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Best Places & Times To Find Fall Colors on the East Coast

Best Places & Times To Find Fall Colors on the East Coast

Have no doubt — New Jersey is the greatest! But we love to travel in the fall to get the best glimpses of fall color.

 

As of now (mid-September), fall color is just starting to make its way down from Canada into Maine, Northern New Hampshire, and Northern Vermont. You might even be seeing glimpses now in your favorite local parks.

 

It won’t be long now before it creeps its way down to Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware! 

 

Here are all the best places (and best times!) to chase fall color in the Northeast. Get out and get shooting!

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If you want more, check out this 2019 Fall Foliage Predictor Map.

REMEMBER: The map we got this information from is incredible, but there’s no guarantee it’ll match Mother Nature exactly. These timelines are for peak color. If you want partial-peak or partial peak, head out NOW!

MAINE

Early October (Starting Oct. 5)

What could be more fall than Maine in October? Check out Acadia National Park for some amazing fall scenes. Take the Cadillac Mountain Summit Loop for views from above the park — catch the sunrise AND the dense fall foliage for the best Instagram shot.

The Jordan Pond Loop in Acadia will also give you amazing mountain views with a lake-view in the foreground. Check out Bass Harbor Head Light for a real Northeastern autumn picture!


If you’re up for a scenic drive, check out Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway, which winds through over 40,000 acres of conserved public access lands. The photo opportunities will be endless here!

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Early October (Starting Oct. 5)

Of course, the White Mountains are the centerpiece of fall foliage in New Hampshire — but there are plenty of spots that should draw your attention! Whether it be the oranges and dark reds of the Presidential Range or the autumn hues of the Merrimack River Valley, there’s lots to explore in New Hampshire.


Drive through the Kancamagus Highway/Scenic Byway (or the “Kank” as the locals call it) to cover the White Mountains region, stopping at pull-outs along the way to get unique photos of your travels through the fall colors. There are a lot of waterfalls and overlooks along the way too!

You could also drive to the top of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. — don’t forget to pick up that bumper sticker when you get to the top (you know the one).

You can also take a train ride, bike, or pontoon cruise your way through the fall colors. The opportunities in New Hampshire are endless!


For a unique autumn experience, take the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway to the top of Cannon Mountain this fall. On a clear day, you can see Canada!

While at Cannon Mountain, check out Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch State Park — yet another one-of-a-kind fall activity in New Hampshire!

VERMONT

Early October (Starting Oct. 5)

Vermont is famous for its red, orange and gold sugar maples. So head up early to check out the vibrant colors before they fade!

For the best “leaf-peeping” in Vermont, head to the Green Mountains. You can zip-line, canoe, kayak, or just walk (you’re here for a photo guide, right?) through the amazing autumn colors in Jeffersonville. Get some amazing photos along the waterfront.

 

And then there’s Burlington. Frame the perfect fall photo with dynamic colors against the serene Lake Champlain

 

If you’re interested in scenic drives in Vermont, check out this guide.

NEW YORK

Early October (Starting Oct. 5) through Mid-October (Starting Oct. 19)

Waterfalls, overlooks, state forests and more await you in Upstate New York this fall! Bundle up and head out into the woods or up a fire tower to check out the fall foliage from above.

NORTHERN NEW YORK

The Adirondacks should be your first stop for seeing fall color in New York — and they’re already starting to change colors

 

Hikers will enjoy the Baker Mountain Trail, which puts you on the summit of Baker Mountain, overlooking Saranac Lake and all the fall colors around the area. More experienced hikers might want to take on the Hadley Mountain Fire Tower hike in Lake George for summit firetower views in all directions.

 

For a unique autumn experience, try the Wild Walk — a boardwalk 30 feet above the trails. You don’t even need a drone to experience the treetops from above.

 

If you’re more of a city person, visit Lake Placid or Lake George. Both have amazing foliage in town and around the lakes in each city.

