Another Fall Foliage thread

Mar 15th, 2019, 05:49 AM
  #1  
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Another Fall Foliage thread

From what I've read, we won't be visiting at "peak" time, but this is the only time that will work for us this year. We will be flying into MHT around noon on 9/28 and fly back out of MHT around noon on 10/1. We plan to rent a car and drive throughout NH and VT. I guess the only real requirement is that we stay somewhere relatively close to MHT the night of 9/30 so that we don't have a very long drive to the airport that morning.

First question - will we really miss that much foliage by being there 3-4 days earlier than most recommend?

Is there a recommended "loop" that we can take? We both love scenic drives with stops for beautiful pictures, quaint towns, great restaurants, etc.

Last edited by joshuatwelch; Mar 15th, 2019 at 06:11 AM.
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Mar 15th, 2019, 06:36 AM
  #2  
J62
 
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"First question - will we really miss that much foliage by being there 3-4 days earlier than most recommend?"

It's hard to predict as it depends on a lot of factors. Summer precipitation levels & September temps being the biggest variables . As you go farther north there will be more color earlier. At my latitude in NY roughly the same as MHT it's rare to see more than a single sugar maple tree in full color by 9/28, let alone a whole sugar bush (cluster of sugar maple trees) changed but the change progresses quickly after that since we lose ~3min sunlight every day and that change in light is a main driver of leaf color change.
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Mar 15th, 2019, 08:46 AM
  #3  
 
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I live in north central VT and the dates you are considering could be close to peak. As noted in the last post, you will see more early color to the north and in higher elevations. There are foliage websites that can give you updates on where the color is best. This map shows average time for early/middle/peak foliage. In late September the NE corner of VT is a good area to concentrate on, and it is very scenic.
https://www.vermontvacation.com/landing-pages/recreation/foliage/folia
It is hard to pick a set scenic loop in advance.
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Mar 15th, 2019, 01:55 PM
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And, IMO, the colors just before what many people term "peak" include the brilliant reds that come out first and the abundant oranges. The yellows, which are beautiful, hang on the longest and latest. I have never seen northern areas of Vermont and New Hampshire not have great color the last few days in September. I think it's a great choice. Kancamagus Highway from Conway, NH, west; Stowe and Smugglers Notch, VT. Lots of scenic drives.

It is the busiest time of year in Vermont, so you can't wing it on lodging. Maybe a night in White Mountains (Mt. Washington Hotel); maybe a night in Stowe (Trapp Family Lodge). It's a whirlwind, a lot of driving, but that is what foliage is. Go Manchester to Mt. Washington Hotel or Conway where there are more choices of price ranges for first night taking the fastest route through the Franconia Notch area and go to Mt. Washington Hotel area (Bretton Woods) even if you don't stay there; then drive to Conway (next day if you stay Mt. Washington and over through Kancamagus Highway next day to Stowe, Vermont via Route 302 or go up through Route 2 (the quiet road from 302 at Groton thru Peacham to Danville is one of our favorite spots (maybe because we spent summers growing up there).Smugglers Notch near Stowe is worth a drive if you have the time and the weather, but you probably will need to double back to Stowe. On your last day, drive from Stowe, just play things by ear, getting off the interstates and find your own little loops, heading to higher elevations along the way if foliage is still early around places like Manchester.

And Welch is a good old Vermont name. Knew many of them. Even the state's lone Congressman is a Welch.
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Mar 16th, 2019, 01:49 AM
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The truth is "peak" is misleading. The amount of color is going to vary depending on factors already posted and what you like best might not be someone else's idea of best. Going north on I293 from MHT will take you along the Merrimack River's west side with the beautiful old mill buildings on the east. It will connect with I93 just a bit further north before you get to the Hooksett toll booth. If you continue up I93 you do right thru the White Mountains where there should be some color. But closer to MHT if you take side roads you should see early reds of swamp maples in swampy areas. If you choose to head over to VT first, I89 is actually very scenic. West side of VT along Lake Champlain is beautiful farmland but I don't think it gets color as early as NE VT and northern NH.

But, forget about color. I recommend choosing a great place to stay and maybe something you like to do like visit breweries or wineries. There are some wonderful apple orchards. Or perhaps there's some historic areas you'd like to visit. I would recommend staying in Concord rather than Manchester but it depends on what you'd like to do for your last night. Manchester probably has better restaurants but Concord has a lovely, walkable downtown. The Centennial is a posh place to stay but I've only eaten lunch there. The Marriott near Horseshoe Pond is off in a commercial/office area but is popular for walking and you might see some wildlife on the pond. There's a brand new Concord Hotel in downtown Concord if you'd like to park and walk to restaurants and window shop. (stores close early)

Should you choose the Kancamagus route (I don't care for the Conway/North Conway area because of the amount of development) you can drop down via Rt 16 and then go west thru the towns of Tamworth, Center Sandwich and Holderness (Squam Lake) and find your way back to I93. Breakfast at the Corner House in Center Sandwich is wonderful. Or take this route east then north to the Conway area then continue north over the top of the White Mountains and then over to the Danville VT area. If you want a good hike and some fun, try the Great Vermont Corn Maze. Choose a route thru VT and then back to Concord NH via I89. Don't miss King Arthur Flour in Norwich VT if you like to bake. You can have lunch there (cafeteria) but go to Simon Pierce in Quechee for an upscale lunch and visit to their glass blowers.

I agree that you need to book your weekend now. Meredith NH might be an option. It's right on Lake Winnipesaukee and near I93 to do the Kanc loop (takes about half a day if you don't spend a lot of time in North Conway) which could include breakfast at the Corner House on Sunday. Then do a loop thru VT on 9/30 returning to NH via I89 to Concord.
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Mar 16th, 2019, 04:07 AM
  #6  
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This is incredible advice! Thanks so much. Sounds like we need to get on the ball and start making some reservations.
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Mar 17th, 2019, 01:51 AM
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It didn't dawn on me until later that Tamworth NH has a distillery. It's a tiny town and somebody put a lot of money into this operation. We did a tasting which was fun but we just aren't hard liquor lovers (tastings are served straight and it's ok to share with someone) although I kind of liked a cordial. You can see into the distillery room and even their bottles and labels are fascinating.

If Squam Lakes Science Center is still running pontoon boat cruises, it's a fabulous chance to get out on the water of a beautiful lake. We went last Labor Day weekend and saw lots of loons and a few eagles. We haven't been on the Mt. Washington cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee in years. A boat ride gives you a break from too much driving.
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