Table of Contents Show
- Which New England State Is the Best for Fall Hiking?
- 10 Fall Hikes That You Cannot Miss
- #1. Falling Waters Trail to Little Haystack, New Hampshire
- #2. Flume Gorge Loop, New Hampshire
- #3. Chimney Pond, Mount Katahdin, Maine
- #4. Holliston Rail Trail, Massachusetts
- #5. Sterling Pond Trail, Vermont
- #6. Rome Point Trail, Rhode Island
- #7. Camel’s Hump, Vermont
- #8. Bear Mountain Trail, Connecticut
- #9. Beehive Loop Trail, Maine
- #10. Mount Greylock, Massachusetts
- Is Fall Hiking in New England Worth the Drive?
A crisp fall day calls for a hike. And there are few better regions than New England when the autumn leaves show off their brilliant colors. So we’re about to share ten fall hikes that are so epic you need to experience them in person to understand how great they truly are.
Lace up your hiking boots, and let’s get going!
Which New England State Is the Best for Fall Hiking?
The White Mountains of New Hampshire take home the prize for the best fall hiking. The mountains and valleys are thick with forests. Catching the leaves’ color change at the peak of the season is the most magical time to hike in the state.
Pro Tip: Read up on how to make the most of your time in White Mountain National Forest.
Although New Hampshire is the best state for fall hiking, other locations around New England are close contenders. It’s difficult to go wrong with a hike in the northeast this autumn when the air is cool and the forests are in the midst of change. It’s still warm enough to enjoy waterfalls and lakes before they ice over. And the wildlife is moving about to get ready for winter.
10 Fall Hikes That You Cannot Miss
New England is calling! Here are ten fall hikes that will leave you in awe.
#1. Falling Waters Trail to Little Haystack, New Hampshire
About This Hike: Falling Waters Trail is a 5.6-mile hike to Little Haystack Mountain, a peak in the White Mountains. The trail is open year-round for hiking and snowshoeing. It’s a difficult out-and-back trail with an elevation gain of 3,034 feet. It can be pretty cold and windy above the treeline, so dress appropriately. Feel free to bring your furry best friends as long as you keep them on a leash.
Directions: The trail is twelve minutes north of Lincoln, New Hampshire in a small town called Franconia, NH. From NH-112 west, take I-93 north for 7.5 miles to the trailhead parking exit.
What Makes This Hike Worth the Drive: You’ll see views both below and above the treeline. You’ll see endless color on this trail, whether you’re looking up at the fall branches or overlooking the treetops. In addition, the trail features waterfalls!
#2. Flume Gorge Loop, New Hampshire
About This Hike: If you want two hikes in one trip, check out the Flume Gorge Trail too. It’s a 2.2-mile loop for all skill levels that takes you into the White Mountains past a waterfall. The best fall months to hike the trail are September and October, when it’s usually drier than later in the season. There’s an entry fee, which was $18 per adult in the fall of 2021.
Directions: The trail is a couple of minutes south of Falling Waters Trail and nine minutes north of Lincoln, NH. Take I-93 north to exit 34A and merge onto US-3 north, which will take you to the Flume Gorge Park Information Center.
What Makes This Hike Worth the Drive: There are numerous overlooks along the trail to enjoy the fall colors and waterfalls. Although there’s a fee, it’s worth it for those who want to enjoy the New England fall via an easy hike.
#3. Chimney Pond, Mount Katahdin, Maine
About This Hike: Chimney Pond Trail is in Baxter State Park, a 6.3-mile out-and-back hike with an elevation gain of 1,463 feet. The trail is rated moderate. However, it has some rocky sections and tends to be more challenging on the way down.
Directions: The trailhead is a one-minute walk from Roaring Brook Campground in Baxter State Park, near Millinocket, Maine. From Millinocket, drive from Millinocket Road and Baxter Park Road to Northeast Piscataquis. Then, take Roaring Brook Road to the campground.
What Makes This Hike Worth the Drive: The trail has scenic overlooks that lead you up to Chimney Pond with views of Mt. Katahdin. Hiking in the cool fall air adds to the ambiance of the breathtaking Maine landscape.
#4. Holliston Rail Trail, Massachusetts
About This Hike: The Holliston Rail Trail is a 6.7-mile stretch of the Upper Charles Rail Trail that connects Holliston and Milford. The trail takes you under trees, over old rail bridges, and by gardens. It’s rated easy for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing, and you can bring your dogs.
Directions: The eastern trailhead is in Holliston, Massachusetts, just outside Milford. Take MA-16 east for about three miles, then turn right onto Central Street, and you’ll see the trailhead parking.
What Makes This Hike Worth the Drive: The Holliston Rail Trail is worth the drive for a fall hike, as you’ll likely see a lot of fall color amid beautiful bridges and stone walls. Plus, it’s close to the city, so you can combine the hike with shopping or dining.
#5. Sterling Pond Trail, Vermont
About This Hike: The Sterling Pond Trail is a 2.3-mile out-and-back hike with a 908-foot elevation gain. It’s rated moderate, and dogs are allowed. The trail is in Smugglers’ Notch State Park and takes you to a beautiful pond in the forest. Hikers have reported that it gets slippery and muddy when wet.
Please note that the trail closes as soon as the winter weather hits. If you’re traveling in late October, call ahead or check out the website to make sure the trail is still open.
