New Hampshire Fall Foliage Guide | Peak Color, Drives & More (2023)

Please note that many establishments throughout New England have modified their hours and/or operations in response to COVID-19. Please check with individual businesses and organizations for the latest information before making travel plans.

Planning a trip to New Hampshire this year for a dose of fall color and fun? Our New Hampshire fall foliage guide is here to help. Learn the best time to see the leaves change color, discover our favorite foliage towns and routes for stunning scenery, and read up on a pair of don’t-miss pumpkin festivals.

New Hampshire Fall Foliage | Best Time to Visit

While every year is different, the best New Hampshire fall colors reliably move from north to south, starting in mid-to-late September and extending through mid-October.

Some of our favorite regions in New Hampshire for enjoying fall color are the Great North Woods duringearly peak (late September to early October) and the Monadnock Region during middle peak(end of September to mid-October). That said, you’ll find fantastic pockets of color in every corner of the state throughout the season.

Learn more about finding peak color in New England in the 2018 Yankee feature “Peak Perfection.”

New Hampshire Fall Foliage Guide | Peak Color, Drives & More (1)

A Conway Scenic Railroad train travels through Crawford Notch.

(Video) New Hampshire Fall Road Trip 2021 | Best Places to See Fall Foliage in New Hampshire

Jim Salge

Best New Hampshire Fall Foliage Towns

1. Conway/North Conway

There may be no better way to see foliage than by train, and in this part of New Hampshire, the Conway Scenic Railroad is just the ticket. Hop aboard and wend your way through White Mountain clefts and over trestles lit by the colors of fall. Conway’s many restaurants and outlet shopping ensure that you won’t have to sacrifice the comforts of civilization on your foliage trip.Don’t missthe chance to hike to Diana’s Baths, a scenic series of waterfalls and swimming holes.

2. Sandwich

Tucked between the loon-rich shores of Squam Lake and the forested foothills of the White Mountains, the village of Sandwich offers plenty of hiking trails, driving routes, a covered bridge, and an inviting downtown. Try to time your visit with the 100-year-old Sandwich Fair, which has midway rides, livestock competitions, and more.

3. Waterville Valley

Feng shui doesn’t get any better than the U-shaped mountain range that cradles Waterville Valley. The area is particularly lovely when autumn colors light up the slopes, which are dominated by the lofty peaks of Tripyramid and Osceola. Ample hiking trails invite outdoor enthusiasts to get out into the foliage.

(Video) The Best Fall Colors // Fall in New Hampshire White Mountains

4. Walpole

When filmmaker Ken Burns went looking for a home, he landed here, a beautiful village with a town green bordered by 19th-century buildings, with farms, orchards, and the Connecticut River for close company.Don’t miss the heart-stopping views atAlyson’s Orchard, which is simply one of the best orchards in the country. And leave time for a visit toL.A. Burdickand a taste of itsworld-famous chocolate.

5. Jackson

You enter this village through a covered bridge, and once arrived you may well feel as if there’s no reason to leave. Surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest, with hiking paths heading off in all directions, Jackson is the jewel of the Whites. Long known as a summer resort haven, Jackson now sees its inns filled with Nordic skiers throughout the winter. But this place never sparkles more than it does in fall, making it an ideal spot for enjoying a dose of New Hampshire fall foliage.Be sure to check out the Jackson Scenic Loop: Follow the signs from 16B by bike, on foot, or by car, for five miles of stunning mountain scenery.

6. Hanover

One of the country’s most famous outing clubs is here in Hanover, home of Dartmouth College, and for good reason: the lush landscape. If the Connecticut River, the Appalachian Trail, and the nearby mountains don’t put a spring in your step, nothing will. Or, if you just want to relax in town, you can easily spend a day people-watching on the college green.Don’t miss the Ledyard Canoe Club, where you can rent a canoe or a kayak from the nation’s oldest boating club.

Learn more about the best New England towns to visit this fall in the 2010Yankee feature “The Top 25 Foliage Towns in New England.”

New Hampshire Fall Foliage Guide | Peak Color, Drives & More (3)

The Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) in New Hampshire is a classic fall foliage route.

Mark Fleming

(Video) 2021 NH Fall Foliage and Leaf Peeping Trail - A Travel Guide with Tips!

