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21 Sept Fall Foliage report — 23 Comments

  1. Thank you for your comments, Jeff! I can’t believe how fast things can change within days. My biggest concern was getting accomodations for the peak but if it’s south of the Kanc Highway, would we still need to see that area because of its beauty? And the farther south we go for the colors, will we need to find accomodations in advance? We do like to wing it and find places along the way but without knowing exactly how far south the colors will be best in almost 2 weeks, it’s a real gamble to make reservations in places that are possibly past their peak. Thanks!

    • That’s why I say put yourself in the way of it. Driving 30 min north or south is not too bad.

      After the Columbus day weekend you can usually “wing it” but weekends will always be tough. Just be ready to take what you find and not be too choosy. If that works for you, then you’ll be ok.

  2. Good call on the Gazeteer! I do have a AAA map that’s huge but I have no idea if it’s detailed enough. I ordered it on Amazon just in case so thanks for the link. We are renting a car and I didn’t order the GPS. With the Gazeteer, will I really need one? Seems like overkill and we do have our phones so the Gazeteer can be handy when our phones’ cell coverage doesn’t work.

    My biggest concern is making sure we’re moving as much as we can but not at a breakneck speed to not “smell the roses.” Since you’re familiar with the Northeastern states, I’d like to run my itinerary by you to get your feedback and make sure I’ve taken things into consideration for lodging (which as you suggested), I’ll need to reserve before we go. Now that I’ve created it on Word, it’s so easy to change. Please inject any and all comments. As I mentioned before, being from southern Cal makes traveling in other areas incomparable.

    NOTE: My husband and I are active and love hiking, fishing, camping, kayaking so great rec. areas we’d love to know about.

    ITINERARY:

    Tues. October 10th – Leave Boston and drive to Salem to tour, drive to Manchester by the Sea and Gloucester and head up to Portsmouth to stay overnight (OR ANOTHER AREA LIKE NEW CASTLE IF YOU THINK IT’S BETTER). Total driving time: 2 hours 14 min.

    Wed. October 11th – Leave Portsmouth or New Castle and drive on US 1 to Ogunquit to explore and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and stay the night at Kennebunkport (OR ANOTHER AREA IF YOU THINK IT’S BETTER). Total driving time: 56 min.

    Thurs. October 12th – Leave Kennebunkport to on ME -35 to ME-117 to ME-113 to US-302 to Conway and drive Kanc Highway 112 to Lincoln. Maybe stay here 2 nights. Best to drive the Kanc on a weekday during peak times. Total driving time: 2 hours 31 min

    Fri., October 13th – Head north on I-93 or US-3 and explore Franconia Notch State Park and WHAT ELSE AROUND HERE SO WE CAN STAY BACK DOWN IN LINCOLN? Along US-3 and the 302 but we’ll be double backing to get back to Lincoln.

    Sat. October 14th – Leave Lincoln on I-93 heading north, north on US-3, north to 115 to US 2E to Berlin, north on 110 to Groveton. Stay here a night.

    (We leave on Tuesday out of Manchester and our friend from Boston said to try to go to St. Johnsbury in Vermont, if we can)

    Sun. October 15th – Head to St. Johnsbury, Vermont on US-3 and US-2 to explore around there and stay the night. WHAT’S THERE? Total driving time: 49 min.

    Mon. October 16th – Leave St. Johnsbury on I-93 S thru Fraconia thru Lincoln/North Woodstock, Plymouth, NH-175A in Holderness to US-3 S to Meredith. BETTER AREA TO STAY AND BE FAIRLY CLOSE TO FLY OUT OF MANCHESTER? Total driving time: 1 hour 23 min.

    Tues. October 17th – Leave Meredith to drive to Manchester Boston Regional Airport. Flight time is 9:55 but need to take rental car back. Total driving time: 1 hour 3 min.

    Thanks you!

    Trish

    • Tues. October 10th – Leave Boston and drive to Salem to tour, drive to Manchester by the Sea and Gloucester and head up to Portsmouth to stay overnight (OR ANOTHER AREA LIKE NEW CASTLE IF YOU THINK IT’S BETTER). Total driving time: 2 hours 14 min. [no downside in those areas so it’s a moot point. you could spend weeks worrying about the right one but this area is gorgeous]

      Wed. October 11th – Leave Portsmouth or New Castle and drive on US 1 to Ogunquit to explore and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and stay the night at Kennebunkport (OR ANOTHER AREA IF YOU THINK IT’S BETTER). Total driving time: 56 min. [same as above but being along the coast there may be more color inland]

      Thurs. October 12th – Leave Kennebunkport to on ME -35 to ME-117 to ME-113 to US-302 to Conway and drive Kanc Highway 112 to Lincoln. Maybe stay here 2 nights. Best to drive the Kanc on a weekday during peak times. Total driving time: 2 hours 31 min [sounds good but I will warn you that the color might be gone along the Kanc. You could adjust the route so as to travel further south or you can keep it and each day wake and go down I-93 to exit 23 heading east to the lakes region, Mount Chocorua, Sandwich etc..]