Directions: The trailhead is about ten miles south of Cambridge, Vermont. From VT-15, take VT-108 south about seven miles, and the trail will be on your left.
What Makes This Hike Worth the Drive: A picturesque view of the forest reflecting in Sterling Pond makes the hike worth the drive. It’s a great way to experience Vermont outdoors.
#6. Rome Point Trail, Rhode Island
About This Hike: Rome Point Trail is a 2.4-mile easy loop for all skill levels. It’s in the John H. Chafee Nature Preserve and has incredible ocean views. If you hike this trail in the spring and summer, you’ll be writing home about the stunning wildflowers. But in the fall, it’s all about the fall foliage and gorgeous colors next to an ocean backdrop. Feel free to bring leashed dogs on the trail.
Directions: The trail is four minutes north of Saunderstown, Rhode Island. Take RI-1A north to Griffith Road and turn right after about two miles into the John H. Chafee Nature Preserve.
What Makes This Hike Worth the Drive: The trail features beautiful foliage year-round, as it’s in a preserve untouched by civilization. And you get views of the bay going out to the Atlantic Ocean.
#7. Camel’s Hump, Vermont
About This Hike: Camel’s Hump Trail is a 6-mile, difficult, out-and-back hike with an elevation gain of 2,588 feet. With slippery rocks and mud, the trail is for skilled hikers and leashed dogs. Also, as you head towards the summit, the trail gets narrow and very steep. If you’re afraid of heights, it’s probably not the hike for you.
Directions: The trail is in Camel’s Hump State Park and lies eight miles east of Waterbury, Vermont. Head east on River Rd for 4 miles until you reach Camel’s Hump Rd. Drive south on Camel’s Hump Rd until you reach the trailhead.
What Makes This Hike Worth the Drive: The view of mountain tops from the trail is worth your time. Fall foliage doesn’t disappoint in Vermont, and this trail proves it. Plus, you’ll get to see a waterfall and mark a particularly challenging, steeply elevated hike off your list.
#8. Bear Mountain Trail, Connecticut
About This Hike: Bear Mountain Trail is a 6.1-mile loop with an elevation gain of 1,683 feet. It’s rated moderate with some steep climbs, and dogs are allowed on the trail. The trail is in Mount Riga State Park, just south of the White Mountains. Given the weather in this part of the state, it’s best to take to the trail before Thanksgiving–afterward, it’ll likely be snow-covered.
Directions: The trail is about three miles north of Salisbury, Connecticut. Take CT-41 north to the Undermountain Trailhead Park Area at 395 Under Mountain Rd, Salisbury, CT, 06068.
What Makes This Hike Worth the Drive: You get unbeatable forest views of northern Connecticut in the fall on this hike. We highly recommend going when the colors are at their peak, at the beginning of November. You may even see a few remaining wildflowers here and there.
#9. Beehive Loop Trail, Maine
About This Hike: Beehive Loop Trail is a 1.5-mile loop in Acadia National Park. It features a lake and views of the Atlantic Ocean. The trail is typically quite busy, and it has excellent reviews from those who have gone before. They recommend going counterclockwise to get the steepest climbs out of the way at the beginning. It’s a difficult hike requiring you to climb steep granite staircases, climb ladders, and even use stabilizing rungs.
As it’s inside Acadia National Park, expect to pay a fee or have a national parks pass to enter the grounds; once you’re in, hiking is free.
Directions: The trail is inside Acadia National Park, just south of Bar Harbor, Maine. If you’re coming from Bar Harbor, you’ll take Highway 3 down a few miles until you reach the entrance station on Park Loop Road. The trailhead is about a mile further south.
What Makes This Hike Worth the Drive: This hike is worth the drive to see striking fall colors cascade into Bar Harbor. Stop for photos at the top and again near the pond. Just remember to bundle up, as it gets cold this far north in September and October.
Pro Tip: Fall is also a great time to enjoy all of fun and unique activities Bar Harbor, Maine has to offer.
#10. Mount Greylock, Massachusetts
About This Hike: There are several trails in Mount Greylock State Reserve, but a favorite is the Mount Greylock Overlook Trail. It’s a 2.4-mile loop with an elevation gain of 639 feet. The trail is actually a segment of the Appalachian Trail between Hopper Trail and Mt. Greylock’s summit.
This moderately rated trail features a river and forest. Be cautious of slippery areas, and bring along your leashed pets. Although the rating is moderate, some reviewers said that it was more challenging than they expected.
Directions: Even though the Mount Greylock trailhead is a couple of miles due west of Adams, MA, you have to drive 14-miles to get there from that point. Take MA-8 to Walnut Street in North Adams. Then take Reservoir Road and Notch Road southwest to the trailhead.
What Makes This Hike Worth the Drive: Hiking the trail in September and October means views of the changing colors. There’s also a pond that looks gorgeous with the fall colors as a backdrop.
Is Fall Hiking in New England Worth the Drive?
Are you willing to drive around New England for some of the best fall hikes in the U.S.?
We hope you’re able to get to one or more of these recommended trails on your next fall road trip. Seeing the changing leaves, waterways, and wildlife of New England are inspiring any time of year, but the fall season brings about cooler temperatures and ecosystems preparing for winter.
Let us know about your experience if you hike one of these trails. We always love to hear about your adventures.
Tie up your boots and get out there!