Best New Hampshire Fall Foliage Drives

The Mighty Kanc

New England is home to many fine fall foliage drives, but perhaps none is more well known (or mispronounced) than the Kancamagus Highway, aka the Kanc, in the White Mountains. Fill up the tank and then settle back to enjoy one of New Hampshire’s best fall foliage experiences.

Lake Winnipesaukee Loop

This New Hampshire foliage drive meanders around Lake Winnipesaukee and Squam Lake, offering beautiful views of both mountains and water.

Evans Notch(Route 113)

If the thought of sharing the Kanc with hundreds of fellow leaf-peepers gives you pause, Evans Notch offers a quieter alternative.Beginning and ending in Maine, this route along the New Hampshire border is steep, winding, and spectacular.

Learn more about our favorite fall routes in the 2014 Yankee feature “Slow Drives Through Fall Color” and get more New England foliage trip ideas in our list of 14 Favorite Fall Drives in New England.

New Hampshire Fall Foliage Guide | Peak Color, Drives & More (4)

A tower of pumpkins at the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in Laconia.

Aimee Tucker

(Video) New Hampshire foliage map: Fall colors bursting across northern, western, central NH

Best New Hampshire Fall Activities

Pick-Your-Own Apples

Nothing says autumn like biting into a crisp apple — especially one you’ve just picked yourself. New Hampshire offers a number of excellent apple orchards, including Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, Gould Hill Farm in Contoocook, and Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon.

Foliage Train Tours

Watching the foliage whiz by through the window is nice when it’s by car, but something extra-special when it’s by train. The classy Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train in North Woodstock lets you opt into a five-course meal as you spend two hours traveling through the heart of New England, while the Conway Scenic Railroad and Hobo Railroad (out of Lincoln) offer more traditional scenic train rides. For the ultimate foliage thrill, there’s also the Mount Washington Cog Railroad. Hold on tight and enjoy the show!

Best New Hampshire Pumpkin Festivals

Milford Pumpkin Festival | October 8-10, 2021

Every Columbus Day weekend, the Milford town oval attracts thousands of visitors with live music, food, and activities likethe Great Pumpkin Weigh-in, beer and wine tasting, a craft fair, and a fun run.

New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival | Canceled for 2021

With more than 20,000 pumpkins stacked into a majestic tower, plus live music and fair-food favorites, the two-day New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in Laconia is a top New England fall event.

Discover our picks for thebest five pumpkin festivals in New England.

Best New Hampshire Fall Fairs

Deerfield Fair | September 30 – October 3, 2021

TheDeerfield Fairdates back to 1876 and bills itself as “New England’s oldest family fair.” It’s also one of the biggest fairs in New Hampshire, with livestock pulls and exhibitions, a demolition derby, pig scramble, sheep shearing, the Miss Deerfield Fair pageant, midway rides, live entertainment, 4-H exhibits, and all your favorite fair food.

Sandwich Fair | October 8-11, 2021

Held in the stunning Lakes Region, theSandwich Fairfeatures a midway, animal demonstrations and competitions, a skillet toss, and 4-H livestock talks, plus pumpkin carving, oxen pulling, and parades.

Find even more fun and fabulousNew Hampshire fall fairs.

(Video) Best places to visit in New Hampshire for Fall Colors (New England fall foliage)

What New Hampshire fall foliage picks would you add to the list? Let us know!

This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated.

More Foliage Guides:
Vermont Fall Foliage Guide
Maine Fall Foliage Guide

SEE MORE:
Guide to New England Fall Foliage Train Tours
Best Apple Orchards in New England
10 Places to Visit in New England in Fall

FAQs

What is the best time to see fall colors in New Hampshire? ›

Exactly when fall colors "peak" (aka are at their most colorful) changes a bit each year, but the approximate time frame for New Hampshire is almost always early to mid October. Be sure to keep checking Visit New Hampshire's Foliage Tracker and Foliage Reports to estimate when the colors will be at their best!

How long do leaves stay at peak color? ›

When do Fall Leaves Change Color. Leaves can change their color from as early as mid-September all the way through early November. Typically, the second and third week of October are the peak times, but it shifts depending on where you live and your local weather conditions.