      Fri., October 13th – Head north on I-93 or US-3 and explore Franconia Notch State Park and WHAT ELSE AROUND HERE SO WE CAN STAY BACK DOWN IN LINCOLN? Along US-3 and the 302 but we’ll be double backing to get back to Lincoln. [be aware that the color may be more southerly at this time, they had 29 degrees in northern New England last night so if that continues, you will need to go south.]

      Sat. October 14th – Leave Lincoln on I-93 heading north, north on US-3, north to 115 to US 2E to Berlin, north on 110 to Groveton. Stay here a night.[You may find a leaf here or there but a whole tree with any leaves will be rare… Stick season this far north.]

      (We leave on Tuesday out of Manchester and our friend from Boston said to try to go to St. Johnsbury in Vermont if we can) [I would too, you can plan to co the Natural history museum and other historical things, but fall colors? I’m not thinking there will be any]

      Sun. October 15th – Head to St. Johnsbury, Vermont on US-3 and US-2 to explore around there and stay the night. WHAT’S THERE? Total driving time: 49 min. [For fall colors head back to Manchester]

      Mon. October 16th – Leave St. Johnsbury on I-93 S thru Franconia thru Lincoln/North Woodstock, Plymouth, NH-175A in Holderness to US-3 S to Meredith. BETTER AREA TO STAY AND BE FAIRLY CLOSE TO FLY OUT OF MANCHESTER? Total driving time: 1 hour 23 min. [There are very nice places to stay around Meredith such as Churches Landing and the falls at Meredith.]

      Tues. October 17th – Leave Meredith to drive to Manchester Boston Regional Airport. Flight time is 9:55 but need to take the rental car back. Total driving time: 1 hour 3 min.

  3. Thanks Jeff! Luckily, we are dodging Columbus weekend in New Hampshire and Maine and going right after, however, I still want to make reservations just to be on the safe side. I’m thinking to stay in the North Conway area and drive along the routes in your latest report along the 16, 110, 2 and the 115 and 302 back to North Conway. Because we’re from southern Cal, that doesn’t seem that far, but in terms of White Mountain driving, is that really far having come from North Conway? I mapped it and it’s a 3 hour drive which is nothing for us but are there tons of places we’ll want to go to along the way that it’s too rushed a pace? I just feel North Conway is a good starting point to the northern area on the routes you mentioned one day as well as along the Kanc Highway for the next.

    • That tends to be most of a day journey since these are not highways and if you are gawking then high speed doesn’t go well together with it 🙂 Also I suggest remembering things like lunch. Each town has a diner or even upscale quiche (I hope you didn’t think SoCal had cornered the market on that.. :-O
      Also, make sure you remember that it’s 115A, Don’t want you to get lost…

      Now speaking of that… are you renting a car and if so did you get a navigation package? I found out with my new car that most of the new ones come with a real GPS in them (doesn’t require cell service) and in certain areas, cell service can be spotty. So have you ordered or picked up a Gazetteer yet? You can get one for New Hampshire and one for Vermont or get a combined gazetteer for both states. Up to you.
      all those links will take you to Amazon so you can purchase them. Having them early means you can highlight the routes and see what is nearby those locations.

      I hope this helps.

  4. Hi Jeff. I really enjoy your blog and knowing we were going to be leaf peepers for the first time this fall from October 10th – 17th (we live in San Diego), I’ve started casually following you. Being a planner, I had every intention of following your advice of where to go and when, however, my mother suffered a stroke and I’ve been at her bedside for weeks (she has since passed). Needless to say, I’m way behind in my planning and all I have at this point are plane tickets to Boston for 3 before Oct. 10th (always wanted to see it). I’ve yet to book the rental car from Boston, where to drive and stay, and where to fly back home from. Originally, we were going to Vermont and New Hamsphire but 2 friends said to go to Maine and New Hampshire and not go to Vermont. I know the Kancamagus Highway is a must but I’m very concerned about if we’ll find vacancies for accomodations at this late date. Do you know? Can you please help me focus on which 2 states to enjoy for fall foliage so we’re not driving too much? My husband and I are active and love hiking so anything that you know to incorporate that as well we’d appreciate. Thanks! Trish

