Whether you’re on the hunt for rare maples or just out for the pretty colors, New England’s last party before the long winter is undeniable Insta-candy. Here are seven brilliant routes to take.
NEW HAMPSHIRE’S KANCAMANGUS HIGHWAY
Call it the Kanc, if you want to sound like a local, and drive its 35 miles, starting in Lincoln, through the White Mountain National Forest in late September/early October. Be sure to stop at the C.L. Graham Overlook just below the summit of Kancamangus Pass, then picnic at Sabbaday Falls in Conway, a half-mile walk from the trail head that ends in a waterfall, before heading north to Bretton Woods on 302. There, you’ll be treated to blazing views of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast.
Stay: The Omni Mount Washington in Bretton Woods
VERMONT’S ROUTE 100
The billboard-free Route 100 winds through some of Vermont’s most quintessentially Vermonty villages, with all the cider donuts and country stores that go with them. For peak views, hike to the top of Mount Killington, then continue on. Your ultimate destination: The 11-mile Green Mountain Byway which runs between Waterbury and Stowe. End
MAINE’S COASTAL ROUTE 1
Start in Portland and head north on “Old Route 1” for one of New England’s most scenic coastal drives. Stop along the way in Brunswick, Bath, or Rockport (you can’t go wrong with any) for seaside mansions, lighthouses, and late-season lobster rolls; hit up Freeport for the L.L. Bean flagship. End in the quaint town of Camden, whose prime leaf-peeping vehicles include Merryspring, a 66-acre park and nature center, and autumn sails on the Schooner Surprise.
Stay: Whitehall in Camden
CONNECTICUT’S ROUTE 7
Northwestern Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills region is filled with village greens, rolling hills, and Housatonic river views. Start the route near Norwalk, detour through Kent Falls State Park—a hike that includes covered bridges and waterfalls—and then continue on to Woodbury, known as the “antique capital of Connecticut.” End in Litchfield Hills, a rural, classic New England aesthetic explorable on foot, horseback, or by hot air balloon.
Stay: Winvian Farm in Morris
MASSACHUSETTS’S MOHAWK TRAIL
The 63-mile trail, which follows a Native American trade route, runs east to west through the northwest part of the state, straddling the Berkshire Mountains between the Hudson and Connecticut River valleys. There are mountain streams and plenty of pit stops, including the Golden Eagle restaurant,
MASSACHUSETTS’S ROUTE 6A
Passing through several postcard-perfect classic Cape Cod villages, rural route 6A is a lot more pleasant with fall’s traffic reprieve. Start just after the Sagamore Bridge and follow the road through scenic Sandwich, the Cape’s oldest town. From there, roll on to Yarmouth Port and through to Dennis and finally Brewster, home to 19th-century sea captain homes and Nickerson State Park, whose 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail offers plenty of views to be seen on foot. Peak season hits late here, so it’s perfect if you find yourself looking for leaves come mid-October or even later.
Stay: Ocean Edge in Brewster
RHODE ISLAND’S OCEAN DRIVE
This one you can, and should, do by bike. Rent a pair of wheels at Newport Bicycle then start out on the Bellevue Avenue side of the Ocean Drive Loop, an 11-mile
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the