Foliage season in New England is iconic. It can be otherworldly, awe-inspiring, and just a bit fickle – the timing of its arrival and the vibrancy of the colors depend on a complicated slew of factors, including the length and temperature of a day, how much rain we received during the summertime, La Niña, et cetera. But luckily, there are ways to predict foliage conditions for the year, and some things, like what to pack, never change. Here is our guide for autumn 2022.
Maine is the first state to see peak fall foliage. By now, in mid-September, northern Maine will have already reached its mid-peak. By the first week of October, colors are expected to reach their peak throughout the state. For Vermont, like Maine, the sweet spot lies during the first full week of October.
New Hampshire is the last of the northern New England states to peak. It is expected to peak around Columbus Day weekend, so the second weekend in October.
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut will all peak at approximately the same time – the third weekend of October.
By the fourth and fifth weekends in October, all foliage will be considered in its “late” stage, and most leaves are likely to have fallen. Be sure to plan the timing of your trip accordingly.
What to Pack
Prepare for cool evenings with a sweater, sweatshirt, long pants and sleeves.
Bring sturdy shoes or hiking boots to wander dirt road or meadows. This is not flip-flop country.
Bring ponchos and walk in the drizzle or rain – wetness can make the colors pop!
Bring camera, batteries, bug spray (even though this is not a bug-heavy season), sunscreen
Bring a lunch bag – lots of country stores can sell you sandwiches and treats. Bring a picnic blanket for impromptu side-of-the-road stops
Making an Itinerary
For a driving trip – the best way to see foliage – even a week is not enough time to cover all of New England, especially because foliage visitors should get off the major highways and onto state and local roads.
The solution is to get acquainted with the states and their regions, and to pinpoint a manageable area for your New England fall foliage trip. You may want to pick as a starting point a city or town, national park, mountain or coastal region, natural attraction, or an established drive tour, and expand your travel plans from that point.
As you plan your route, be sure to include the more scenic byways and routes, such as the famous Kancamagus Scenic Byway in New Hampshire.
When driving, be considerate of others. Pull all the way off the road if you want to stop for a moment of viewing or picture-snapping. Respect “posted” signs but don’t be afraid to wander. Take a road map and explore some of the back roads. Look for roadside signs for farm stands, parks, and public wilderness areas. Drive to the farm or park, get out and stretch, and look around. Ask local people at the gas station or restaurants where to find good vistas.