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slides: Leaf Peeping Guide

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Experts are saying it's shaping up to be one of the best leaf-peeping seasons in recent memory, and you'll want to be ready for all the colors and when they're at their peak. We've got 12 great destinations to see Fall's best displays. Start planning your roadtrips now.

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The Berkshires

Western MA

Peak days: Oct 1-6

Why it's great: The Berkshires are an ideal place to take in the grandeur of a New England autumn early in leaf season. With three fantastic scenic drives in the North, Central, and South Berkshires, there are unforgettable sights at every twist and turn. The Berkshires' "Leaf Chief" says that getting there is part of the experience, and recommends the Taconic Parkway if you are coming from the New York City area and Route 2 if you are coming from the Boston area. Both of these roads offer a preview of the amazing colors to come. Do not forget to stop in to one of the quaint towns dotted throughout, specializing in antiques, artisan crafts, and cozy eateries. Photo: Randomduck/flickr

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Northern VT

Peak days: First week of October

Why it's great: This world-famous leaf peeping spot is located at the base of Vermont's highest peak, Mount Mansfield. Any self-respecting leaf peeper has visited this 200-year-old village to admire the golden yellows, crimson reds, and vibrant oranges. While there, do not miss out on a visit to the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream plant, where you can take a tour of the facility and be a witness to the magic. Coffee lovers will enjoy the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Visitor's Center and Café, and the Cold Hollow Cider Mill is sure to be fun for all. Photo: photofarmer/flickr

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The Kancamagus Hwy

Lincoln-Conway, NH

Peak days: First 2 weeks in Oct

Why it's great: Also know as "The Kanc," this classic New England foliage route offers 34.5 miles of scenic views. The road travels through the 800,000 acre White Mountain National Forest, which mixes dazzling autumnal deciduous trees with coniferous evergreens to create the most spectacular fall palette that anyone could ask for. As if that is not enough to occupy the most insatiable of fall activity lovers, The Kanc does not stop with foliage. Challenge yourself with hiking and biking trails, relax in swimming holes and ponds, visit the historic sites, bridges, and rivers, or plan a camping trip complete with a cozy picnic. Photo: Matthew Teal/Wikipedia

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Cannon Mountain

Grafton County, NH

Peak days: October 5 - 8

Why it's great: Looking to be engulfed with the majesty of a New England autumn all at once? Hop aboard the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway and catch a lift to the 4,080-foot summit for $15, round-trip. On the way to the top take in the picture-perfect views of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, New York, and even Canada. Stretch your legs at the summit with a walk on one of several panoramic pathways. Also available is a cafeteria, bar, and 360-degree observation deck. Photo: Mount Washington Observatory

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Southern VT

Peak days: October 10 - 15

Why it's great: A picturesque mix of warm hues, greenery, and an old-fashioned charm characterizes Bennington, Vermont. Flowing brooks and stately boulder landscapes set a tone of serenity for the transition between seasons. Embrace the steady drop in temperature with some of Bennington's outdoor actives such as hiking, biking, canoeing, hunting, boating, and fishing, or escape to a warmer climate at the New England Tropical Conservatory. This gem houses 96 acres of tropical plants in woods, wetlands, and meadows. Wrap up the day by catching a movie at the old-fashioned Hathaway's Drive-In Theatre. Photo: dougtone/flickr

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The Arnold Arboretum

Jamaica Plain & Roslindale, MA

Peak days: October 14 - 20

Why it's great: This 265-acre park is the second largest link in Boston's Emerald Necklace. It is the perfect retreat from the lights and sounds of the busy city. The park is managed and maintained by Harvard University and houses over 15,000 plants and trees such as stately oaks, delicate magnolias, and ethereal willows. Photo: Justin Ide/Harvard News Service

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Lincoln Woods State Park

Lincoln, RI

Peak days: October 14 - 20

Why it's great: This 627-acre gem is a short ride from Providence, Pawtucket, and Cumberland, and is a great day-trip destination for both locals and tourists.  Lincoln Woods has many leaf-strewn pathways to wander down and more than enough deciduous trees to admire. Located in Blackstone Valley between routes 146 and 123, this park comes complete with two freshwater beaches, the lovely Olney Pond, hiking, biking, jogging, and pedestrian trails, a nature barn, picnicking facilities, boating, swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and horseback riding. For a longer day, check out nearby Slater Mill, the first water-powered cotton textile mill in North America, in Pawtucket.

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RI Route 77

Tiverton/Little Compton/Sakonnet Point, RI

Peak days: October 14 - 20

Why it's great: You would think you were driving along a serene, rural road in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine. But the long country road lined with ancient stone walls, beautiful meadows and forests of trees bursting with warm color passes through the Rhode Island towns of Tiverton, Little Compton, and Sakonnet Point. Stop in to these quaint villages along the way to enjoy ice cream, roadside farm stands, sea cliffs, a vineyard, and a winery.

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Charles River Esplanade

Boston, MA

Peak days: October 15 - 19

Why it's great: This park is situated between the banks of the Charles River and Storrow Drive. While in the summertime the Esplanade is renowned for its Boston Pops Fourth of July concert, fireworks, and concert series, it is a joy in the fall as well. On a drive or leisurely walk, one can spy over 2,000 species of trees showing golden yellow, bright orange, and stunning scarlet hues on its branches. Far from just a river and a walkway, the Esplanade also features boating docks, playgrounds, historic bridges, statues, and the famous Hatch Shell performance stage. Photo: amatern/flickr

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Arcadia Management Area

Exeter, RI

Peak days: October 22 - 25

Why it's great: The Arcadia Management Area is Rhode Island's largest recreational area with approximately 14,000 forested acres. You will see a variety of colors here as 64 percent of the forest consists of deciduous trees and 36 percent consists of evergreens. Also enjoying the foliage will be an array of furry and feathered friends such as cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares, bobwhites, ring-necked pheasants, and wild turkeys. Activities to be taken advantage of while enjoying the blazing autumnal transition include hunting, fishing, hiking, picnicking, biking, boating, and horseback riding.

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Macedonia Brook

Kent, CT

Peak days: October 25 - 27

Why it's great: This state park has 2,300 acres of spectacular views and unexpected terrain to offer. Highlights include the views of the Catskill and Taconic Mountains as well as the serene streams and springs interspersed throughout. Looking to take in the scenery with a hike? Take the Blue Trail that passes through Cobble Mountain for a leisurely trek without too much strenuous activity. Take the White Trail for a real challenge. Not to worry, the view at the summit is well worth the workout. Photo: pixonomy/flickr

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People's State Forest

Hartland, CT

Peak days: October 25 - 27

Why it's great: Located in the Pleasant Valley region of Hartland, this forest offers a whopping seven trails for your leaf peeping pleasure. Stroll along any of these colorful leaf-strewn paths, go fishing, canoeing, kayaking, or tubing in the Farmington River, or have a picnic in the 200-year-old white pine groves. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935, there is also the free Nature Museum to explore, which features displays on forestry, flora and fauna, rocks, minerals, insects, and historical artifacts.


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