If you’re looking to find the best places to see fall foliage in New England, I can promise you that the list you’ll get here will more than suffice.
When it comes to fall foliage and the most iconic places in the states to see them, it’s hard to beat New England and being that there are 6 states in the region to explore the changing leaves, I’m going to cover specific regions/places in these states. In the future, I’ll do individual posts on each state as there’s obviously way more than 17, but these are perfect to plan a road trip to see. Anyway:
Here are the 17 best places to see fall foliage in New England:
- Franconia Notch State Park (New Hampshire).
- Crawford Notch State Park (New Hampshire).
- Sleeping Giant State Park (Connecticut).
- Smugglers Notch and Stowe (Vermont).
- Green Mountain National Forest (Vermont).
- Acadia National Park (Maine).
- Baxter State Park (Maine).
- Moosepath Trail and scenic drive (New Hampshire).
- Bish Bash Falls State Park (Massachusetts).
- Beaver Pond (New Hampshire).
- Lake Champlain (Vermont side).
- Snake Den State Park (Rhode Island).
- Monument Mountain (Massachusetts).
- Bigelow Preserve (Maine).
- Town of Kent (Connecticut).
- Camel’s Hump State Park (Vermont).
- Railroad Truss Bridge (New Hampshire).
In addition to this, I strongly recommend visiting every major town (not city) in New England. I only included one on this list because the truth is any town in the north eastern United States is great to see fall foliage in, which would make this an easy (and lazy) list to make. I’m focused much more on amazing mountain regions where you can get the more natural, wide open fall foliage experience in the region.
1) Franconia Notch State Park (New Hampshire):
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are probably the best place to see fall foliage in the state and Franconia Notch State Park will arguably give you the best experience of that.
It rests basically in the heart of the White Mountains and has a lot of incredible overlooks, access to popular mountains like Cannon Mountain, Mount Lafayette and each of those places offer their own experiences to explore.
In Cannon Mountain for example, you can take a gondola ride up to the top and get some really nice views of the fall foliage from there.
But anyway, Franconia Notch State Park which is the place to see in this is where you’ll want to make your road trip to see New England’s top fall colors.
Best time to see fall foliage in Franconia Notch State Park: Early-mid October.
2) Crawford Notch State Park (Famous fall train ride in New Hampshire):
For as long as I can remember, one of the most iconic photos of fall foliage I ever saw was of a train bridge cross mountain areas in the fall and the views were just breathtaking.
It took me many year (and Instagram) to discover that this area is in New Hampshire, but only recently did I learn that its actually in Crawford Notch State Park.
Now to be clear, all of New England has great train tours you can take to see the fall foliage, but this is one the most famous/iconic ones and since this location is a park, here’s specifics on what to do:
- Explore the trails in the area, which are great for hiking near the train bridge and a trestle (called Frankenstein Trestle) to see the great views.
- Take the famous Crawford train tour across the area (great for more passive but very scenic adventures).
Best time to see fall foliage in Crawford Notch State Park: Also early-mid October (maybe end of it).
3) Sleeping Giant State Park (Connecticut):
I never really explored as much of Connecticut as I would like, but for fall foliage if there’s one place worth visiting for great mountain views, fall colors and more, then it’s Sleeping Giant State Park.
Aside from having many mountain trails there and a giant tower to explore for great views, this park is amazing to see fall foliage at.
The area is very close to New Haven and if you enjoy hiking, Mt. Carmel is where you’ll want to go (inside the park) to get the best views of the park and of course all the colors.
And any town in this state is great for this too, but this is where you’ll get most out of it.
Best time to see fall foliage in Sleeping Giant State Park: Late October usually.
4) Smugglers Notch and Stowe (Vermont):
Fall foliage in this area of Vermont is something you have to see.
Smugglers Notch itself is an amazing place to explore not just for that but the incredible hiking trails, the scenic drive through the heart of that area and more and when I say the heart of fall foliage, I’m not kidding.
Stowe itself is a town I strongly recommend staying at and exploring during fall foliage as well and it’s close to Smugglers Notch too.
One other thing I want to mention is that there is a short period towards the end of October where the leaves in Smugglers Notch turn red and that is usually the last 2 weeks of October.
That is something I personally have sought to see over the years, but often miss.
Best time to see fall foliage in Smugglers Notch and Stowe: Mostly mid October (maybe end too).
5) Green Mountain National Forest (Vermont):
The Green Mountain National Forest area of Vermont is an entire gem for fall foliage and that is not me exaggerating. I’m actually being serious about this region in New England.
