Leaf peeping is not for the faint of heart. Yes, when you totally nail it, hitting the right place at the right time, those sweeping vistas of peak fall foliage can be soul-stirring, life-reaffirming, and truly spectacular. But it's so hard to know what's going on up there in tree country! It felt like high summer here in the city last week… who's even thinking about "nature's fireworks" yet? Here's the thing, though: according to various internet sources, these next two weeks are considered peak viewing times in New York and New Jersey, with southern Vermont and New Hampshire hitting its stride around then as well.
However, since autumn has been so warm and dry in both New England and the Mid-Atlantic States, many long-time foliage-watchers are gloomy about the intensity of colors and the extent of canopy coverage this year. See what I mean? Uncertainty abounds. Planning a leaf peeping trip is for intrepid spirits only.
The Best Places For Viewing Fall Foliage
That said, there are plenty of resources to help you decide when and where to go, such as Farmers Almanac and Go New England. Also, Time Out New York ran a piece last week on local leaf peeping, with strolling across the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie (above) seeming like a solid day-trip option. Rising more than 200 feet over the river with the Catskill Mountains on all sides, the mile-and-a-quarter-long Walkway offers ready access to stunning 360-degree views. You can even take a two-hour sightseeing boat ride on that stretch of the Hudson–think: huge estates, pretty towns, hopefully leaves in their full autumnal glory–via Empire Cruise Lines, which launches from Poughkeepsie. If you'd prefer to peep and drive, the Travel Channel has a list, complete with maps, of a few usually-lovely routes, from New Hampshire's Route 112, or the "Kanc", to Ricketts Glen State Park, off Route 29, in northeast Pennsylvania (below), which also includes 22 waterfalls to go only with its 200-year-old trees.
The Leaves Change in NYC too
We do, of course, also have trees right here in the great city of New York, and they too turn color this time of year. In addition to obvious peeping spots like Central Park (the North Woods, the Harlem Meer, and the Great Hill are all extremely pretty and usually under-crowded) and the New York Botanical Gardens (maybe on one of two Fall Forest Weekends there in early November, for a free guided tour of the 50-acre Thain Family Forest, pictured above?), you might want to check out Fort Tryon Park, home of Cloisters and pretty amazing views of the Hudson. I took the shot below during the park's annual Medieval Festival two weeks ago, but just imagine that view with fall colors. And the 190th Street A train-stop leaves you right there!