Is Vermont or New Hampshire better for fall colors? ›

While foliage drives in NH usually involve dense tree-laden routes with occasional glimpses of lakes and rugged mountains, drives in VT offer more consistent vistas over sweeping farmland and rolling hills.

Which state has the most beautiful fall foliage? ›

Best fall foliage in the USA
  • Cape Cod, MA. When to go: Mid to late October. ...
  • Blue Ridge Mountains, NC. When to go: Late September through November. ...
  • Aspen, CO. When to go: Mid to late September. ...
  • Upper Peninsula, MI. ...
  • White Mountains, NH. ...
  • Shawangunk Mountains, NY. ...
  • Ozark Mountains, MO. ...
  • Taos, NM.
14 Sept 2022

What colors are in this fall 2022? ›

Royal purple, jewel-tone teal, and burning red are all trending hues incorporated on the Fall/Winter 2022 runways, each with its glamorous style.

What is the best time to see the leaves change in New England? ›

The best time to visit New England to see fall foliage is typically in late September and early October, though exact dates vary by state, year and weather conditions.

What is the fall color for 2021? ›

Color Trend Fall 2021: Vibrant Yellow

Like a jolt of energy, this electric yellow is the color we need after a dark year. And it's just as versatile as any other hue, from sporty separates (Victor Glemaud and Claudia Li) to elegant shapes (Proenza Schouler, Prada, and 3.1 Phillip Lim).

What does past peak foliage look like? ›

So, is past peak fall color, still beautiful? So, “past peak” means many things to many people. Most time, as the leaves lose their “peak” color and brightness, they will get duller and darker and they will either still be on the tree or they will be on the ground. Especially after a windy or stormy day.

Which trees change color first in the fall? ›

Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis) Grows up to 75 feet or more and is one of the first trees to change color every year. Their long leaves are yellow and they have bright yellow buds. Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) has mitten-shaped leaves that can be purple, red, orange, or yellow and it grows up to 50 feet.

Which New England state has the best fall foliage? ›

New England leaf peeping is at its finest in Vermont, where wilderness covers 75 percent of the land. Surrounded by more maple trees than anywhere else in the region, you'll find the brightest of yellows, oranges, and reds on nearly every highway and country road.

What is the best time to visit New England for the fall? ›

If you're looking to head to New England in late September, aim for the northern reaches of the area for the best fall foliage. The colors really pop in late September in Burlington, Vermont, and the surrounding area.

What is the best time to see fall colors in Massachusetts? ›

While the timing is slightly different every year, Massachusetts sees its best fall color, moving from north to south, starting in mid-to-late September and extending through mid-October.

What state has the longest fall weather? ›

#1 Vermont

Vermont's fall foliage season is the longest in the United States, starting in early September and ending around late October.

What place has the longest fall season? ›

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Resources, the Keystone State has the longest fall foliage season in the world. It is also some of the most varied, due to the state's latitude.

What styles are trending for fall 2022? ›

9 Top Style Updates for Fall
  • Wider, looser jeans.
  • Loafers with attitude.
  • A wear-with-boots dress.
  • A leather or suede skirt.
  • A blue sweater.
  • A chic shirt-jacket.
  • A leggings replacement.
  • Real pants.
8 Sept 2022

What is the trending color for 2022? ›

Pantone revealed in December that Very Peri, a blue-purple hue, is its color of 2022. The shade is described as a “warm and friendly blue hue with a carefree confidence and joyful attitude.” Very Peri is just one shade of blue Pantone predicts will be big in 2022.

What are the fall and winter colors 2022? ›

Fall / Winter 2021-2022 Colour Trends
  • Olive Branch.
  • Green Bee.
  • Ibiza and Mykonos Blue.
  • Adobe.
  • Illuminating Yellow.
  • Fuchsia Fedora.
  • Ultimate Gray.
  • Fire Whirl.

Are the leaves changing in New Hampshire? ›

New Hampshire delivers colorful fall foliage at the earlier end of the September-to-October range. In the White Mountains, take a scenic drive along the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112), between North Conway and Lincoln.

What is the best way to see New England in the fall? ›

The best way to tour New England in fall is in a car. In fact, the stretches between destinations are often the most memorable part of my trips. I like to take my time, idling along back roads and pausing at the many lookouts and viewpoints along the scenic routes that interlace the region.