    • I’m sorry to hear of your loss, it’s never an easy thing. It would have been more fun to show her the pictures afterward. I suggest trying out New Hampshire and either Maine or Vermont. All 3 can be done but it means you stretch yourself thin. Also, you will be driving all day. That said the 9th in Columbus day weekend so from Friday the 6th to the 8th/9th traffic will be a bear in Vermont and New Hampshire and to a lesser degree Maine.
      But of bigger importance is the reservations. That weekend is most likely booked in the majority of places in NH and VT. So if you have to use your tickets before the 9th then you will need to look hard for someplace to sleep.
      After Monday things get much easier and you should be able to get into many places without reservations but on Fri-Sun I always suggest reservations.
      So I would start working on where you can find to stay then worry more about routes later. Routes are easy as once the leaves really start to turn then all roads and lanes become scenic byways…

  5. Thanks so much Jeff for your report about your recent road trip—I am headed to Rutland-Rochester area of Vermont this wed the 27th—would love to hear what you know of color in area and any special places to see–I know you are busy but any few lines would be so greatly appreciated as I have never been in this area—thanks so much Michele

  6. Thanks for the report.I’m looking forward to arrive in the end of this month,and drive North from Boston.
    Lasse Denmark.

  7. Jeff, do you cover Adirondacks area also also ?
    We are visiting next weekend (for 5 days), seems like we are bit early for peak colors in VT. Seeing current situation, for backup, will be good idea to split my stay between Adirondacks/Lake Placid area and St.Johnsbury area ? I read that it would be on peak. I am flying in BOS airport, so it would be long drive from BOS to Adirondacks, but if worth, I can. What do you say from colors as well as photographic point of view ?

  8. Thanks Jeff.
    Will wait for couple of days more, when we can see more accurate weather forecasts.

  9. I find myself every day hoping to see a message from you in my inbox. We will fly into Connecticut on October 10, then on to Vermont, New Hampshire [driving the Kanc] and southern Maine the next few days. Reading your comments and descriptions make me feel anxious and excited to get started and fill me with hope that we will see beautiful, vibrant autumn colors. I don’t know exactly why we love to see those leaves change colors, but we definitely do. I lived in Connecticut for seven years a long time ago and many times, I would pull over to the side of the road to sit and stare at a tree, its magnificent color taking my breath away. Thank you so much for your messages . . and, also, for your humor. LOVE your humor. You make my day.

  10. The weather in Rochester, NH is showing sun and 80’s Saturday through Tuesday with a high of 86 on Sunday! But we are seacoast region so the upper elevations will be lower I am sure. We moved out trip up north to Sept 29-Oct 2. I am hoping we have some nice color then. We will be staying up in Lunenburg, VT and driving to the NEK and Northwoods if needed! Thanks for your reports! 🙂

  11. Thanks for report Jeff. Take well rest 🙂
    We are exactly one week far from travel now (9/28 to 10/2). Being coming from West coast, I want to make sure, if I am reaching at ‘nice’ time.
    I will follow amost same route (St.Johnsbury, Lyndon, Lake Willoughby, North Troy, Jay, Montgomery Center, Hazen’s Notch, Lowell, St.Johnsbury and later days towards Peacham and White mountain area).
    What is your opinion on our dates and routes ? In worst case, I would re-boot my flight (with penalty) for 10/12 to 10/16, which is only available date for us.
    Hearing all this temperature change, possible rain, is making me nervous. In one other forum, I read “As a matter of fact, starting Saturday, we will have temperatures near 90 through Tuesday and mid 80s through Thursday! I checked the forecast for VT on WCAX and the degree difference is minimal! 90’s doesn’t sit well with me at this point”. With all these bad news (and little good one), my important concern is, Will I see peak anywhere during my dates ? Not looking for concrete answer, but an expert’s opinion.

    • I don’t know where someone is pulling 90 from this weekend I saw 80 but no 90s. It’s a high of 62 today in Salem Mass. So our temps are all over the place with this trip depression just off the coast and with Maria heading north I’m not sure what the weather will be. If the rain clears out your early dates should be good. If it doesn’t than the later ones will make more sense.

  12. Great report .”kanc ” overlook looks subdued still as with other areas.Will have to see what another week brings. Thanks for driving all those miles to bring us this

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