Ask the Local: What about the leaves?

Local – I’ve been hearing about the leaves in New England for a long time. What are some good places to go for Fall foliage, and when should I expect to hit the peak season?
Leaf Peepin’, NI

Dear Peeper –
I’m glad you asked, since the foliage season really is one of the great things about this area.

I’ll give you some basic guidelines, and then my best advice is to rent or borrow a car and head out for a drive.

Now: Over the next few weeks, think about heading up to Vermont. Two of my favorite towns are Woodstock, which is in the middle (about 2 1/2 hours north), and Manchester (about 3 hours). There is plenty to do in both places, and you’ll have your fill of foliage. If you have the time, head out Route 2 West, from Boston, and then hook onto Rte. 91 North, and you’ll get the best of all worlds.

Mid to Late October: For my money, the best leaf watching is in Western Massachusetts, around Williamstown. You can’t miss the town – just stay on Rte 2 west until the end. Williamstown (3 1/2 hours) is the quintessential New England college village, and since they are farther south than Vermont, there is a greater proportion of leafy trees. You will see whole hillsides ablaze. A little to the south, and accessible from the faster-moving Mass Pike (2 1/2 hours), take a hike up Mt. Alander near Great Barrington for a very pleasant 5-mile walk in the woods.
Late October: The other great place to go is northwestern Connecticut (3-4 hours) (try Haystack Mountain, or head down around Cornwall). The leaves will hold on a little longer, since they’re farther south. It seems like a whole different state from the suburbs around New York, and you might just run into celebrities escaping the urban madness.
Finally, I’ll give you a few places closer to home – try heading just up Rte. 93 N to the Middlesex Fells Reservation, or just south to the Blue Hills reservation for nice views of the city and very pleasant trails. Blue Hills in particular can get a little crowded, though. Also, Arnold Arboretum, in Boston itself, is a great city escape. Last, but not least, don’t forget Walden Pond, in Concord (30 minutes), the inspiration for Thoreau’s Walden.

The key thing to remember is that since we’re in the city here, and close to the ocean, the leaves change relatively late. Don’t wait until you see the trees on Baker lawn change before you head out of town, or you’ll miss the best part of the show!
The Local

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