Searing summer heat, hellish winters and everything in between — when it comes to seasonal weather, the Northeast sees it all. In the wake of the heat waves and hurricane season, and just before the “Blizzard of the Century” we seem to get every winter, the Northeast transforms into an incredible pallet of colors during autumn. Temperatures cool, leaves change and vast forests fade from a vibrant emerald to a canvas of gold, copper and bronze.
So, if you find yourself in the Northeast from late September to the end of November, make your way to one of these great vantage points and soak in Mother Nature’s true beauty (before her mood turns for the worse in December).
The Base of New England
As the highest peak in Connecticut, Bear Mountain provides a fantastic view of the surrounding Catskills in New York and Mount Everett in Massachusetts.
Nearest Town: Salisbury, Connecticut
Most Common Tree: Oak
Amounting to just a walkway built into the side of a cliff, the Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park provides stunning views overlooking the forest and the deep blue Atlantic.
Nearest City: Bar Harbor, Maine
Most Common Tree: Birch, Maple, Aspen
Find a Different Kind of Colorful Accent
As the highest peak along the Metacomet Range, Mt. Tom provides the best views of the surrounding wildlife refuges, National Forests and the Connecticut River.
Nearest Town: East Hampton, Massachusetts
Most Common Tree: Chestnut Oak
Blue Hills Observatory
Quite possibly the easiest spot to reach on this list, the Blue Hills Observatory and Reservation is accessible via public transportation from Boston.
Nearest City: Boston, Massachusetts
Most Common Tree: Birch
Welch and Dickey Mountain Loop
When talking about hiking through the White Mountains, “casual hike” doesn’t usually make it into the conversation. However, the Welch and Dickey mountain loop is one of the easier ways to see some of New England’s most famous mountains.
Nearest City: Concord, New Hampshire
Most Common Tree: Red Oak
Mount Washington is a serious hike, and weather at the top can be completely different from the base (so be prepared). But if the day’s weather is on your side, the view from just above the treeline is second to none.
Nearest City: Portland, Maine
Most Common Tree: Northern Hardwoods
To the West, you’ll peer down at the Connecticut River and Vermont. To the East you’ll see the rest of the White Mountains National Forest, and on a clear day, Maine.
Nearest Town: Newbury, Vermont
Most Common Tree: Maple
Dense Cities, Denser Forests
For those who think New Jersey is geographically featureless, they’ve likely never passed Newark. Mt. Tammany, and most of Northwest New Jersey, is as densely packed with forest as the rest of the state is people. Come autumn, the views of the Delaware Water Gap from the top of Mt. Tammany are something to behold.
Nearest City: Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Most Common Tree: Harwoods
The State Only Starts at the City
Breakneck Ridge is one of the most popular hiking spots in NY. With trails of varying length and difficulty, you can easily switch your autumn-time day hike into a weekend campout.
Nearest Town: Beacon, New York
Most Common Tree: Oak Hickory, Chestnut Oak
Black Mountain at Lake George
The road up to Lake George draws thousands of drivers and motorcyclists every year. But the proper way to do it is to park and hike up Black Mountain to get a bird’s-eye view of why people flock there every year.
Nearest Town: Hueletts Landing, New York
Most Common Tree: Black Cherry
Where to Escape From Phillies Fans
The Appalachian Trail is about 2,200 miles long, and of that, 230 miles run through Pennsylvania. Anyone who’s hiked up Pulpit Rock will tell you it’s one of the best views on the trail, and definitely the best view in PA.
Nearest City: Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania
Most Common Tree: Hemlock (with Rhododendron)
More Than Maple Syrup
Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in the state of Vermont, provides the best view of the deciduous forests below. Just plan on getting there earlier in the season than later; snow falls early this far north.
Nearest Town: Stowe, Vermont
Most Common Tree: Northern Hardwoods
Hikes for Leaf Lovers
Shenandoah National Park
Choose your trail. The park offers over 500 miles of beautiful forest to hike and explore and, being so far south, the vibrant colors tend to last longer than the spots farther north.
Nearest City: Harrisonburg, Virginia
Most Common Tree: Oak and Hickory