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Stress-free fall foliage trip planning

Massachusetts barn setback from the road with trees of yellow and green around

barn in fall foliage

I know, for me, that this is possibly one of those rock and a hard place things to try and write about.

My stress level starts rising in mid Sept as my northern friends in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, start posting their early fall foliage shots on the New England Photography Guild page Or my New England foliage FB page. I’m ready to go!

Since I live in a fairly central location in New England I tend to ignore most of the rules that I’m going to tell you to follow…

So, yes, DO as I say and not as I DO… 🙂

First, if you are showing up just to see the fall colors of New England, you could be disappointed. Mother Nature is a fickle friend at best. She loves to set us up for what I think will be a great fall, only to take it away at the last minute.

Grist mill shot with S3 cell phone #Vistaphotography #JeffFolger

Grist mill

So many people tell me “I need a vacation from my vacation” and we as a culture, old and young alike have taken to going on adventure vacations and running on trails or driving hundreds of miles in a day to view the fall colors in 12 different locations in one day, possible? Sure! But is it relaxing?

I have been telling folks the best way to explore and enjoy the fall colors is to get out of the car and enjoy an activity that isn’t centered on driving to find the colors. What I mean is do something like the Davis farm mega maze (sterling Massachusetts) which means you have to STOP, get out of your car and go through a maze in a corn field. Next you might hit their zip line and grab a bite to eat and if you have kids there are many other things to do also (check the link).

This mean you just used 3-4 hours of valuable fall foliage searching time, to do what? Have fun! You inhaled the fresh New England autumn air and maybe some not so fresh farm smells 🙂 and you generally did something you couldn’t do at home. This is the essence of a vacation.

Now if I’m planning this I can see the following 3 things:

  • 32 minutes or 16 miles east is the Assabet River National wildlife refuge, Small protected area with wetlands, forested areas & vernal pools for wildlife, plus public trails and fall reflections and trees.
  • 9-11 minutes to the Lancaster state forest, a Massachusetts forest located near Acton, Ashland and Clinton
  • 17 minutes or 13 miles to the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge which also will be beautiful in mid October.

I can keep going all day listing natural areas where you will see wonderful foliage and reflections within 20 miles of the Davis farm. So you can enjoy an early morning walk in a wildlife refuge and then hit the excitement of the farm and then an afternoon in another natural area. And you didn’t have to drive 4.5 hours mor like 1 hour for the whole day.

Blue heron #Vistaphotography #JeffFolger in a wetland in autumn colors

Wildlife with autumns fall colors

This is my goal for you, get out from behind the windshield and get in touch with the environment, the fall foliage. Feel the leaves crunch under foot and you walk along the trail.

There is no way to do everything!

So set yourself up to succeed by making simple plans. Build into the timing lots of slop… This means don’t plan to be somewhere exactly at 10:05AM, unless the Conway train leaves the station at that time, then by all means be THERE on time. But after the train ride is over (roughly 4 hours, 2 hours up and 2 back to the station.) Then instead of planing to drive immediately to Jackson to count the pumpkin people wander through Conway. Stop at the  corner and sit inside or out at the Metropolitan Coffeehouse.

Check across the road at Zeb’s General Store or walk down the other direction and visit the bavarian Chocolate Haus.  The point I want to get across is that if you rush from train to store to fall foliage location you really don’t get to enjoy yourself. You could pick a B&B in nothern Vermont like the Emergo Farm B&B and they have all sorts of things to keep you busy for a day or two and you’d never leave the farm! But if you didn’t you would miss so much. Such as...

This is also what I call Zone planning (click to read more about it). You put yourself in the way of the fall foliage and while you spend the day enjoying all these wonderful activities, the fall colors, find you, and they surprise you each morning with more and more fall colors.

Escape today

I’m done preaching on trying to relax during the fall colors. I’ll be out on the road soon searching out the fall colors and reporting back on where the best fall colors are. If you find some great colors let me know by hitting my Twitter feed @Foliage_Reports or post a picture from your phone on my New England foliage facebook page OR! New this year is my Fall foliage forum at

Jeff "Foliage" Folger  You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
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Jeff Foliage

My name is Jeff Folger,
but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as:
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff
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.
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