Summer’s over, and in some parts of the world, the crisper feel of fall is already in the air. One aspect of living in the northeast that I really miss is watching the leaves change. I went to college near the Adirondacks, and fall foliage trips in upstate New York really were spectacular. While I haven’t been to Vermont in autumn, New York fall foliage never left me feeling like I was missing anything! Mid-September through late October are the peak fall foliage seasons in upstate New York, depending on the elevation.
Leaf peepers in upstate New York are somewhat akin to birders; they track peak fall foliage seasons and compare popular scenic routes for optimal views of the changing colors of the leaves. The Adirondacks region has 12 scenic byways that are ideal for fall foliage travel. Road trips along these upstate New York scenic byways can involve stops at B&Bs, fall festivals, and towns with adorable New England style antique shops and museums.
Scenic Byways in the Adirondacks:
Black River Trail
Blue Ridge Road
Central Adirondack Trail
Dude ranch Trail
High Peaks Byway
Lakes to Locks Passage
Mohawk Towpath Byway
Southern Adirondack Trail
There are several annual fall festivals that complement fall foliage tours in upstate New York. These serve as tourist attractions, as well as bringing locals out to enjoy the fun annual activities their region offers. These are some of the annual autumn festivals that happen during foliage season in the Adirondacks.
Adirondack Balloon Festival – In September (before peak fall foliage, but leaves are changing already in upstate NY) Queensbury’s hot air balloon enthusiasts let loose more than 90 balloons. Their vivid, bold colors look especially striking against the clear, bright blue sky of the season. The Adirondack Balloon Festival also involves live music, activities for kids, and fireworks.
Adirondack Harvest Festival – In October, the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake celebrates the season with cider pressing, wagon rides, pumpkin painting, music and more. The museum’s other programs and special events are interesting for history buffs as well.
Flaming Leaves Festival – Lake Placid is already a popular travel destination, and this fall attraction adds to its allure. The Flaming Leaves Festival in October offers live music, beer and bbq, family-friendly activities like crafts for children, and – especially nice during this peak fall foliage season – an elevator to the top of the 120-meter ski jump. Views of Lake Placid’s fall foliage from here should satisfy the pickiest leaf peeper.
Harvest Festival – Long Lake, New York holds this festival in October, on the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend. American crafts at their best are on display (and for sale!) here: locally made furniture, quilts, jewelry, soaps, syrup and other American craft items indicative of the northeast are here, along with cider, apples, and homemade pies. And, almost needless to say, pumpkins galore.
Whiteface Oktoberfest – Less upstate New York Americana, more Bavarian, but fun indeed. In October, Wilmington’s Bavarian and Alps Oktoberfest has plenty of food and beer, dancing and other lively festivities, and enough lederhosen to make a Belgian blush. A gondola ride up Little Whiteface Mountain allows for fall foliage fans to get in some leaf peeping along with all those sausages and beer.
Leaf peepers who want to experience more than just the changing colors of the leaves in upstate new York will have a great fall foliage tour on any of the Adirondack’s scenic byways, with detours to enjoy an October fall festival along the way. It’s a great way to celebrate the season. And if you’d rather stay in the city, here are places to see the fall color in New York City.