When autumn comes around, those of us lucky enough to be living in the Northeast area of the country are treated to a veritable feast for the eyes when it comes to the changing leaves. Travelling around the region, you’ll see all shades of orange, yellow, brown, red and even purples and blues.
You’ve never truly experienced fall until you see it in the Northeast!
That’s why so-called “leaf-peeping” has made the Northeast an autumnal vacation destination for many American families. Therefore, in this article, we’re going to identify the five absolute best fall hikes if you want to see incredible foliage in all its glory.
Of course, we’re not limiting our scope to just the Northeast, there are some amazing changes that occur in the west and parts of the south as well!
And even though some states have perhaps gotten past the peak, it’s not to late to get some leaf peeping in.
5. Aspen, Colorado
While not as popular as some of the other locations on this list, Aspen certainly earns a spot in our top five. There are plenty of hikes in the area, but one of our favorites is the Maroon Bells, one of the most photographed mountains in North America.
Also, be sure to check out any of the four lakes: Cathedral, American, Hunter and Crater for good fall hikes and great views.
If you can’t make the trip out to Colorado, you can check out one of their many live webcams to see the seasonal changes from the comfort (and warmth) of your home!
4. Lake George, New York
Lake George is known as the “Queen of the American Lakes” and is probably one of the most scenic little towns in all of the Adirondacks. Peak foliage times tend to vary distinctly from year-to-year but, because Lake George is higher in elevation, the region generally sees changes early so get there fast!
We recommend hiking around the lake area to see how the leaves look reflected in the pristine waters. Take a walk up to Stewart’s Ledge, a spot in higher elevation, to get a better view of the whole area.
3. Massapequa Preserve, New York
Often considered one of the most beautiful places in all of Nassau County (if not all of New York), the Massapequa Preserve is also one of the most isolated. When you get into the middle of the 432 acres that comprise the park, you just might forget that the heart of New York City is a mere 38 miles away!
At the preserve, you can walk, hike, bike, fish and more via the unique Greenbelt system. Our favorite is the Massapequa Lake Trail, which tends to be less crowded than the Bethpage Bikeway, and provides hikers with amazing views of the changing leaves! This is one beautiful fall hike!
2. Cherokee, North Carolina
If you’re late to this year’s leaf-peeping, it might be time to head south as changes tend to occur later, and oftentimes last longer, the closer you get to the Mason-Dixon.
Cherokee, North Carolina is unique because it’s bordered by two breathtaking national parks—the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park. Both of these parks provide hikers with pristine vistas of changing leaves.
One of our favorite fall hikes is Waterrock Knob. At 6,000 feet elevation, this place provides some of the most complete views of the park. By far, the Oconaluftee River Trail, which runs right through the heart of the Cherokee, provides some of the best fall foliage views in the area.
History buffs will get a real kick out of the collection of some of the oldest cabins and log structures in all of Cherokee, which line the trail.
1. Manchester, Vermont
Often hailed as the best spot in the country to see leaves change, it just wouldn’t be a leaf-peeping guide without a trip to Vermont. Manchester is located adjacent the Green Mountains, specifically Mt. Equinox, which is maintained by the Equinox Preservation Trust.
There are a number of scenic fall hikes to take, ranging from beginner to more advanced. Our favorite fall hike is the Blue Summit Trail. While it’s one of the more advanced hikes, it provides the best views of the area owing to its 2840 peak height. Truly though, anywhere you go in Manchester, you’re going to see the most brilliant fall colors in all of the country!
If you’re reading this and your appetite has been whetted by the prospect of some leaf-peeping, get out there now!As this handy map will show you, there’s not much time to take in the sights of the season. Even if you’ve missed your chance at seeing the feast of foliage, it’s never too early to start planning next year’s trip. Hey, the first day of fall 2018 is less than a year away!