Leaf peeping in October New England

Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 05:25 PM
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Leaf peeping in October New England

I am not a big fan of road trips. Getting to a destination and spending a few days hiking and photographing is my idea of fun . If we were to attempt to visit VT NH ME in October for just a week or a bit more, can you recommend an itinerary ? We would like to fly out of Boston but are flexible about where to start our adventure. If RT from Boston is going to mean "unnecessary" driving we could fly into another airport and leave from Boston.
Can you advise whether beginning our trip October 6 would be too late .
Thanks for you help.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 05:34 PM
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October 6th is early peak. It's a great time for central NH. New Hampshire has the White Mountains and you can get more than enough hiking and photography done in that area. If you decide on NH, flying into Manchester, NH (MHT) is way easier than Boston.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2013, 07:45 PM
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In 2011 I went to Vermont the week before Columbus Day which is Oct 14 this year. I guess that is one of the biggest weekends for leaf pepping. I was already in Providence RI and drove, stayed in Woodstock, VT (I like road trips). They hadn't had a lot of cold weather yet so the trees were just starting to change. It was beautiful but I didn't get to see the vibrant reds even though I drove further north to Stowe. It was still beautiful for someone from the West Coast. On the way home, I flew from Manchester, NH. Very nice airport and easy to get in and out of. Of course there was a connection to get me back to California.

A few years before that, my daughters and I went to NH and Maine. We wanted to fly into Manchester NH but the prices were high and Virgin American had an amazing fare into Boston. It really wasn't a bad drive from the Boston airport and we stayed in the White Mountains. Absolutely loved the White Mountains (this was summer). I'd go there again in an instant. Cute little towns, Flume Gorge, I would think there would be lots of hiking and photography opportunities. Using Manchester vs Boston airport probably depends on where you are flying from and the cost of airfare.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2013, 03:12 AM
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Two years ago we were in extreme northern Vermont during the first week in October and it still wasn't at the peak for color. A lot depends on the weather, obviously, and that includes the amount of rain. If I were you I would keep an eye on one of those foliage sites that all over the internet.

In terms of a rough itinerary in Vermont anyway, I always recommend Rte 100 from north to south to south or variations.

You could also fly into Burlington.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2013, 04:17 AM
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You might want to explore Yankee Magazine's website (it's published in Dublin NH) and Jeff Folger's website http://jeff-foliage.com/ There's some good comments about "when is peak". I would suggest MHT as the easiest airport but if Boston has a better fare, it only adds an hour of driving.

NH's White Mountains offer a variety of hiking opportunities. If you get a copy of DeLorme's NH Atlas and Gazetteer, it will also have detailed road maps (including seasonal) and some hiking suggestions. One thing we haven't done even though there's a nearby viewing spot is watch the hawk migration in October. Here's an Audubon link
http://www.nhaudubon.org/raptor-obse...nd-new-records
The posting mentions first week of October as half way thru the migration. The Carter Hill site is near Concord NH. That might be a good place to start on a weekend and leave a visit to the White Mountains for later in the week when foliage traffic won't be as heavy. If the weather is good and kayak rentals are still available, there's an outfit near Carter Hill where you can rent. They will also ferry you to the Merrimack River. A half day trip is great. Despite being very close to houses and I93, you won't see any houses or cars while you paddle down the river until you get near the take out spot.

If you take a trip up I93 which cuts right thru the mountains, you can head over to Danville VT for the Great Vermont Corn Maze, then take Rt 100 south.

GPS and google maps is going to tell you that Rt 101 is best route over to the coast from MHT but the most scenic route is to head east from Concord NH on Rt 4 and then thru Durham, Dover Point and the bridge over Oyster Bay to Portsmouth. It connects to I95 for a quick drive north to Maine (which is just over the river). From Portland you can also drive west back to NH and end up in the Conway area of the White Mountains.

I think the key would be to stay in a place like Concord NH or Portland ME or Boston on the weekend. Do NOT travel north on a Friday or south on a Sunday on major hwys. Use a good map and find alternate routes/state hwys.

There must be hundreds of local trails that are ignored by tourists. If you wanted an easy walk and not a strenuous hike you could also walk on old roads in flood control areas near dams.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2013, 04:44 AM
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I think based on the last couple of years that October 6 is too early, not too late.

You can also fly into Burlington, VT or Manchester, NH as well as Boston. See what is cheapest and what has the best schedule for you. It is likely to be cheaper to rent a car at Manchester or Burlington.

Dukey is right about VT 100. It goes from the top of the state to the bottom and is scenic all the way, though the scenery varies from dairy farms in the north to woods and waterfalls south of I-89.

