure through New England or anywhere else? Have any questions or suggestions about a visit to New Hampshire, Maine, and the rest of New England? Want to know more about when to visit and how to time a trip for fall foliage? Please reply and comment below! You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me on Instagram @travelingle and @egtrotters . Thanks!!!