WESTERN NEW YORK

The Ithaca and Finger Lakes region is also amazing spot to catch some autumn colors. Taughannock Falls State Park is a cool destination all year-round, but imagine this spot framed by fall foliage! You can hike into the waterfall, or see it from an overlook off the road.

Watkins Glen is another spot that would be perfect in the fall — imagine waterfalls surrounded by autumn tones. After hiking through the gorge, drive around Seneca Lake or explore Finger Lakes National Forest.

HUDSON VALLEY

Just a short drive from North Jersey, the southern part of New York will get peak color a little later in October. Minnewaska State Park is a great destination for leaf peepers — hike to a waterfall, check out the lookout at Lake Awosting, or stop at the highway overlooks on the way there! You’re sure to see some amazing foliage.

You can also check out the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County for more unique autumn views.

CONNECTICUT

Mid-October (Starting Oct. 19)

There are over 100 state parks in Connecticut! So wherever you happen to be in this small state, you’re bound to find some nature somewhere.

If you need a suggestion, check out the 165-foot Heublein Tower in Talcott Mountain State Park for 360-views of color across Connecticut! For another mountain view, drive to the top of Haystack Mountain in Haystack Mountain State Park


You can also wander through New Haven, home to Yale. The fall colors will be stunning alongside the historic buildings of this Ivy League University.

RHODE ISLAND

Mid-October (Starting Oct. 19)

What’s better than downtown Newport during the summer? Downtown Newport in the fall, of course! Walk the Cliff Walk and see the trees in stark contrast with ocean blues, or meander through the mansions and see all kinds of trees changing colors that are planted there.

Drive along Ocean Drive to the Castle Hill Lighthouse for a quintessential Northeastern maritime scene, too.

MASSACHUSETTS

Mid-October (Starting Oct. 19)

Massachusetts is filled with some amazing forest opportunities to take photos of autumn colors! The state is covered by 3,060,000 acres of forests (over 100 state forests!!), so you’re bound to find some amazing colors here.

 

Add Mount Greylock State Reservation and Mount Greylock to your list. At 3491 feet, Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts — you’re sure to see some fall colors from the top.

If you’re heading out to Cape Cod, check out Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge while you’re there for a double dose of fall bird migration and fall colors.


For some spooky exploring, check out the cemeteries of Salem in full color in Mid-October. You could also head into Boston for some city shooting with the urban trees along the waterfront.

For the urban explorer, check out Shelberne Falls, an artsy town by a river in the Berkshires. Take a stroll across Bridge Street or the Bridge of Flowers — which will no doubt be decked out with fall decor!

NORTHERN PENNSYLVANIA

Mid-October (Starting Oct. 19)

Pennsylvania is a huge state with tons of forests (much like Massachusetts). Here are some places to explore in the Northern part of the state when color comes in first.


Pine Creek Gorge, or the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon as it’s colloquially called, is nestled in the Tioga State Forest. You can hike in and out of the gorge, but you can also hike along the Pine Creek Rail Trail inside the gorge too — talk about an amazing photo op!

For a scenic town getaway, visit the town of Jim Thorpe, nestled in the Pocono Mountains, and take a trip on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway — a unique fall photo opportunity. Make the trip up for the town’s fall foliage festival!

 

Visit Bald Eagle State Park in Central PA for wetlands, lakes and hiking through the fall foliage. Or you can frame your fall photos in one of Rickett’s Glen’s 22 waterfalls (that’s right, 22!). For another waterfall experience, check out Bushkill Falls. Or, of course, you could hike Mount Minsi and say hey to Mount Tammany.

 

For an amazing fall cityscape, head to Pittsburgh and take the Duquesne Incline or drive up to the top of Mount Washington to see the city from above. While in Pittsburgh, check out Schenley Park and Frick Park, wooded city parks downtown where you can walk through the trees!

NORTH JERSEY/CENTRAL JERSEY

Mid-October (Starting Oct. 19)

You know we have a lot of recommendations for this! Check out our fall foliage map for all the spots we think you should see in the Garden State.

