Oklahoma has spectacular autumn scenery, but New England is famous for it. Winding drives up ancient mountains, quiet roads over scenic bridges and picturesque paths along tranquil rivers make a tour of New England’s fall colors not just possible, but downright inviting.
Whether by two wheels or four, by foot or hoof, the New England countryside and its magnificent terrain of hillside forests, snow-capped mountains, steep cliffs and serene pastures make it the very picture of fall’s enchantment. Add steepled churches, weathering red barns and smoke-billowing farmhouses to that backdrop, and you have a New England that Ichabod Crane would recognize.
Northeast Kingdom, Vermont
It seems that almost every image of the idealized American autumn splendor comes straight out Vermont. Considering that at least 75 percent of the state’s more-than-9,600-square miles is covered in forest, Vermont is the ultimate locale to take in the changing leaf colors. And its Northeast Kingdom – the state’s northeast corner – features exquisite views of autumn-tinged shores at Lake Seymour, hiking trails (such as the Long Trail) and those traditional covered bridges throughout the valleys. Take an extra memory card for the camera and some ready cash for apples and maple syrup at roadside stands. www.vermontvacation.com
White Mountains, New Hampshire
If a trip to New Hampshire is in the plans – and it ought to be – visitors will want to consider the White Mountains, the northern range of the old Appalachian Mountains. The White Mountains are among the most rugged ranges in New England, and New Hampshire has designated a highway system that offers the best views of the changing flora. The White Mountain Trails is made up of two main trails – the northern loop and southern loop – along with a National Scenic Byway. One of the most beautiful stretches is the Kancamagus Highway, taking guests through little towns and villages that offer plenty of local charm. www.visitwhitemountains.com
Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
One of the best-known scenic byways in New England goes right through the majestic Berkshires. The Mohawk Trail, which winds through Mohawk Trail State Forest in northwestern Massachusetts, is said to be an old path used by the American Indian tribes for trade and other maneuvers before colonial expansion. The trail takes guests across stunning scenery and vantage points, including the Western Summit, affording excellent vistas to mountains in the state as well as those in Vermont. Other points of interests include the Elk Memorial (the trail’s highest point), Salmon Falls and the Ice Age-carved Glacial Potholes, King Phillip’s Rock (the supposed location where the French first planted its flag in North America) and other natural and manmade wonders. www.mohawktrail.com
Connecticut River Valley, Connecticut
A map of Connecticut reads like an Emily Brontë novel with place names like Essex, Glastonbury, Windsor and Manchester. These towns, however, make up the Connecticut River Valley, which flanks the Connecticut River from the Long Island Sound inlet near Old Lyme all the way up to Massachusetts, cutting the state in half. The Blueway, a new federal designation of the entire river, invites tourists to explore the region, rich in history and great scenery even more exquisite in harvest season. www.ctvisit.com
What does the seaside have to offer for autumn viewing? Plenty, as evidenced in the views of coastal Maine. The Acadia Byway, also known as the Acadia All-American Road, runs through breathtaking Acadia National Park and along a particularly scenic stretch of the craggy Maine shore.
From land and higher elevations inside the park, guests can see the Atlantic Ocean’s exhilarating, chilly wake. From the harbors, the shoreline – alight with fall color – marvels the senses. If crowds aren’t in the plans, check out the views from Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park, located west of Acadia. www.visitmaine.com
Adirondack Lakes, New York
No list of New England fall colors would be complete without a stop in the Adirondack Mountains of north New York, and the Lakes Region offers some of the most incredible natural settings anywhere. Home to more than 600 lakes, river and streams nestled among the heights, the shifting palette of forests are even more striking when reflected by the mirror-like waters. Plus, the lakes region offers plenty of opportunities to get out of the car and walk through the woods as nature intended. www.visitadirondacks.com
Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
The Litchfield Hills of western Connecticut is a region treasured for its scenic beauty, especially in October. Following the Housatonic River, guests will find everything from museums and covered bridges to tour guides dressed in colonial period dress. The region also is home to the village of Kent, Conn., renowned for its New England old-town warmth and shops that hearken to days past. As far as New England towns go, Kent is sublime under its orange, yellow, purple and rust canopy of leaves.