It doesn’t matter where in this region you go, you will always have access to tons of hikes, beautiful waterfalls, swimming holes, overlooks, scenic drives and much more to see all of this (trust me on that, I’ve been through this area several times and it’s amazing, as well as hard to miss amazing gems).
Generally speaking if you take any part of the Long Trail in the area, you’ll have great hikes to see the colors from but just as well, any small town in this area is also worth stopping and staying at for the fall colors.
Best time to see fall foliage in Green Mountain National Forest: Mid through late October.
6) Acadia National Park (Maine):
It’s hard to argue that Acadia National Park is the most beautiful area to visit in Maine and during fall foliage, it’s just that much better there.
The national park itself is one of the most beautiful in the entire eastern region of the states (maybe even the whole US), but aside from generalities, here’s what I would recommend you do in Acadia National Park to see fall foliage at it’s best:
1) Do any of the main hiking trails there to get you to see the overlooks of the park and ocean. It’s a wonderful mix of great adventures, fall colors everywhere, great sunset views and way more.
2) Stay in Bar Harbor if you can. That is basically the area within which the national park is in. There’s a nice town, restaurants and more of a “sea level” experience of the park and fall colors in general.
3) Do the drive around the park too. Scenic drives in Acadia are something else!
Best time to see fall foliage in Acadia National Park: Early through mid October.
7) Baxter State Park (Maine):
Baxter State Park is an excellent place to see fall colors in especially since you get access to the highest mountain range in the state there. There’s Mount Katadhin to check out and hike to see the highest views there.
There’s also hikes like Gulf Hagas to explore (be careful for moose) and one thing I would recommend doing during fall here which I wouldn’t in any other season is the “scenic drive” around the park (New River Road, Part Tote Rd and Grand Lake Road all of which are actually one road around it).
I did that drive in the summer and didn’t enjoy it because it’s hard to see the mountains because of the thick woods everywhere but during fall foliage, that scenery is actually worth checking out. Furthermore, this scenic drive provides access to many campsites across Baxter State Park too.
Best time to see fall foliage in Baxter State Park: Also early October.
8) Moose Path trail and scenic byway (New Hampshire):
Moose Path Trail is one of New Hampshire’s best scenic drives, and for the best places fall foliage in New England, it’s a perfect drive. The “trail” which is really just a long drive is over 120 miles and I’ve included a map that shows you how to do it. There are several roads you will want to take to do this trail and I’ve included a map:
One of the most scenic parts of the drive (most iconic) is when you pass Dixville Notch State Park (marked with an X on the map above).
Another major hike (if you’re into that) which I recommend taking in that area is called Table Rock which will take you to the top of mountain in this park to get a great view of the mountains and road (excellent for fall foliage pictures).
Best time to see fall foliage in Moose Path trail: Early through mid October.
9) Bish Bash Falls State Park (Massachusetts):
This is an incredible and highly underrated park I’ve been to a few times, just not during fall foliage (yet).
This area besides having an amazing waterfall and incredible fall foliage to behold also crosses into 2 other states, one of which is New York where it becomes Taconic State Park.
Other than this, the hikes there are pretty beginner friendly and the fall foliage colors (based on what I have seen from other sources) are stunning (there’s also swimming holes here).
Overall, you can spend an entire day in this park or even a few days and still not finish everything possible to do there.
Best time to see fall foliage in Bish Bash Falls State Park: Mid through late October.
10) Beaver Pond (New Hampshire):
The first time I ever drove into New Hampshire on my first road trip, I crossed this incredible place in the White Mountains.
The fall foliage at Beaver Pond is unbelievable and aside from this, the area is beautiful for many other reasons.
I strongly recommend visiting Beaver Pond if you’re driving through the White Mountains and want to see fall foliage (or just in general since it’s very nice here all year).
Another “gem” nearby is Lost River Gorge (10 minutes away) and this is a popular tourist area that I personally do not recommend visiting any other season other than fall, because it’s beautiful fall colors mixed with nice gorge trails and waterfalls.
Best time to see fall foliage in Beaver Pond: Mid October generally.
11) Lake Champlain (Vermont Side):
Lake Champlain is underrated for it’s beauty but if you are on the Vermont side of it (basically west of the Green Mountains and up to the Canadian Border), be sure to check it out. All over the shoreline there you will find amazing fall foliage and a lot of different towns to stay at to also enjoy it.
But the best parts of this park is seeing the Adirondack Mountains in New York.
