In this article, I’m going to give you specifics on where (and when) to go to see the best fall foliage in New York state (there are 11).
The good news about fall foliage in New York is that:
- You have about 3 weeks to see it (typically middle to beginning of November).
- It’s all across the state, giving you tons of options depending on where you live.
11 places to see the best fall foliage in New York:
- Central Park (NYC)
- Harriman State Park
- Bear Mountain State Park
- Catskill Park
- Lake George
- Finger Lakes
- Allegheny State Park
- Letchworth State Park
- Adirondack Mountains
- Lake Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve
- Other fall foliage spots in Upstate New York
Central Park (NYC):
- Best time to see fall foliage in Central Park? Late October to early November
Let’s get the easiest one out of the way. If you live in NYC or are planning to visit it and want to see the autumn leaves and fall foliage, go to Central Park, specifically after mid October for great views. Central Park has a great mix of nature, fall foliage, skyscrapers and tons of passive activities to enjoy in the area and while this is true year round, fall time is exceptionally beautiful here.
While I live in NYC and don’t really think there’s much good nature here, Central Park might be one of the only places that would change my mind about that thought (and specifically during autumn). Now let’s go further outside NYC for what I consider even better places for this:
Harriman State Park:
- Best time to see fall foliage in Harriman State Park: Mid October through early November
Harriman State Park is in my opinion an excellent area to visit not just for hikes and adventures, but fall foliage, something I have had the honor of seeing multiple times. This park is only about 1 hour from NYC (north) and if you go here during the right time, there’s tons to do aside from seeing the fall foliage. In fact, for the best areas in that park to see during fall, I would recommend:
- The Reeves Brook loop trail.
- The Seven Lakes drive (great for fall foliage views).
- The Lemon Squeezer on the Appalachian Trail (better for experienced hikers).
I’ve hiked deep into this park during the fall season and I really enjoy it. Although getting lost in the woods is very possible here, if you are just looking to see good fall foliage colors, just take the Seven Lakes drive or any other main road drive in the park and you’ll get plenty of it.
Bear Mountain State Park:
- Best time to see fall foliage in Bear Mountain State Park: Also mid October through very early November.
Under normal circumstances, I would not recommend people visit Bear Mountain State Park because I personally think it’s boring there, but when fall foliage comes around, it really enhances the beauty of this park and that’s why it’s on this list (also because it’s very famous). If you’re going to go to Bear Mountain, know that there is a $10 car fee to get in and if you want to avoid, the good news is that Harriman State Park is right next to it (and it’s free to visit that one). When you do visit Bear Mountain, there are specific activities I recommend you do to get the most out of the fall foliage:
- Walk around the main lake there.
- There’s also nice Halloween festivals in Bear Mountain.
- Take the main Bear Mountain hike trail to get into the woods of this park and close to the colors (also there is a great scenic view when you summit).
- Best time to see fall foliage in Catskill Mountains (peak time): Mid October through end of October (sometimes maybe first week of November).
There is no denying that the Catskill Mountains have some of the best fall foliage views in the entire state and this is one of the reasons I constantly come here during that period, and every time I do, although I know I’m going into familiar areas, it’s still just as beautiful there as though it’s my first time. Now I actually made an entire article on the best places to catch Catskills fall foliage and there’s currently 10+ areas I strongly recommend (Kaaterskill Falls and Sunset Rock to name a few).
This is only a small bit of the best spots to see the fall foliage but it’s more than enough for most. You can either just drive through the area and enjoy the scenery, but you also have plenty of choices for amazing hiking trails that take you through beautiful areas and overlooks.
- Best time to see fall foliage in Lake George: Mid October through end of it (November is likely too late).
Lake George is a very famous spot in general, but for fall foliage, it’s probably at it’s peak for beautiful views. To be honest, I have been to this area several times, mostly from Spring-early fall so I missed the fall foliage. However, I can tell you that any area you explore here is great for that. Here are just some spots:
- Saratoga Springs (town).
- Hague town.
- Taking a boat ride across the lake and islands there.
- Plenty of hikes available across Lake George for great scenic views of the fall foliage.
- Best time to see fall foliage in Finger Lakes: Middle of October through very early November.
