While the changing colors of fall are wonderful in many places throughout the US, the fall colors in New England are especially incredible. There are so many lovely towns, magnificent mountain overlooks, and hundreds of stunning waterfall hikes that will be draped in all the reds, oranges, and yellows of fall. And if you’ve been here before, you know this crew loves our road trips. We love hiking when the temps are cooler anyway, so add some mountain AND ocean views with a blast of bright colors thrown on top, and you’ve pretty much described the perfect road trip. Below is a 10-day itinerary that highlights some of New England’s best fall stops that will hopefully give you a small glimpse at the beauty of the East Coast. Please reach out if you have any questions!
Days 1-4- I recommend staying in Lincoln, NH.
Days 5-6- I recommend staying in Stowe, VT.
Day 7- I recommend staying in Colebrook, NH
Day 8-10- I recommend staying in Bar Harbor, ME.
We usually drive out east, but if you are flying, for this road trip it would be easiest to fly into Manchester, MA or Boston, MA and out of Bar Harbor, ME or Bangor, ME. However, if it is not cost effective to fly out of a different location, Boston’s airport is 5 hours from Bar Harbor. The drive is lovely, and you could either stay another day or just choose a flight later in the day so you have time to make the drive. My mom actually met us out there last fall and flew in and out of Manchester, MA and it worked well too!
Must Know Before You Go:
- The weather can change quickly in the mountains, and it often has cooler temps. I highly recommend bringing a change of clothes and rain gear with you.
- Trails can get very wet and muddy in the fall and they are always rocky, so I recommend sturdy footwear!
- Food options are limited in most of the parks in October. Plan on bringing food into the parks with you or allow extra time in the afternoon to leave for lunch in one of the many lovely towns around any of the parks.
- If you click on any park name throughout the itinerary it will take you to a park specific post with more information on lodging, dining, cell service, and trail tips for that specific park.
- Franconia State Park- I highly recommend purchasing Flume Gorge and Cannon Mountain Ariel Tramway tickets prior to arrival. Both sell out quickly.
- Acadia National Park- Cadillac Summit Road requires an additional pass/timed entry, May through October. Reservations are available at Recreation.gov and cost $6/vehicle.
- Arrive in New Hampshire
- Drive the Mt. Washington Auto Road (8 mi. one-way, 4000+ ft of elevation gain)
- Flume Gorge (2.2 mi.)
- The Basin/Basin Cascade Trail (2.6 mi.)
- Cannon Ariel Tramway
- Ski Museum
- Old Man in the Mountain Museum
- Artist Bluff/Bald Mountain (1.5 mi.)
- Echo Lake
- Pemigewasset Overlook
- Lily Pond Vista
- Sugar Hill Overlook
- Sabbaday Falls (0.7 mi.)
- Champney Falls/Pitcher Falls (3.5 mi.)
- Rocky Gorge/Falls Pond (1 mi.)
- Lower Falls
- Albany Covered Bridge
- Diana’s Baths (1.5 mi.)
- Conway Scenic Railroad
- Hancock Overlook
- Coliseum/Bemis/Arethusa Falls via Bemis Brooks and Arethusa Falls Trails (3.2 mi.)
- Ripley Falls Trail (1.2 mi.)
- Willey Pond Loop/Sam Willey Trails (1.4 mi.)
- Silver Cascades/Flume Cascades
- Moss Glen Falls (0.7 mi.)
- Explore downtown Stowe
- Stowe Recreation Path (~5 miles one-way)
- Gold Brook Covered Bridge
- Cold Hollow Cider Mill
- Ben & Jerry’s Factory
Smugglers’ Notch State Park
- Scenic Drive through Smugglers Notch Pass
- Bingham Falls (0.5 mi.)
- Sterling Pond (2 mi.)
- Mount Mansfield (either using the Auto Toll Road or the Gondola SkyRide)
Dixville Notch State Park
- Beaver Brooks Falls
- Table Rock (1.5 mi.)
- Baby Flume
- Sanguinary Ridge (1.4 mi.)
- Huntington Cascade (0.5 mi.)
- Schooner Head Overlook
- Great Head Trail/Sand Beach Long Loop (2 mi.)
- Beaver Dam Pond
- Thunder Hole
- Otter Point to Otter Cliff via Ocean Path Trail (0.8 mi.)
- Jordan Pond/Bubble Rock Loop (4 mi.)
- Beech Mountain Trail (1.2 mi.)
- Echo Lake
- Wonderland Trail (1.4 mi.)
- Ship Harbor Trail/Check out the Tide pools! (1.4 mi.)
- Sunset at Bass Harbor Lighthouse
- Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain Summit
- Beehive Loop (1.4 mi.)
- Optional (depending on your route home): Hadlock Ponds Loop (4 mi.)
- Head home!
Hope you have a wonderful adventure!
Also, check out our hiking gear and apparel below!