For stunning foliage, 'leaf' the beaten path
The Northeast's fall foliage dazzles locals and draws millions of tourists, but many flock to the same tired vantage points.
Those willing to venture off the beaten path will be rewarded with stunning and comparatively uncrowded autumn vistas — and some killer selfies.
Here's your guide to the best corners of New England and upstate New York for leaf-peeping, compiled from Associated Press reporters who cover the respective regions:
The Heublein Tower in Simsbury, Conn., sits at the top of Talcott Mountain State Park.
The 165-foot tower was built in 1914 by liquor magnate Gilbert Heublein as a summer home and offers spectacular views that on a clear day extend north to the Berkshires in Massachusetts and south to Long Island Sound.
Getting to the tower involves a relatively easy 1¼-mile hike up a foliage-filled trail that winds up the mountain with plenty of overlooks of the Farmington River Valley. There's also a nearby pumpkin patch where visitors can enjoy hayrides and pumpkin picking.
— Pat Eaton-Robb
Nestled in tiny Turner in the foothills of Maine, Ricker Hill Orchards combines two of New England's most beloved autumn activities: picking your own apples and admiring the turning leaves. The orchard's hillside "u-pick" area offers a stunning view of Maine's western lakes and mountains region, with views of foliage stretching all the way to New Hampshire.
The ninth-generation orchard also offers fall staples such as cider and cider doughnuts along with its apples and views. It's about an hour's drive north of Portland — a ride with its own superb views of the fall spectacle.
— Patrick Whittle
Most people associate Cape Cod with summer, sand and surf, but the peninsula offers some postcard-perfect backdrops for foliage.
Cross over the Sagamore Bridge and take the first exit onto rural Route 6A, which winds and twists through the scenic and historic town of Sandwich. The Old King's Highway, as it used to be known, hugs Cape Cod Bay and is lined with ancient stone walls, white picket fences, ponds and pastures.
Two worthwhile stops in Sandwich: Heritage Museums and Gardens, where you can meander paths bordered by stunning flora; and the Green Briar Nature Center, next to the conservation area where Thornton Burgess dreamed up Peter Rabbit and other characters.
— William J. Kole
Don't want to limit your leaf-peeping to a single state — or, for that matter — country? Head to Milan State Park, where a fire tower offers simultaneous views of the mountain ranges of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Canada.
Brilliant leaves in the foreground contrast beautifully with fog that settles in the valleys and the mountains in the distance. The recently renovated park, about 125 miles north of the state capital of Concord, includes a hilltop campground with a half-dozen campsites and four furnished yurts available to rent through Oct. 24.
Oh, and it's pronounced MY'-lin, not mih-LAHN'.
— Holly Ramer
In the southern Adirondacks, the stony Sacandaga River and a series of forest-rimmed lakes reflect blazing orange and yellow leaves along a 50-mile stretch of Route 30 from Northville to Indian Lake, where the Great Adirondack Moose Festival is slated for Sept. 24-25.
There are long stretches of unbroken wilderness between the hamlets of Wells, Speculator and Indian Lake, with hiking trails leading to secluded ponds, waterfalls and small mountains with big views.
— Mary Esch
For an urban leaf-peeping experience, there are few places more picturesque than historic Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island. Hundred-year-old elms and other mature trees provide a canopy of spectacular color over brick sidewalks.
The mile-long street runs past a collection of Colonial, Federal and Greek Revival-style homes, and several historic churches, including the First Baptist Church in America. Situated midway up the steep College Hill, it offers occasional glimpses of a more modern downtown, the Rhode Island Statehouse and rivers below. Above it is the main campus of Brown University, another lovely spot for fall color.
— Michelle R. Smith
The top of Owls Head Mountain, reached by a short hiking trail in the Groton State Forest off state Route 232, offers consistently world-class foliage displays.
With an elevation of 1,958 feet, the view from the rock face near the peak includes spectacular views of Lake Groton, Kettle Pond, Peacham Bog and an unbroken expanse of forest that in late September and early October glows red, orange and yellow.
While the more adventurous can make a 1.5-mile hike that's rated as easy to moderate, it's also possible to drive to a parking area near the top for a short walk that makes it an ideal outing with kids.
— Wilson Ring
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