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The DOs and DON’Ts For Leaf-Peeping Season

Fall foliage in New England, primed for leaf peeping

New England Glory. Photo: Patrick from Barrington, RI, Moretown, VT

*Takes deep breath*

Ahhhhhh. Fall in New England. There’s really nothing like it. Leaves crunching under your feet, back roads, crisp air, and the full spectrum of nature’s colors blanketing everything in sight. When the colors reach their peak, there’s inevitably an influx of people trying to get a glimpse. Here are some helpful DOs, DON’Ts, and resources to keep in mind when it’s time to peep some foliage.

DO observe proper peeping etiquette! Just because the leaves are changing colors, does not mean the traffic laws suddenly don’t exist. There is nothing cool about driving 5mph when locals around you are trying to get to work, school, or to see the leaves themselves. Pull over (safely), hop out, and take it in. Everyone will thank you.

DON’T be unprepared. Clothing and footwear. There is an ongoing joke regarding weather in New England: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” A lot of the time you’ll wake up at 8am and need a puffy and shell. Then, it’ll be 11AM and you’ll wish you had shorts. At 5PM, you’ll wish you could break out the winter layers. Make sure you have all of your bases covered.

You can get your layering tips for insulated layers HERE.

Hiking essentials HERE.

Check out all of our light hiking shoes and trail runners.

DON’T be afraid to go that little bit further up the trail. We’ve all been at the trailhead before, mentally preparing to share moments of fall “solitude” with 50 other people. Go a little further instead. The view from up there is amazing, but taking the longer way down and going a little farther on the trail will reward you with moments of foliage bliss!

Take your leaf peeping a little further up-trail for the best show and solitude.

Sought after solitude.

DON’T be hit-and-run leaf peeper. Take the time to pause and take it in. We all know the feeling of trying to get to a few spots in the day during the peak peeping season, but it’s okay if you don’t get there. Take your time. Bring a picnic, pause for moment. I’d take a tailgate lunch with a view over 5 different peeping spots any day of the week.

DON’T be too rigorous with your peep timing. Think you missed PEAK at that one spot? It’s cool, the myriad of  elevation changes in glorious New England provides different peak timing all over. There isn’t one moment where it’s all leaf fireworks. If it’s not as bright in one place, it most certainly IS at another location. You can use foliage trackers to figure out where and when—HERE and HERE.

Glorious times on trail for leaf-peeping hikers

Take your time. It ain’t going anywhere.

DO wake up early. Not only does the fall morning dew add an insane visual treat, but bright morning sun + leaves = Epic.

DO enjoy the late day light show. Mornings have their special touch to foliage. So do afternoons and evenings. There is something extra special with the orange light of evenings mixing with fall leaves. Also: Epic.

Combine leaf peeping with camping for the ultimate experience

Fall camping is a bucket list item. Go for it.

DON’T be afraid to get wet. It rains in New England. Don’t let it deter you from peeping. Rain ruins peoples desire to get out there. If you don’t let it ruin yours, you’ll find solitude among the glory of peak peeping season. Get a good raincoat. We’ve got you. HERE and HERE.

DO use your other senses. Fall sounds different, smells different, and obviously looks different. Enjoy it all. It’s sensory overload in the best way.

If you follow my DOs and DON’Ts, you’ll have an amazing leaf peeping season. Oh, and one last thing. If you don’t know where to go, or want to try something different this autumn, here are some links to some goodies.

10 Iconic Autumn Adventures.

10 Best Day Hikes in the Adirondack High Peaks.

I’ll see you out there in a few weeks!

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Published:September 16, 2019

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