You will need reservations, and I encourage you to stay mid-state. VT isn't very big, and you can do day trips north, south, and even east into the White Mountains in NH.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2013, 08:39 AM
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Dukey1, sounds like you were in Vermont the same time as I was. Agree there wasn't much color.

Ackislander makes a great point about reservations. I had a hard time finding a place with a reasonable rate. They really raise their prices during leaf peeping. I was there during the week so didn't have to deal with the traffic as much but I know the weekends can be brutal.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2013, 02:53 PM
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Thanks everybody.
We are going to mull all of your good advice.
Wish we had more time than just a week.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2013, 03:40 PM
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We live in New England and LOVE the fall time. I have been noticing the leaf peeping happening later each year than sooner. Also noting the winters have been warmer too.

We live in RI which is 45 mins south of Boston. BUT the best place in New England I think with a place full of week long activities would be NORTH CONWAY, NH. 3 hours North of Boston. We own property up there and visit as much as possible a year. The Kancamangus highway is a beautiful scenic drive with tons of rolling hills and mountains and waterfalls. Then there is route 16 which brings you up through the Washington Valley of mountains and brings you to Pinkham Notch Base where you can find hundreds of hiking trails.

As far as time, in this area Columbus Day weekend is super packed. To the annoying point. Everyone is coming just for the leaves! You are much better off in NE visiting the week after Columbus Day weekend.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2013, 05:09 PM
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Best dates vary each year based on weather in spring and summer- and when the first killing frost happens. This had been late the last couple of years - but this year can be early or later.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 01:58 AM
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In general, 2nd and 3rd week in October are peak foliage times -since you want to plan ahead. Later, stay a bit south - like Western MA.

The time 2 years ago several posters have referenced was a weird fall here - foliage never really popped anywhere, going from green to brown to bare in a relatively short time.

Airfare to Boston is generally much more convenient and less expensive than alternate airports - even on SW since they are flying more into Boston rather than Manchester or Providence. It only a few hours drive to much of New England from Boston.

As a starting point, check out some of the popular ski areas for condos for rent - many of these places have become 12-month lodging and for your purposes might serve as a good home base.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 09:29 AM
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Thanks Gail. Yes staying in a condo and traveling from there for daytrips sounds appealing. Maybe Stowe or Stratton ?
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 11:57 AM
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We were in Vernmont just this last fall. Arrived October 6 and the color was beautiful. Two days later it rained at night and a good amount of the leaves fell but there was still a good amount of color.

For accommodations try Smuggler's Notch. It is a timeshare resort but they also rent by the week. It was practically empty when we were there. It was a great central point to make day trips and they also had some planned trips that you could take and not have to drive yourself.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 11:58 AM
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You can fly into Burlington. It is about 45 minutes from the resort.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 01:01 PM
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Sorry, I did not read every post on this thread. I just wanted to suggest that you fly in and out of Manchester NH instead of Boston. Much easier to navigate!! I do it every October, so that I can attend the "big" Boston GTG (get together) with about 35 other fodorites, plus do some leaf peeping for about 3-4 days either before or after the GTG. Driving IN Boston is not for novices, believe me. I've driven in a lot of big USA cities from coast to coast, and Boston is my #1 least favorite to have to navigate.... sorry, Boston... but you DO have a fantastic, lovely city!!
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 02:07 PM
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"Sorry, I did not read every post on this thread. I just wanted to suggest that you fly in and out of Manchester NH instead of Boston."

It had already been suggested as had Burlington, VT.
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 05:06 PM
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Boston is an old city that was never designed to be driven! Like Carol said, it's a great city but is unique in its ability to get even the most seasoned driver lost!

I wonder how many tourists arrive at Logan, rent their car, and then try to find their way out of the airport!
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Old Feb 4th, 2013, 06:14 PM
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Thanks Ackislander. I've now had time to read this thread,and I see that MHT has been suggested.

Jaya... laughing out loud at your comment about someone renting car and trying to find the way out of Logan. Been there, done that! Won't attempt to do it again....

Thank goodness the BOS GTG is always head around the edges of the city proper. It is easy to get there without having to drive into Boston at all.... other than dinner venues, but I can often get a ride with a BOS native!
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Old Feb 6th, 2013, 10:09 AM
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I agree with gardendiva. Last year, the peak color for the Stowe area seemed to be the week before Columbus Day, which was Sept 30-October 6. I know it varies from year to year, but we drove from Stowe to the White Mountains of NH, and color was fading by the end of the weekend.
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