Finger Lakes has always been in my opinion the most beautiful area of the state to check out (with many close second choices) and because this area is so huge, just like with the Catskill Mountains, it’s going to take me forever to list every single spot to see there, so here’s a short list of what I would say are the top Finger Lake spots to visit for fall foliage:
Believe me when I say this list may seem short, but it’s a lot to see and do and for fall foliage, be prepared to be shocked at how beautiful it is here.
Allegheny State Park:
- Best time to see fall foliage in Allegheny State Park: Late October through early November.
Out of most of the choices on this list, you will have the most leeway to see the fall foliage colors. Allegheny State Park is a very beautiful place to explore and it’s also next to Pennsylvania where the park turns into a national forest, so be sure to explore that too because it too has a lot to offer (actually it might be even more beautiful there with more stuff to see and check out, specifically very nice hiking trails and more). In this park, you have great views, covered bridges, great open spaces, awesome hikes and a lot to enjoy, and that doesn’t already include how beautiful it gets here in the fall.
Letchworth State Park:
- Best time to see fall foliage in Letchworth State Park (peak): Late October through early November.
Letchworth State Park is an incredibly beautiful park to visit anytime of the year, but of course since we’re focused on fall foliage, you already know when the best time to see it is. The park has 2 major (and huge) waterfalls, and the mountains and hiking trails next to it are amazing to view the fall foliage from.
This park is very polished and excellent for “just” sight seeing so it’s great for elderly people or anyone not interested in anything too active. Of course if you’re looking to hike, you will have plenty of other options too, but this park is iconic for fall foliage in New York for good reason.
- Best time to see fall foliage in Adirondack Mountains (peak): Early October through mid October usually.
The Adirondack Mountains probably offer the widest range of fall foliage areas to explore and once again, I’m going to give you a “small” list of them here:
- Drive the High Peaks Scenic Byway (best option).
- Explore Mount Marcy.
- See Chapel Pond.
- Check out Ausable Chasm (it’s near the Adirondacks).
- Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain.
- Do the Avalanche Pass hike (very remote and scenic).
- If you can do the Indian Head Trail, that would probably be the “peak” of exploring fall foliage here!
Lake Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve:
- Best time to see fall foliage in Lake Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve: End of October (last 2 weeks usually).
Both Lake Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve are connected together but officially are 2 separate places, but if you visit one area for fall foliage, the other is a perfect spot to also explore (maybe a weekend trip where you see each spot one day).
Anyway, for Lake Minnewaska, the best spots for fall foliage there are:
- See the Lake itself.
- Definitely do the Getrude’s Nose hike.
- See Awosting Falls.
For Mohonk Preserve:
- See the Mountain House.
- Do the Labyrinth trail (great overlooks and trail).
- See the Lost City Loop trail also for great views!
More fall foliage in Upstate New York:
- Best time to see fall foliage in Upstate New York: Late October through very early November.
To save you (and myself) plenty of time, I want to list some other great spots/parks you can visit to see the fall foliage colors and it’s basically all throughout the upstate area (north of NYC generally). Here is a list:
- Purple Heart Memorial Bridge.
- Hudson Highlands State Park.
- Stormking Mountain State Park.
- Schunemunk Mountain State Park
- Sterling Forest State Park and Green Lake Village.
- Taconic State Park.
- Any of the following Hudson River Valley hikes.
- And more of course will be added.
More questions about fall foliage in New York:
What is the best time to see fall colors in New York?
Generally after mid October is the best time to see fall colors throughout most of New York State. Although the more north you look for it, the earlier you would want to start since it starts there earlier in October.
When can you see fall leaves in NYC?
Usually late October is when the fall foliage starts in NYC.
Where is the best foliage in New York?
In NYC itself, Central Park. But in New York State, the best fall foliage is in Finger Lakes or the Catskill Mountains.
Is there fall foliage in NYC in November?
In rare cases, fall foliage does occur in NYC in November, but only in the first few weeks of it.
Where is the fall foliage in Hudson Valley?
The best time to see fall foliage in Hudson Valley is mid to late October.
If you have any questions or suggestions about fall foliage in New York and the best places to see it, you’re welcome to suggest the places below!