Why is the foliage so good in New England? ›

In New England, a large percentage of trees produce a pigment known as an Anthocyanin, which results in brilliant reds and purples commonly seen around this time; a change that is particularly pronounced in the region's sugar maple trees.

Are bright colors in Style 2022? ›

According to this season's street stylers, the best fall fashion colors in 2022 are bright and beautiful, from head-to-toe oranges and zesty lime greens to classic autumnal browns and grays.

Is Lavender a fall color 2022? ›

Purple Is Fall 2022's Top Color Trend.

What is the Pantone color of the year 2022? ›

Pantone has announced its Color of the Year 2022: PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri. According to Pantone it's a vibrant colour that displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expressions.

Why are the trees changing colors already? ›

When sunlight and photosynthesis decline in autumn, the green chlorophyll, which is unstable, begins to break down and reveal the underlying colors. That means that a tree changing much earlier than those around it is breaking down chlorophyll faster than it is being manufactured.

Why are the leaves not changing color this year? ›

These unseasonably warm temperatures confused many deciduous trees. Normally trees begin to prepare themselves for winter dormancy by stopping the production of chlorophyll (which enables the leaves to remain green and vibrant) as the temperatures grow colder.

Where in the world do leaves change color? ›

Although some autumn coloration occurs wherever deciduous trees are found, the most brightly colored autumn foliage is found in the northern hemisphere, including most of southern mainland Canada, some areas of the northern United States, Northern and Western Europe north of the Alps, the Caucasus region of Russia near ...

What tree turns purple in fall? ›

An underused beauty in midwestern yards and gardens, sweetgum has standout, star-shaped leaves that start out glossy green in summer, changing to glorious purple/red/multitones in fall. The colorful show endures longer than most trees.

What kind of tree turns purple? ›

The most popular purple trees are the Japanese maple, purple-leaf plum, redbud forest pansy, crabapples, purple-leaf European beech, black elderberry, purple-leaf sand cherry, crimson king maple, purple-leaf acacia, purple smoke tree, and copper beach. What is this?

What tree turns bright red in the fall? ›

Red maple is one of the best named of all trees, featuring something red in each of the seasons—buds in winter, flowers in spring, leafstalks in summer, and brilliant foliage in autumn.

Where is the best fall foliage in Vermont? ›

Route 100. Stretching 200 miles from Massachusetts to Lake Memphremagog at the Canadian border, Vermont's Route 100 has been called the best foliage drive in the state — and even the most scenic foliage drive in all of New England.

Is Cape Cod nice in October? ›

Fall On Cape Cod. Dive into Fall on Cape Cod, also known as the Cape's Second Summer! After Labor Day, visitors can expect fewer crowds, warm temps, a chill vibe and fun outdoor adventures all the way through October.

What is the best time to see fall foliage in Vermont? ›

Typically, the fullest color can be found from late-September in the north, through mid-October in the south. Many experienced foliage viewers actually consider late October to be the most beautiful time in Vermont. Once the most brilliant colors have passed, the hills take on a subtler and richer range of hues.

What is the best time to visit New Hampshire? ›

Specifically, the best time to visit New Hampshire is between the months of April and June. The weather is perfect (usually around 58°F), which is perfect for a sweater or hoodie. Because the weather is so great, it's ideal for exploring the outdoor beauty that New Hampshire offers.

What do people wear in New England in the fall? ›

The Essentials You'll Need for New England

Pack lightweight summer clothing—shorts, T-shirts, polo shirts, sundresses—for visits between late June and early September, but be sure to bring along a pair of long pants or jeans and a jacket or sweater, especially if you're visiting areas along the coast.

What time of the year is best to visit New England? ›

The best time to travel to New England is during summer and early autumn, between June and October. Summer delivers sunny weather perfect for cruising and exploring Cape Cod, while the fiery hues of fall foliage make it a favorite season of travelers visiting New England.

How long does fall foliage last in New England? ›

The latter is the tricky part, since peak color is always a moving target and dependent upon so many changeable factors. New England's fall foliage season generally lasts about six weeks across the region, says Salge, “but usually only a week or two in any particular spot.”

Why is it called leaf peeping? ›

It's an informal term in the United States for the activity in which people travel to view and photograph the fall foliage (or autumn leaves that have changed color), particularly in northern New England and the upper Midwest.

