The questions started early this year!
Each year I get questions on my opinion about your itineraries. But I have my own… Is your foliage itinerary wearing you out?
The answer below is my classic answer. Here is my short answer: park your self in a central location, travel less and enjoy more. Below is the long answer.. 🙂
Mary asked me…
My husband and I are in the midst of planning a road trip to New England to soak in the beauty of autumn in New England. With the tremendous help of Yankee magazine past issues that focus of fall foliage and with time limits (up to 7 days actually in New England), we have narrowed our trip to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. We have outlined suggested itineraries on a map and are now at the point that we need to connect the dots, so that we can come up with a schedule and make reservations for lodging. Would you look at the itineraries below and comment on the best order in which to travel them, suggested locations for overnight lodging, the best routes to move from Vermont to New Hampshire and on to Maine and the best dates to see the fall colors in these locations. We will be traveling by car from Tennessee and imagine we would first enter Vermont via I91. Also, would you comment on the length of time you think it will take take, once we arrive in Vermont, to cover these areas. Please feel free to make suggestions as to changes in what we have planned so far. Your input will be greatly appreciated!!!
Vermont: Route 100 from south to north; Interstate 91 or local roads along Connecticutt River; Route 4 from I91 to Route 100(Woodstock); Route 7A (Bennington to Manchester); Route 123 to 119 ( Marlowe to Fitzwilliam); Route 73 (Brandon Gap); Rooute 125 (Middlebury Gap); Route 17 (Appalachian Gap); Route 15 (Hyde Park to Jericho); Route 7 (Charlotte, Shelburne, and Burlington); Route 58 (Montgomery to Westmore)
New Hampshire: Route 302 (Bethelehem to Conway); Route 112 (Lincoln to Conway); I93 (Plymouth to Franconia); Route 16 ( Gorham to Jackson) ;Route 49 (Waterville Valley Lake Winnipesaukee region to include Sandwich, Tamworth, Wellborn (not sure best route)
Maine: Route 1 (Bar Harbor to Maine/NH border); Route 302 (Fryeburn to Portland); Route 113 (Fryeburg to Gilead); Route 26 (Eroll, NH to Bethel); Route 201 (Jackman to Solon); Eastport? Rangley?
What I had to say…
Fall foliage color development in autumn
First those are some GREAT routes you have listed! To be honest it would take me the entire month of October to do those routes for one simple reason. They rarely if ever turn all at the same time. So I would hit one route one day, then a few days later hit another. This is one thing to keep in mind, the color is a flow like someone dumped a can of multi-hued paint out onto a bas–relief map of New England. The paint will splatter some areas where color will develop independently of the surrounding areas. Then in other areas the color will fill in whole patches of the map. This is my version of how to look at the fall foliage season in New England.
Your driving plan
Historically the first week in October the color will only be in northern VT, NH, ME. So you can minimize your time in the southern portions of those states. Your plans should aim to get you into the northern area of VT or NH and then explore from there.
Now, 7 days and three states is very doable BUT this is if you really enjoy staying in the car (A LOT)! I think you should plan to cut back on the driving a bit and take the time to get out and explore. If you like to explore general stores or antique shops then you will need to take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour… (depends on what you like) How about lunches? In the car or will you want to try the eclectic luncheonettes that you will find in any and every little town? That’s at least 30 minutes or an hour… (Hell, what about morning coffee and bagels or hot sandwiches or donuts?).
Now! do you just get out of your car and look at the fall colors or do you like to photograph and compose your shots? (check jeff-foliage.com for more details on this). A year or two back I drove from St Albans VT down route 7 to the Sturbridge village area of Massachusetts. Now before you say, well that means we can cover a similar distance in a day, let me give you the details and you decide.
Let me put this into perspective we left at 7:30 in the morning and made maybe three short stops for photo ops then I stopped at a farm near Danby VT to photograph the barn and surrounding area (here is a link to a shot of the barn)After this we drove like the wind and had fast food dinner at Bennington. Then we drove into the night arriving at out B&B where we spent the next couple of days. (13-14 hours of travel time, you up for that?)
So Route 7 took us the better part of one day and your plan or desire to hit 2-4 of the major routes in VT let alone NH and ME will depend entirely on you.
Here’s my recommendation and it’s entirely up to you too try my toned back version listed below or blend it with your own desires.
First I’m hoping that last year was an aberration where the color didn’t really develop until after Columbus day (the day after to be exact) Now on a good year where the weather cooperates, we will have cold nights and warm sunny days starting in mid to late September .
On the start dates 1-7th of October you will want to be in the mid to upper third of either Vermont or NH.
If you come in 90 and then jump off on route 7 and head north into VT. You can stop at the Silas Griffith Inn. I’d rate it comfortable and reasonable (Danby VT) a short way north of there you could head east over the Green Mountains and catch route 100 and take that up to Stowe. Once in this area you have many scenic routes/options to take and a dozen or more covered bridges to view. A little touristy in Stowe so you could go over to the Northeast kingdom and stay a few nights at Emergo Farm B&B. I haven’t stayed there yet but I have several friends who spend the majority of every year at their establishment. They have never regretted staying there.
I would say a reasonable amount of time to really explore AND enjoy just this portion is 3 days. Now depending on what the fall weather is doing you could travel over into NH and the sugar hill area and my recommendation is any of the B&Bs or Inns in the area and I’m sure they will all be very nice.
The reason I pick this location is this… On a good year the color will be all around you. On a so-so year and if the color is late you can drive north east into northern NH to find color or if the year has moved more quickly you can just as easily drive south into the white mountains and explore that area. You are either in it or equidistant from it, depending on what the foliage season hands you.
I hope this helpsJeff "Foliage" Folger You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
- My Gallery on Fine Art America
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but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as: http://www.4cornersnewengland.com/
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff Foliage.com.
I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
Feel free to visit me on my blogs and see what life in New England is like.
I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.