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The Best Spots to Check out the Fall Foliage

Oct 04, 2012 03:29AM ● By Erin Frisch

The Best Spots to Check out the Fall Foliage

Autumn in New England means blazing red, shining gold, and burnt-orange leaves that cover trees and crunch underfoot. Of course, it also means hot, spicy apple cider, a trip through the pumpkin patch, and apple picking! But I digress . . . whether you’re a professional leaf peeper or just a casual enthusiast, there are lots of very special places and ways to take in the splendor of this season.

Peak foliage in the Northeast varies from year to year based on rainfall and temperature, but in general, the leaves begin turning colors in the north, and then the color works its way south starting in mid-September through about the first week in November. If you’re planning a trip to check out the foliage, you’ll want to choose your destination and plan to go on dates when there will be maximum color (check here for fall foliage reports). Here are some prime destinations to consider, based on the level of activity you want and how far you are looking to travel.

Alpine Adventures “Treetop Canopy Tour” – Lincoln, NH

Located near Loon Mountain, this company offers treetop zip-lining tours through the beautiful fall foliage of the White Mountains. If you’re not fond of heights, this may not be for you; but if you’re up for a little adventure, this is an exciting way to experience the season. A few different options are offered. For beginners, the Tree Top Skyrider option starts you off slowly and takes you on six zip lines and three suspension bridges through the trees, ending with an optional 40-mph free fall. If you are feeling more daring, the Skyrider tour offers five zip lines and five suspension bridges, plus an option to race your friends. And if you’re a zip-line pro, the Super Skyrider tour for experienced zip liners offers even more thrills.

Pack Monadnock – Peterborough, NH

If you’re looking for a little less adrenaline, take a walk or a drive up the auto road in Miller State Park to the top of New Hampshire's “other” Monadnock. It’s only 1.2 miles long, but the 2,290-foot summit offers uninterrupted, long-distance views, alight with autumn’s most vibrant colors. Climb to an observation platform on a radio tower to see Mount Monadnock, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and Mount Wachusett in Massachusetts. On a clear day, you can even make out the distant Boston skyline. If you’re a bird-watcher, go early in the season to be rewarded with some of the best hawk watching anywhere. New Hampshire Audubon hosts a Raptor Migration Observatory accessible to wheel chairs, and it’s staffed each day until October 31 by an Audubon biologist or interpreter.

South Moat Mountain – White Mountain National Forest, Albany, NH

If you’re interested in hiking to your leaf-peeping destination, South Moat Mountain near Conway, New Hampshire, provides a wonderful option. Starting at the Moat Mountain Trailhead off Dugway Road in Albany (aka Passaconaway Road), follow the Moat Mountain Trail for 2.7 miles to the top of South Moat Mountain. At 5.4 miles round-trip, this moderate-difficulty hike can be done in a day. At the top, you’ll get a great 360-degree view of the surrounding area, including a view of Mount Washington. You’ll also be able to view foliage far and wide throughout the White Mountain region.

Madame Sherri Castle Ruins – Castle Road, Chesterfield, NH

Looking for a unique spot with a unique photo opportunity? The 448-acre Madame Sherri Forest is part of the Wantastiquet-Monadnock Greenway, a series of trails connecting the mountains of southwestern New Hampshire. The main trail starts near Indian Pond to the left, and then slopes upward to the breathtaking castle ruins. The trail climbs steeply to ledges overlooking the pond and the mountains to the east and eventually leads to Miner’s Ledge, which offers a magnificent panoramic view of Indian Pond, East Hill, and New Hampshire’s mountain ranges beyond. If you decide to leave the Madame Sherri trails and work your way toward Mount Wantastiquet, you’ll be rewarded with wonderful views of the foliage in southern Vermont, close by across the Connecticut River.

Any place we forgot to mention? Where is your favorite spot to check out the foliage?

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