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  • Writer's pictureBryan Donoghue

Leaf Peeping: Where to Find the Best Fall Foliage in the Eastern United States

Top Regions in the East to see the Leaves Change this Autumn

Striking red, orange, yellow, and possibly purple (I'm somewhat colorblind) foliage blasts out of the trees lining a street in Connecticut after a fresh rain

Nepaug State Forest: Canton, CT - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

It's Leaf Peepin' Season!

Growing up in New England, I feel incredibly spoiled to have been able to experience some of the most vibrant, vivid Fall foliage each and every year. Reds, oranges, yellows, and even purples in crisp Autumn air struck a stark contrast to the lush greenery fed by the spring and summer humidity surrounding us for the past several months. Sure it signified the summer was over, and yet another brutal winter was only a few short months away - but the perfectly temperate weather and brilliantly colored leaves all around certainly softened those blows. In my completely and entirely unbiased opinion, nothing compares to Fall in New England.

As I grew older, and began to witness Autumn colors outside of my home territory, I realized this might not be the case. The Adirondacks in upstate New York, (almost) every bit as beautiful as their eastern neighbors. The Shenandoahs and the Smokies to the South also both have a solid case as well. Hell, even the birches and aspens littering the mountains with yellow outside Flagstaff, Arizona (or around Southern Utah, or even creeping into the Rockies) are beautiful in their own right, if a bit more monochromatic than I'm accustomed to. Though I haven't been able to time the trips quite right yet, I've heard from quite a few Pathloomers that the foliage in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest is nothing to sneeze at either. The more I talk to our community (read: get kind-heartedly admonished by), the more I realize what I've been missing out on, and I cannot wait to head North to see for myself!

An endless forest of color on a mountainside stretching all the way to the edge of a river in Woodstock, Vermont

Green Mountain National Forest: Woodstock, VT - Photo Credit: Chris Blake

One thing I have noticed since moving out to California is that for all the insanely varied natural beauty the state has to offer, the leaf game comes up a bit short as compared to other regions throughout the country. While I haven't been to every far reach of the state as of yet, and would be happy to be proven wrong on this front (you can do so by writing angry words and sending angry photos to, my experience thus far is that this is one season where Californians are better off traveling to other parts of the country for the full experience.

So to that effect, and in celebration of the onset of one of the unanimous Top Four Seasons of the Year, we polled the Pathloom team, contributors, and the community at large regarding some of the best places across the country to view Fall foliage in all it's Autumnal brilliance. Since this is quite an extensive topic, we're going to break this guide up into a few different parts. Today, we'll stick with the Eastern United States - from New England and the Northeast down to the Midatlantic states, creeping just a bit into the South as well. Stay tuned for coverage on other regions - and if you feel strongly that we need to include your neck of the woods, again please reach out to us at to let us know!

Milo, the single cutest dog on the planet, lounges amidst fallen leaves in the Autumn. His handsomeness knows no bounds, from his cute snout to his white chin to his pristine white-gloved paws. He is mostly pit bull, with a bit of boxer thrown in to keep him skinny

Don't forget - dogs love leaves! - Good Boy Credit: MILO!

FYI, has a GREAT interactive map to help you determine what areas have peak foliage depending on the time of year - and it's not just for the Smokies, it's for the entire (contiguous) USA! Click here to check it out, but remember - just like the weather itself there's no way to predict foliage patterns with 100% success, so don't be mad at them (or us!) if you feel you might have missed peak season in your respective location.

If planning a trip, keep in mind that peak season varies region to region - general rule of thumb is that the farther north you go, the earlier in the year the season will peak. Still, if you find yourself near any of these locations any time between September and November, it may be worth taking a ride up to see what our tree friends have to offer before they shed their leafy coats for the winter.


Beautiful yellow leaves and birchy looking trees in Acadia National Park in Maine

Jesup Path: Bar Harbor, ME - Photo Credit: Chris Blake

Brilliant varied color trees line the White Mountains surrounding Zealand Falls in New Hampshire

Zealand Falls: Bethlehem, NH - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

This autumnal farm looks New England AF surrounded by trees changing colors for the season in Woodstock Vermont

Sleepy Hollow Farm: Woodstock, VT - Photo Credit: Chris Blake

a mirror-reflective pond in Pearl Hill State Park in northern Massachusetts reflects bright reds, oranges, yellows, and greens back on the trees adorned by leaves of the same colors

Pearl Hill State Park - West Townsend, MA - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

an impossibly-colored red-orange-purple tree highlights the foreground of this forest in Connecticut

Mount Horr: Canton, CT - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

beautiful foliage stretches for miles throughout the Adirondacks in upstate (or is it Western?) New York

Pratts Falls Park: Pratts Falls, NY - Photo Credit: Cait Newby

country roooooads take me hooooome to the plaaaaace i belooooong west(ern) virginiaaaa mountain mamaaaa take me hoooome country roooooaads

Sleepy Hollow Farm: Woodstock, VT - Photo Credit: Chris Blake

brilliantly saturated colors adorn the Great Smoky Mountains, with badass stormclouds circling overhead

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN - Photo Credit: Chris Blake


Do you think we left out one of your favorite leaf peepin' places in the East? Do you have recommendations for the Midwest or the West that we should include in future editions of this series? Are you a photographer that would like to contribute to future Pathloom articles? Let us know at!


Check out these other articles by Pathloom which you may enjoy:

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