And speaking of which, I also have a post on the best places to see fall foliage in New York (not part of the New England states, but they have amazing spots to explore for this specific season too).
In this case though, you’ll be on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain enjoying and exploring the area. One thing you may want to also see is Sand Bar State Park (in between NY and Vermont). It’s a small area, but very neat and the views of the states and mountains around there are spectacular!
Best time to see fall foliage throughout Lake Champlain: 2nd-3rd week of October.
12) Snake Den State Park (Rhode Island):
Even though it’s a small area, Rhode Island has a lot of towns to see great fall foliage in, but what I’m specifically suggesting you check out if you go to this state during fall foliage is Snake Den State Park, the area where you’ll likely get the most out of the state for autumn views.
The park is a nice mix of simple trails, farms, a few decent boulder hikes to pretty nice overlooks in general and some nice bridges that cross streams making for very nice photogenic fall photos.
Snake Den State Park is basically a 5-10 minute drive outside the city of Providence so you can easily stay in the town and visit this place for a day or more if you want.
You can also find some nice views from this park overlooking the area of Providence as well.
Best time to see fall foliage in Snake Den State Park: Last 2 weeks of October (usually).
13) Monument Mountain (Massachusetts):
This hike isn’t far from Bish Bash Falls and is awesome for family hikes and awesome overlooks of the Catskills in the distance and other mountain ranges around the Massachusetts area.
There is an iconic part of that hike that takes you to a beautiful summit to see all of this and for fall foliage, it’s a must see.
Unfortunately I don’t have a good photo of fall foliage in Monument Mountain but having personally done the hike here, I can tell you that there are incredible views, the hike is very nice (moderate in a few parts) and when I went there during the summer, I already saw yellow and red leaves in parts of it, making for an awesome visual experience.
Best time to see fall foliage at Monument Mountain: Mid October.
14) Bigelow Preserve (Maine):
A major Maine gem worth exploring year round and of course during fall foliage is Bigelow Preserve.
It’s a decent sized park with an amazing lake called Flaggstaff lake as well as islands on it to explore, but the area itself has beautiful hikes to take you to overlooks of those areas and every mountain range around it.
For all foliage this is one of the top 3 places to check out in all of Maine if you ask me. Whether it be taking boat rides on Flaggstaff lake of hiking to the top of one of the peaks there, it’s well worth it.
The main mountain in this area is Mount Bigelow which has hiking trails that take you to the summit. I have not visited this place yet and like with Monument Mountain don’t have a good picture of fall foliage here, but I can promise you it’s amazing (just look at any photo of this place if you want proof).
Best time to see peak fall foliage at Bigelow Preserve: Early through mid October usually.
15) Town of Kent (Connecticut):
I’m including Kent as the only town to see fall foliage in on this list for a simple reason:
The town itself is just a small portion of what you can see around it where the true gems are at.
There are farmlands, plains, lakes, rivers, streams, decent sized mountains and trails to explore and that mix is what makes coming to this area so worth it for fall foliage.
Like I said before, you should see as many towns as you can for fall foliage across New England, but the town of Kent should be on your list if you are in the Connecticut area.
Best time to see peak fall foliage at Kent: Last 3 weeks of October.
16) Camel’s Hump State Park (Vermont):
Camel’s Hump State Park is just below Smugglers Notch and Stowe (mentioned earlier in this list for great fall foliage locations) and yes, this is another Vermont gem to see for fall colors (and any season other than winter!).
This park is amazing to explore for a number of reasons:
- If you’re into more “wild” hiking and exploring, this is a great place for that.
- There are awesome hiking trails but you may want to check out my how to find easy trails near me post to see specific options.
- The overlooks and summit hikes here are incredible and while there’s mountain ranges everywhere, you are basically in between Smugglers Notch and the mountains there (north of the park) and Green Mountain National Forest and the peaks there (south of this).
- And of course, need I add how beautiful this place looks during the fall?
Best time to see peak fall foliage at Camel’s Hump State Park: Early through mid October.
17) Railroad Truss Bridge (famous fall foliage bridge in New Hampshire):
The last option on this list takes us back to New Hampshire and another major gem I’ve seen many times across social media. It’s a famous train bridge where peak fall foliage is absolutely stunning to check out. Very recently I finally discovered that this place is called Railroad Truss Bridge and it’s a short “hike” from the road to reach.
The railroad is active so I would be careful, but this is a very famous spot to explore and it’s actually close to Crawford Notch State Park where the other train ride for fall foliage is located at (as well as a nice looking trestle). I’m not sure if the railroads between that park and this area intersect, but it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that for fall foliage, this is one of the best spots to explore in New Hampshire and New England and it’s a great spot to conclude this list with!