 

Morristown National Historical Park is one spot we’d recommend — hike through where Washington’s troops stayed for the winter 1779-1780, where you can explore in the park today. 

High Point State Park is another must-visit for fall colors! From here, you’ll get a panoramic view of all the hills and valleys of three states. Check out our state parks map here.


Traveling into Central Jersey will give you a transition between peak and partial-peak color. For this, check out Cheesequake State Park — known as a transitional location between urban North Jersey and urban South Jersey. With its wooden trails surrounded by nature, you’re bound to get some good photographs along your hike.

And don’t forget the Palisades! Fall colors stand out here around the Hudson River, waterfalls, and the city.

SOUTH JERSEY

Late October (Starting Oct. 26)

Again, check out the NJspots fall foliage map

 

But aside from that, now’s the time to check out the Pinelands if you haven’t already! Head on over to a fire tower for a unique fall colors scene, or explore with the New Jersey Devil just in time for Halloween (we’re kidding — maybe).

 

The Belleplain State Forest is mostly known for its wildlife, but don’t let that fool you — it’s a great place to capture some fall foliage while you camp, have a picnic or take a hike here for the day. Head down to Cape May and get some fall lighthouse shots too! See our lighthouse map here.

 

You can also check out trails in Wharton State Forest. Whether you visit this location for hikes or mountain biking, make sure to take a break and enjoy all the changing colors on your journey. They also have wildlife observation from bald eagles, and great horned owls to turkeys and foxes scattered throughout the forest. See all our state forest spots here.

SOUTHERN PENNSYLVANIA

Late October (Starting Oct. 26)

If you’re a hiker, check out Hawk Mountain and hike part of the Appalachian Trail — this will lead to an overlook where you can see the fall colors in every direction. 

 

Walk your way through the densely forested Ridley Creek State Park in Southeastern PA, explore the Wissahickon Valley Park Trail System, or make your way into Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park for autumn hues with the city as your backdrop.

If you’re interested in architecture surrounded by dense forests, check out Fallingwater in Bear Run Nature Preserve in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Imagine this surrounded by stunning fall color. Make quick stop at the gorge in Ohiopyle State Park right down the road and take your fall photos with whitewater kayakers as your subjects!

DELAWARE

Late October (Starting Oct. 26)

What’s better than fall colors and the beach? Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware will get some fall colors. Climb up the observatory tower on the cape to check out how the fort changes with the seasons. You can get here from a ferry from Cape May, too! 


White Clay Creek State Park, an easy drive from Southeastern Pennsylvania or Northeastern Maryland, is another perfect place to walk, freshwater fish, or bike among the trees and capture the changing leaves!

MARYLAND

Late October (Starting Oct. 26)

Drive down to Washington Monument State Park for an overlook of a rock field, the Washington Monument (no, the other one), and hike part of the Appalachian Trail while you’re there! The expansive rock field makes a cool foreground subject compared to the amazing reds and yellows of fall foliage.

Head on over to High Rock Lookout for a view of three states and even more trees! This graffiti-lined lookout is a little unconventional, but makes for amazing photos.

For a fall drive in Maryland, head down to Catoctin Mountain Park via Route 77, where you can witness the leaves change across the Blue Ridge Mountains.

NORTHERN VIRGINIA

Late October (Starting Oct. 26)

If you’ve never explored this area, it’s not all cities and cars! Head down to Great Falls Park (no, not the one in Paterson) and see this historic waterfall covered in fall colors.

For a longer trip and a little bit of a drive, make your way down Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Nothing beats the fall colors in this park! You might even see a bear.

That concludes our list of Northeastern places to see fall colors! Wherever you go, make sure to tag #NJspotsTravels, #NJspots, and #NJspotsFall on Instagram for a chance to be featured!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I sure hope we get some spectacular foliage this year – especially with the North Jersey dates you have listed! I took off that week last year and came away empty….

    1. Looks like we are going to get lucky this season Joe!

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