Mother Nature can be a temperamental artist.
Between September and November, she cracks open her autumnal paint box and colors foliage in blazing strokes of red, yellow, orange and purple. She likes coloring outside the lines, too, sweeping her brush beyond New England’s hallowed haunts up into Canada and down through several Southern states.
Dedicated leaf-peepers can chase the seasonal color as autumn somersaults from north to south, linking worthy pit stops to create an extended experience. So pack a sweater, grab a pumpkin spice latte and set out to find fall.
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Fast-forward into color amid Canada’s Laurentian Mountains, just north of Montreal in the French-speaking province of Quebec. Complete with sugar maples sporting leaves as red as those on the Canadian flag, these slopes start glowing around mid-September.
Savor a gondola ride to the summit of Mont-Tremblant, the area’s famous ski village, where endless vistas and hiking trails await. For a true adventure, Mont-Tremblant National Park promises a via ferrata (think hiking meets rock climbing on a tethered course) that will blow your autumn-loving mind.
Canada’s longest linear park – perfect for biking – winds through the Laurentians, exposing one scenic hamlet after another, while the Chemin du Terroir (Path of the Soil) drive highlights culinary treasures. Plus, you can commune with nature in roosts ranging from spas to yurts.
Only 90 minutes north of Manhattan, New York’s Shawangunk Mountains, affectionately called the Gunks, contain a ridgeline of white-quartz conglomerate that makes colors pop come mid-October. To trek the flat ridge, which showcases foliage sprawled across two valleys and the nearby Catskill Mountains, hikers scramble past blueberry bushes that blaze like fire pits. Rock climbers adore the cliffs, while amblers favor carriageways that meander through sun-shafted forests.
Mohonk Mountain House sits in perfect repose overlooking one of these glacially carved gems. Boasting countless rocking chairs and trails dotted with charming “summerhouses,” it’s an enviable autumn nest. For more leaf-peeping, drive the 88-mile Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway featuring lookout points, quaint towns and U-pick farms.
A Smoky Palette
Fall foliage lingers into November in the Smoky Mountains, where the peeping season spans several weeks. Stroll through Gatlinburg, Tenn., a historic outpost at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and eye the rippled horizon from the Space Needle.
Explore Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a 6-mile circuit with almost as many twists and turns as its namesake creek, and hike to leaf-strewn Grotto Falls, where you can walk behind its watery curtain. Bunk in a mountainside cabin or the vista-blessed DreamMore Resort.