Leaf Peeping in the Lakes Region

Autumn has officially arrived! The air is cool and crisp, and the warm sun is shining on the bright colors of early fall. Some of the leaves are beginning to turn red, orange, and yellow as the foliage season gets underway in New Hampshire, especially in the northern regions. The Granite State has some great ways to see how the colors are progressing—time to plan your autumn getaway to catch those colors at their brilliant peak!

New Hampshire Foliage Tracker – The best place to begin is at New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development’s website, Visit NH. The site now has its foliage tracker up and running! The foliage tracker maps out the colors as they change day-by-day and region-by-region in the state. To find out where in New Hampshire the leaves are at their peak, visitors to the foliage tracker page can easily see the map view of the predicted color range, or click on an individual region for a detailed foliage report. For more information, please check out the Visit NH foliage tracker at www.visitnh.gov/vacation-ideas/Foliage-Tracker.

Fall Foliage Special Train, Meredith to Plymouth, Aboard the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad – The Fall Foliage Special Train departs from Meredith at 11:00 am and heads north towards the White Mountains for an approximately four-hour round trip. This route is only traveled during fall foliage season on selected weekends in September and October, passing Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona, and following along and over the Pemigewasset River from Ashland to Plymouth, NH. The train stops at stations along the way, and at the Common Man Inn & Restaurant in Plymouth for a hot buffet luncheon. On the return trip, passengers can disembark for a tour of the historic Ashland Railroad Station. These trains sell out quickly and are by reservation only, so be sure to reserve your tickets early. Tickets are available at 603-745-2135 or online at www.foliagetrains.com.

Fall Foliage Trains Aboard the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad – This 1-hour train excursion along the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee is an easy way to relax and enjoy the breathtaking view as it rolls gently by. The ride goes along Meredith Bay, from Weirs Beach to Lakeport, and then reverses back to Weirs Beach again. The train runs on weekends and holidays throughout September and October. For availability, departure times, and tickets, please call 603-745-2135. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.foliagetrains.com.

Fall Foliage Cruises Aboard the M/S Mount Washington – Cruising Lake Winnipesaukee offers the opportunity to enjoy some of New England’s best leaf peeping from the comfort of the famous and historic M/S Mount Washington. This 230-foot ship has several cruises to choose from, including Rock ‘n’ Roll Saturday Night, the Sunday Champagne Brunch Cruise, and the Fall Foliage Dinner Dance Cruise, where passengers can watch the sun set on New Hampshire’s largest lake at its most spectacular time of year! For information and tickets, call 603-366-5531 or visit the website at www.cruiseNH.com.

Driving Around the Lakes Region – One of the best and easiest ways to catch the fall foliage is to get in the car and take some of the scenic back roads. This classic New England tradition lends itself to spontaneity and fun adventures! According to the Visit NH website, a beautiful drive right now is east along Route 11A up by Gunstock Mountain Resort. Or catch colorful scenery along Route 132 in Sanbornton. Visitors might also try Route 109, 109A and Route 171 from Wolfeboro to Moultonborough where there are some nice bright reds and yellows to be seen. Bob Manley at Hermit Woods Winery recommends a drive around Squam Lake: Take Route 3 north to 113 east to Bean Road south to Rt 25 and back to Bean Road (about 25 miles). Also, out to Wonalancet: Route 25 north to 113 north to the town of Tamworth, past Tamworth on 113, through Wonalancet, and all the way back around to 113 and back to 25 (about 30 miles). Both routes make great bike rides as well! Scott Crowder at EKAL Activity Center (where visitors can rent bicycles) says even just driving around Winnipesaukee, going from Meredith either north or south around the lake to Wolfeboro, is a spectacular drive.

Here are a few key tips for Leaf Peepers from NewEngland.com:

  1. DO get lost. Carry a good map and get a little lost. With 7,401 miles of unpaved roads just in Vermont, there’s ample opportunity to find adventure.
  2. DO observe proper foliage etiquette. Locals use the back roads to get from here to there as promptly as possible. If you’re oohing and ahhing at five miles per hour, pull over when someone’s behind you. And DO ask a landowner’s permission before tramping into the fields.
  3. DO get out of your car, and walk, and smell, and listen. Foliage is the most sensual of New England seasons, from the sweet aromas of our apple orchards to the swirling of leaves and wind, from that first whiff of woodsmoke on a frosty fall day to the crunch of dry foliage underfoot. Seeing foliage is only half the fun.
  4. DO pick up a parking pass for New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest to avoid a parking ticket. Funds go to protecting the forest habitat.
  5. DO as professional foliage photographers do when composing photos. A single crimson maple in the foreground with a white church behind and a little blue sky showing will translate better than a 40-mile-distant panoramic view. DON’T forget your polarizing filter. The filter enhances the vivid colors.
  6. DO look for changing views. Search out roads with hills and curves, roads that meander through changing vistas of woods and farms and small villages. If there is a better combination than water and stone (stone walls, stone bridges) and autumn leaves, we don’t know it.

For more tips and info on everything autumn in New England, get the free Best of New England in the Fall guide at www.newengland.com.

For additional information on Meredith and some of the great events happening around the Lakes Region, visit www.meredithareachamber.com and www.lakesregion.org. And don’t forget to stop by the Mill Falls at the Lake website, too, at www.millfalls.com.

Carrie Reed
The Mill Falls Blogging Team

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