NH or VT for Fall Foliage

Old Sep 19th, 2011, 09:44 AM
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NH or VT for Fall Foliage

I realize that this may be a matter of personal preference, but I would really like to get some insights on the fall foliage in New England. I recently moved to the Concord/Lexington, MA, area and have family visiting in early October who are coming to see the fall foliage. We're slightly closer to NH, but I've always heard of people going to VT to see the leaves changing (though it may be that NH is just as popular, or more so).

What are your thoughts? Where should I choose? VT or NH? And why? Thanks!!
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Old Sep 19th, 2011, 10:04 AM
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There may be others who are more expert in this but from my experience riding through the New England country side in Fall is pleasurable to the eyes no matter which state you are in. To me, it's one of these cases where you have to forget about worrying whether (to paraphrase and old adage) the leaves are more colorful on the other side of the mountain. I'd plan my trip over a route that takes me along winding country roads that has the best vistas and scenic overlooks where you can stop and enjoy the view - the Fall colors will take care of themselves. You can find such roads in every state in New England.
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Old Sep 20th, 2011, 09:55 AM
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I would suggest keeping track of the colors' progress on Foliage Network: http://www.foliagenetwork.com/index....layout=default

This will let you know exactly where colors are peaking when your family arrives. As a general rule of thumb, early October should be prime leaf-peeping time for both states, but every year is a bit unpredictable. The higher mountain elevations usually peak during the first week of October, while the lower elevation parts of the states typically peak by the end of the second week in October.

If your family comes during the second week of October, you will probably have a bit more luck with NH than VT; Vermont is more elevated overall so the colors don't linger quite as long as they do in some parts of NH (e.g. the Lakes Region).

Differences in peak color timing aside, the choice between NH and VT is largely one of preference. NH offers arguably the more impressive mountain scenery, as the White Mountains are more prominent and rugged than the Greens. The Kancamagus Highway and Bear Notch Rd. are always stunning in the fall. Franconia Notch and Crawford Notch State Parks offer great mountain views.

Vermont's scenery is perhaps more bucolic and idyllic, with its plentiful red barns and green pastures. While foliage drives in NH usually involve dense tree-laden routes with occasional glimpses of lakes and rugged mountains, drives in VT offer more consistent vistas over sweeping farmland and rolling hills. Although the famous Route 100 and the drive through Smuggler's Notch are somewhat akin to NH's mountain drives.

In my opinion, it will probably not be a question of *which* state to visit but which *parts* of the states to visit, depending on the timing of the colors. If your family comes early enough in the month you could theoretically combine the White Mountains of NH with the northern half of VT (Stowe area, St. Johnsbury area, etc.). If the colors have faded up north by the time they arrive, perhaps combine southern VT (Woodstock, Grafton, etc.) with the Monadnock and/or Lakes Region of NH (Keene area, Wolfeboro area, etc.).
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Old Sep 20th, 2011, 03:52 PM
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In my 2 trips to the region in the peak of fall, I found VT colors seemed to be more vibrant, but as noted above they tend to appear and fade faster.
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Old Sep 20th, 2011, 05:57 PM
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There really shouldn't be a difference in vibrancy of the colors between the two states, although sometimes certain climate conditions can affect the colors. For example, areas that experience an excessively dry summer tend to have duller colors (which isn't the case anywhere in New England this year). Also, too much wind, rain and particularly an early frost in the couple of weeks leading up to the start of foliage season can have negative effects on the colors.

During the past few years I've noticed that the colors in the Connecticut River Valley were a bit less vibrant than the neighboring areas of VT and NH, but I wouldn't say that this is the case every year.
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Old Sep 20th, 2011, 06:49 PM
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From MA you can drive up Route 3 north into NH then it merges with 93 north just north of Manchester. From there you can drive as far north as you want. OR, you can take route 3 north to Nashua and then take 101A west to 101 west to the Monadnock Region (Peterborough area).

Going anywhere north of Concord, NH or out towards Peterborough/Keene will be very "New England" like and beautiful. I like VT, but NH will be closer so you can do/see more with less mileage.
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 02:50 AM
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I think you can see beautiful foliage in either state. Do check on possible highway closures following all the flooding. Vt has done a great job reopening roads and attractions in time for leaf peepers, but there are still some routes that should be avoided here, and I am sure the same is true in NH
http://www.aot.state.vt.us/

I live in north central VT and the leaves are starting to change here. A beautiful time of year
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 03:30 AM
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Trees are starting to show some color here, just north of Concord NH. There's some patches of red swamp maples that have been colorful for more than a week.

But, just riding around seeing leaves can get boring. Find some fun things to do, some places to stop whether it be Vermont Country Store (check road conditions) or a great apple orchard or place for lunch. We haven't done a foliage cruise out of Portsmouth but have done both the harbor and inland rivers during summer visits. Just don't try to drive south on I89 or I93 late sunday afternoon. Given the elevation changes, even I93 can be breathtaking by the time you get up around Plymouth.

You can get maps for the cheese, wine and ice cream trails for VT and NH. Check locations for hawk watches. Visit a really good farmers market (i.e. Brattleboro VT - see list of vendors).
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Old Oct 6th, 2011, 09:48 AM
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Thank you all for all of the really great suggestions. We ended up deciding to go to VT this time around early next week. Our "home base" for the couple of days that we're leaf looking will be in Stowe. Hopefully, we'll be in time to see some great Fall colors somewhere around there.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 05:41 AM
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Can anyone suggest a really nice motel or hotel near North Conway, NH?
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Old Oct 15th, 2011, 07:14 PM
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maribethp --
If you're seeking accomadations now, then you may not have luxury of selection ..... rather, may just need to start calling and see who has availability.
http://www.northconwaynh.com/hotels.html

Earlier this week I was in Concord, NH and after calling 6 different hotels (all fully booked) finally, was able to grab a room @ Courtyard Marriott for another family member arriving on short notice.
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