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
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!
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 email@example.com), 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know!
Don't forget - dogs love leaves! - Good Boy Credit: MILO!
FYI, smokymountains.com 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.
Jesup Path: Bar Harbor, ME - Photo Credit: Chris Blake
Zealand Falls: Bethlehem, NH - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue
Sleepy Hollow Farm: Woodstock, VT - Photo Credit: Chris Blake
Pearl Hill State Park - West Townsend, MA - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue
Mount Horr: Canton, CT - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue
Pratts Falls Park: Pratts Falls, NY - Photo Credit: Cait Newby