As crisp autumn weather moves through the northeastern United States, a vibrant fall season is on the horizon.
With the promise of stunning scenery and a break from the sweltering heat of late summer, fall is hailed as the prime season for outdoor adventure in states like Vermont, Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania. In the first weeks of September, northern foliage is swiftly changing hues from bright August greens to deep amber and gold cresting the summits of the Appalachians. Before embarking on your next fall foliage tour, check out our guide below for the best autumn views in some of the northeast’s hidden treasures.
At the close of each summer, Vermont’s famous maple trees transform into fiery displays of brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows on every hillside and mountaintop for miles on end. With a short-lived peak season providing unparalleled views, a road trip through the Vermont countryside should be on every nature lover’s bucket list. Lake Champlain on the Canada-U.S. border is surrounded by bright golden foliage during October and November, making it a popular spot for bikers and boaters drawn to its peaceful shores and scenic trails.
Perhaps the best view of Vermont’s picturesque fall foliage can be found atop Mount Mansfield, where rocky peaks look down upon an auburn landscape stretching out to the horizon. Visitors can trek along the oldest long-distance footpath in America while taking in postcard views from Vermont’s highest mountain.
Home to the mighty Appalachian Mountains and over 40 state parks, Virginia is the perfect destination for autumn adventurers. For breathtaking fall scenery, visitors can summit the tall peaks of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, where over 500 miles of trails weave through tawny forests along Virginia’s rugged highlands.
Shenandoah National Park is a hotspot for fall visitors during peak season with scenic drives, miles of hiking trails, and nearby wineries. As the warm colors of fall sweep through the Blue Ridge Mountains, the surrounding forests come to life with increased tourist traffic as well as the ever-present company of over 200 native bird species and over 50 native mammal species nearby. For an idyllic fall retreat, Virginia’s natural parks pair relaxation with adventure at the most radiant time of year.
The Adirondack region of upstate New York transforms into a stunning canvas of autumn colors each year with unmatched natural beauty and nearby attractions suited for a diverse tourist population. Along with natural parks and tons of activities for avid outdoorsmen, the Adirondacks also provide a romantic retreat for couples or a fun getaway for families with seasonal attractions like fall festivals, apple picking, hot air balloon rides, corn mazes, ghost tours, and nearby wine and cider tours.
The Finger Lakes also offer natural beauty and rustic charm throughout the fall season as the surrounding landscape bursts with color and cooler temperatures drive visitors into local shops and small wineries. Quaint towns scattered across the region celebrate the harvest season with historic festivals celebrating the beauty of New York’s most golden time of year.
In mid-October, the rolling mountains of the Laurel Highlands are blanketed in autumn colors along windy roads stretching beyond the Mason-Dixon line. Views at the top of Mt. Davis provide panoramic scenery with fluttering fall leaves and fresh, cool air from the highest point in Pennsylvania. Ohiopyle State Park in southwestern PA also transports visitors to a golden retreat where dozens of hiking trails lead to natural waterslides and roaring waterfalls.
With a colorful backdrop of vibrant fall foliage, the mountainous region of southern Pennsylvania is a haven of autumnal beauty for adventurous visitors. The surrounding rural area is mostly untouched by tourists, so incomers can expect to feel at home among the sleepy hamlets and natural wonders of Pennsylvania’s hidden gem.
As the final weeks of summer creep to a close and temperatures gradually drop in the northeastern United States, fall lovers prepare for a cozy season backdropped by bronzy tones and stunning natural beauty. Whether your leaf peeping tour takes you across the cool Champlain waters or to the high peaks of the Laurel Highlands, the short-lived fall foliage season is one to be celebrated near and far.