Where is the fall foliage in Berkshires? ›

The Massachusetts stretch of U.S. Route 7 is well known for its stunning fall foliage. The drive we suggest passes through Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Lenox, and Pittsfield on its way to North Adams.

What is peak leaf season in New Hampshire? ›

Mid-September through mid-October is when colorful fall foliage rushes over New Hampshire, and it usually unveils itself from northwest to southeast. For a true leaf peeping adventure, take a scenic drive along Route 112 or the so-called Kancamagus Highway winding between Lincoln and North Conway.

What is peak fall foliage in New England? ›

In northern New England peak foliage is September and during the beginning of October. In southern New England which includes western Massachusetts, peak color is around the middle of October.

What is the best time to visit New Hampshire? ›

Specifically, the best time to visit New Hampshire is between the months of April and June. The weather is perfect (usually around 58°F), which is perfect for a sweater or hoodie. Because the weather is so great, it's ideal for exploring the outdoor beauty that New Hampshire offers.

What is the best time to see fall colors in Maine? ›

Generally northern Maine is at or near peak conditions the last week of September into the first week of October. Central, and western mountains of Maine are at or near peak Indigenous Peoples' Day week/weekend. Coastal and southern Maine generally reach peak or near peak conditions mid-to-last October.

How long does fall last in New Hampshire? ›

The Fall foliage in New Hampshire normally changes from North & West to South and East. Almost the entire 2 months of September and October there is peak fall Foliage in one place or another in the Granite State.

What is New Hampshire known for? ›

It's commonly known as the Granite State for its extensive granite formations and quarries, but also has three other nicknames: Mother of River, the White Mountain State and Switzerland of America.

How long does fall foliage last in New England? ›

The latter is the tricky part, since peak color is always a moving target and dependent upon so many changeable factors. New England's fall foliage season generally lasts about six weeks across the region, says Salge, “but usually only a week or two in any particular spot.”

Where is the best foliage in NH right now? ›

Best New Hampshire Fall Foliage Towns
  • Conway/North Conway. There may be no better way to see foliage than by train, and in this part of New Hampshire, the Conway Scenic Railroad is just the ticket. ...
  • Sandwich. ...
  • Waterville Valley. ...
  • Walpole. ...
  • Jackson. ...
  • Hanover. ...
  • The Mighty Kanc. ...
  • Lake Winnipesaukee Loop.

What is the best time to visit New England for the fall? ›

If you're looking to head to New England in late September, aim for the northern reaches of the area for the best fall foliage. The colors really pop in late September in Burlington, Vermont, and the surrounding area.

Why is it called leaf peeping? ›

It's an informal term in the United States for the activity in which people travel to view and photograph the fall foliage (or autumn leaves that have changed color), particularly in northern New England and the upper Midwest.

What is the cheapest town to live in New Hampshire? ›

The eastern town of Conway lands at the top of our list of most affordable cities in New Hampshire. Conway offers access to great New Hampshire nature scenes; enjoy boating along Conway Lake, or visit the waterfalls at Diana's Bath.

Is October is good month to visit New Hampshire? ›

Best time of year to visit New Hampshire

Choose May to June and September to October as the best time to visit New Hampshire. It has comfortable weather conditions with a load of things to do. Late spring brings lobster season but also rainy days.

What is the coldest month in NH? ›

The cold season lasts for 3.3 months, from December 1 to March 12, with an average daily high temperature below 43°F. The coldest month of the year in Manchester is January, with an average low of 17°F and high of 33°F.

Is October a good time to go to Maine? ›

Beautiful fall colors, festivals, great food, and stunning scenery – that's just a sample of what Maine in fall offers. If you're going to visit, October is the best time! Not only are there plenty of things to do in Maine in October, but the foliage is at its best then, too.

How long do the fall colors last in Maine? ›

Northern Maine (zones six and seven) is on track to reach peak conditions during the first week of October. Fall colors in all other areas of the state will occur from north to south through mid-October. Coastal Maine typically reaches peak color during mid-to-late October.

Is Maine a good place to visit in October? ›

Maine is a beautiful state to visit no matter what the season may be, but fall in Maine is truly stunning. Whether you want to enjoy the beautiful scenery, or take part in adventurous activities, Maine is a great place to visit during the fall.

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