The Best foliage drives aren’t always the popular ones!
At least not always! I get articles sent to me on the subject of “fall foliage” and related topics via Google news and this one from Insider travel caught my attention. I’m posting my favorite or best foliage drives below for each New England state. You can also disagree and leave a comment and tell us what back road or path you love to take… Maybe I’ll visit it this year!
The most incredible roads to drive in every state!
Well this of course caught my attention and I would say for the most part, their list is pretty accurate. The author goes through all 50 states and lists fifty which have been listed in other guidebooks or online. My attention focused on the 6 New England states.
My list may be different from theirs but is yours? I’m going to list both their’s and mine and if you want to play along, go to the bottom and leave a comment if you agree, disagree or have a different one altogether.
The quiet corner of Connecticut: Insider says Route 169 in CT is the best and I tend to agree with this one. To be honest I’ve never fully explored Route 169 or any of the others in CT. I usually come down Route 395 from Massachusetts to Thompson CT, exit, explore and then find my way west to 169.
I also recommend stopping in Thompson CT. I have found many visuals here to photograph.I know it’s not on 169 but if you are arriving in mid to late October, all of the smaller towns should be a big part of your itinerary. White wood fences, stone rock walls, and manicured farms can be found down any road you travel.
Traveling down Route 169 you have a few towns but it’s the little roads off of 169 that will lead you to all day explorations. In Brooklyn CT I found a wonderful church and I enjoy stopping there to see what the colorful trees are doing around this church.
From here the possibilities are endless and only limited by your time allotted for todays touring.
The Park Look rd. Well here they have me scratching my head. They choose a wonderful scenic drive but until late in Oct or November it will be woefully lacking in Maine fall colors. I would look at Route 17 north from Rumford ME. Along the way you’ll be greeted by many sites like Coos Canyon which is seen above at Coos Canyon.
From the height of land turn out you’ll be able to see (here is a mouthful) Mooselookmeguntic Lake. Then you can drop down to Route 16 and explore the town of Rangeley and the lake. Also if you stay over night there you can head west into New Hampshire on Route 16.
The Kancamagus: Who can argue with this one? The grand dame of scenic drives in New England and I think if you were going to do just one, this would be it BUT! I think there are a great number of smaller roads that will yield many views that are quite satisfying.
I think you should drive along Route 16 from Maine and then follow it to Caroll NH on Route 2. From here, follow 302 south through the White mountains. You will pass by Fayban’s train station. and at that corner you can follow the road to the Cog rail station and take the cog rail train to the top of MT Washington (hint schedule in advance!).
Also you will find the turn off for Jefferson Notch. Notch roads are little traveled and can sprout unexpected vistas when you least expect it. Make sure you have at least a half tank of gas because there are no gas stations up there. 4×4 is not needed and I did it my last time in my 4dr Grand Marquee. (It’s partially paved but not all)
Route 100: Who can argue with this one. They cite their source with a link to Yankee Magazine to back up their claim. Can’t argue there, since I was their first foliage blogger a few years back. I know much of what I know because of them. In my defense, I will state this: As many times as I have driven Route 100, It’s always after I get off Route 100 that I make my best pictures. There are beautiful farms and rolling vistas and if you know where to look a few covered bridges.
Along the northern end of Route 100 is Stowe Vermont. A more scenic town you won’t find, also one that is over-visited by so many tourists. I go there only to get through it and head out the other side and jump on Route 108!
Route 108 leads to “The twistiest road in Vermont” and Smugglers Notch. I like to get out and park and then I walk up to the top at dawn when the traffic is sparse.
As the sun climbs over the surrounding mountains it lights up the canopy of leaves and if you have a wide-angle lens, you can capture the feel of these hairpin turns.
Route 6: Now I completely disagree with Route 6. In the summer it is bumper to bumper with tourists. In the fall they have only a little fall color but it is a very pretty drive with views of the ocean. My choice is usually Route 2. Also known as the Mohawk Trail, it was one of the first tour routes in Massachusetts.
From Concord in the East to North Adams in the west you will find many wonderful little towns Like Erving. No questions please, just stop at the Freight house. It is many things but we stop there to scour different rooms for treasures (sometimes junk). While Lisa looks for treasures, I’ll grab a seat at the counter for a fresh made sandwich and then a slice of pie.
You should also stop in Leominster, Massachusetts which was the birthplace of the pink flamingo. Created by Don Featherstone in 1957, these iconic tackiness award winners can be found still today.
I love to explore the different towns both along and just off Route 2. When I hit Greenfield, I know if I have time and good light I can go south to Deerfield. Historic Deerfield is a living museum as a town. Homes dating back to the 1700s along with shops can be explored.
You also have the Yankee candle showstopper there. Not just a store but acres of stores with candles and so much more. Go into the Christmas tree room where it is usually snowing. Or see demonstrations of candle making. Yes you can spend most of a day just visiting here.
Ocean Ave.: Here is a tough one, I’ve driven this road with my friend and co-founder of the New England photography Guild, Butch Lombardi. As with all Ocean routes you tend to lose the forest for the seascapes. But this one can yield a few nearby, such as this shot which was only minutes from the ocean.
I first went looking for Rhode Island fall foliage in 2007. I drove down into CT on I-395 and then I went into Thompson and then I wandered east into Rhode Island. I stopped in many places and I was near to Glocester RI when I made the following image.
I would love to tell you where I was like I normally do but I was actually quite lost and I didn’t have a good GPS to help place me on the map. After much driving around in the dark I was lucky to pull into a town which seemed familiar. It was Thompson CT. I made a big loop and ended up across the border. So while I wish I could point to this incredible maple tree… One of you will have to find it for me.
Ok there you have it a few of the roads that I agree with or disagree with as the best fall foliage roads in New England.. Well what do you think?Jeff "Foliage" Folger You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
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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.