Best time to see peak fall foliage at Camel’s Hump State Park: Early October through 3rd week of it.
Quick questions about checking out fall foliage leaves across New England:
What is the best time for fall foliage in New England?
It all depends on which New England state you visit. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island have peak fall foliage early October while Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are late September through mid October.
Where is the best fall foliage in New England?
Generally speaking New Hampshire has the best fall foliage in all of New England, although every state in this region has tons of beautiful spots to see it at as well.
Would love to hear your thoughts on the spots I listed in this post on the best places to see fall foliage in New England and if you also have any of your own personal suggestions!
12 thoughts on “17 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in New England”
Been scouring a ton of sources for the best places to see the transition to the fall season in/around New Hampshire, gotta say, it’s great to see these different parks and whatnot – it’s a blast to read through!
The Crawford train tour is what we’ve got our eyes on, do you know if the stops along the way or the main stop would allow for getting on some of the different trails easily? Like, are the main ones by the train bridge then? I assume it’s one main stop after the tour and it’d be cake to get to the different trails, just wondered if you knew anything specific about the route to elaborate on.
Awesome showcase, Vitaliy! Went ahead and got into your newsletter! 👍
Hi Colton, my guess is that the train ride makes several stops, like a shuttle allowing you to get out in different spots that may have hikes nearby, but overall it travels in a loop fashion so people can get the full experience if they choose to. I’ll have to personally check it out to see if that is the case, but at this point I’ll have to wait another year before that opportunity pops up!
Being an ex-New Yorker the one thing my wife and I miss are long drives upstate NY and New England. Reading this article brought back a lot of memories for us. It also made us want to go back and visit since we miss this time of year so much up in New England. Your article gives us a lot of great ideas. We are planning to go back soon so we can catch the fall foliage. Thank you for all your wonderful suggestions. Love your site with your articles!
My wife and I love to go hiking and to travel, and the upstate US area has some of the most beautiful places to see in the country.
I’m sad to say I haven’t heard about any of the places you mentioned in your site until now, and I appreciate the education of those areas (Making travel plans already.) We love nature so much, and some of the views you posted are truly breathtaking.
I also appreciate your use of maps to find these locations easier, and I GREALY appreciate your use of links to reach more information about each area. Thank you so much for sharing!
Happy that this post helps your travel adventures further Mark! Let me know if you find any other awesome places you think about be a good addition to this list or in general worth exploring 🙂
This is a wonderful and informative article. It was especially helpful that you included the times of the year to best see the foliage. I had no idea there were so many state parks. These pictures are beautiful.
My husband and I were trying to decide where to go on vacation next fall, and you helped us decide. Rhode Island, here we come! Have you traveled to all of these places yourself? Is there any particular place you prefer? I am on my way to check out your article on Texas next.
Hi Brandy, I’ve been to every state and many places on this list on this list except Rhode Island ironically. However I have yet to explore these places during the fall. Next week I have a weekend trip up to Vermont (Smugglers Notch) to hopefully still catch some great fall foliage views.
I was just talking with my friend/colleague the other day about her next travel destination this fall. She loves to travel and she usually does it during the fall season mainly because it’s her favorite season of the year. But what she loves the most about fall is foliage.
She has been to different places that have the best fall foliage in the US such as Colorado, Montana, and Michigan, and she is wondering where to go this fall. New England seems like a great place for my friend to visit.
Looking at these beautiful pictures of fall foliage in New England, I am pretty sure my friend will have a great time no matter which state she would choose.
But if I were to choose even just two places for her, I would go with Crawford Notch State Park in New Hampshire and Acadia National Park in Maine.
Very informative post, thank you, Vitaliy.
Yeah those other places your friend has been to have amazing fall foliage too Alice and I plan to visit them too someday but she can’t go wrong with any spot in New England (or New York for that matter). Give her this list and it’ll further enhance her already already huge fall foliage experiences 🙂
I have seen the fall foliage in Massachusetts while living there. While traveling from PA to Boston, the car ride gives a spectacular view of New England’s fall.
However, I have never stayed anywhere just to see the fall foliage. From your list, I like all these places and especially feel attracted to Vermont. In the future, we may plan something to stay in Vermont during the fall. It is useful to know so many places one can visit in one place so the planning will be easier.
Any state in New England has several amazing places to view fall foliage but certainly a car drive on any road there will also deliver!