New England, NY, PA: Suggestions for Viewing Fall Foliage

Late next year, after what will be nine years back in the US, the wife and I will retire for good and return to Thailand. But first some travel on the mainland, and one item on our list is viewing the fall foliage in the Northeast. Again, this will be next year, 2025, and not this year. We were thinking of New England, but due to other places we need to be, our itinerary locks us into mid-October for this, about the third week in the month. And from what I’ve been reading, that will be past peak viewing for New England. Now we are considering the Hudson Valley instead, as we’ve been reading the fall colors there just start to take off about that time. We will be in the Buffalo area in early October, so even Pennsylvania is not out of the question. Any suggestions for fall leaf viewing in that area would be welcome. Anywhere in New England except for Maine, we’re just not going to drive that far over. But anywhere in the rest of New England, upstate New York or Pennsylvania would be good.

The Hudson Valley is great fall foliage territory. So is all of the Northeast. If you’re going to be in Buffalo and you drove across New York to the Hudson Valley you would pass endless hill and mountainsides covered with color. And pretty much any trip through the region will be the same. There’s so much of it you probably should choose locations based on other things you can do in the area during your visit.

If you’re going to be in Buffalo, drive about an hour to Letchworth State Park, The 2015 USA Today Reader’s Choice for Best state park in the country &, separately, best attraction in NY State in 2017, it is also known as the Grand Canyon of the East; an almost 600’ deep gorge with three major waterfalls along the river & trees on either side it can be spectacular in the fall (or any other time of year). As a bonus, maybe take a flight over 107’ high Middle Falls in a balloon.

Take NY-436 towards Dansville & then I-390 to I-86 to just before Corning NY & turn south on I-99 into PA for Wellsboro, PA & Leonard Harrison State Park in the Grand Canyon of PA, which is more Vee shaped than the nearly vertical other Grand Canyons, but it’s full of trees & spectacular views. Spend a day there then head back up towards Corning as I-86 runs along the southern end of the Finger Lakes. Take your pick of one or more of the lakes. If you do all of that, you won’t want to bother going all the way east to the Hudson Valley.

The Finger Lakes area is spectacular in a good foliage year, and peak is sometimes in midOctober.

There are sites that do track peak foliage in various areas. While it’s possible to have a general idea, different years vary considerably both in date and in how long the color holds well. I’d recommend keeping your plans as open as possible, and deciding exact route as close to the time as you can.

This year has a good chance of unusual timing. We had a warm winter followed by a wet spring and now we’re in the midst of an unusually hot summer. Depending on how dry the summer is and when the weather turns it might all average out the same as any previous year or be considerable later, sooner, or last a shorter or longer time. Still would be hard to miss all of it in mid October.

just let if flow … drive there (at any bifurcation, take the smaller road), look out of the car window and take in what you see … get out, stroll around without any IG-checklists, influencers around etc… there are millions of places that are so nice … and not clogged up by others …

that’d be my take …

Thank you, all. To add, we are old now and not interested in hiking, so it would need to be driving views, as we’ll have a car. But for mid-October, would you say it is too late for New England and that the Hudson Valley would be better? We need to start making reservations late this year or early next, so we can’t just drive to New England, then switch to the Hudson Valley if that does not pan out. We need to decide on one or the other ahead of time.

We’ve been doing a lot of research into the Hudson Valley this weekend and pretty much decided on the valley anyway. We plan to spend six nights and would like one base from which to explore five full days. (Then we’ll turn in our car and hop a train for NYC, spending a couple weeks there before flying out to Bangkok.) We’re thinking about the middle of the valley, possibly Poughkeepsie. There’s that pedestrian bridge across the Hudson River (which would probably satisfy any small desire for hiking we might have). But we’re open to other locales you think might be good too.

The valley would also give me a chance to get back to my roots a little. My father’s family lived in the Albany area for something like 250 years until my grandfather lit out for Los Angeles at the turn of the 20th century, following his brother apparently. (Yes, turn of the 20th century. My paternal grandfather was born in 1876, during the Grant administration and a couple months before Custer’s Last Stand. The randy old goat did not have my father until he was in his 50s, and thank goodness for that.)

When you’re in the Hudson Valley you’re only 20 miles from New England. And if you’re in Poughkeepsie your about 30 miles from Bear Mt. and Harriman State Park which are beautiful in the fall.

But you’re quite a bit south of Albany if you’re in Poughkeepsie.

The two parks I stated are both short walks, probably less than ¼ mile each. Letchworth is a combination of paved & fine gravel paths to see both Upper & Middle Falls & could mostly be viewed by someone in a wheel chair. You could then drive up to Inspiration Point & it’s about 50 yds from the parking lot to views there.
Leonard Harrison is paved from the parking lot & the lower part to the overlook is boardwalk style; however, there are some steps at that one. Each of them is less than the distance from the parking lot to where you even get over the river on the Walkway Over the Hudson

Don’t just take my word for it. BTW, in the second picture in the Middle Falls section you can not only see the balloon just above the falls you can see the walking path; at that end there are stone steps but the upper right end puts you at the parking lot; no steps, maybe just one for the curb.

Even if you’re going from Buffalo to Poughkeepsie go to Letchworth as it’s literally only a few minutes out of your way.

If you think I’m pushing Letchworth, put it this way, I go at least once & more typically twice a year (once with a group & once on my own)…& it’s ≈ 400 miles each way for me. Yes, it’s that beautiful of a place.

There is “peak” but after-peak is nice for at least a week or two as well. Enjoy

Thanks all. Letchworth definitely sounds like it’s worth a look, maybe a day trip from Buffalo. For Poughkeepsie, we know it’s a ways from Albany, but it seems to be about in the middle of the valley, and even though my father’s family came from there, I’d have no idea where around Albany they actually lived. Everyone and everything are gone now, so the Albany area itself is maybe a day or so. Still have a few months to tinker with the itinerary though.

Bucks County, PA writ large has many gorgeous areas that are great to drive through/ sit and enjoy during leafpeeping season.

There is a TON of winery/ foodie/ historical stuff to do. A long weekend would be a treat.

Avoid Peddler’s Village. It’s a bizarre tchotchke shop strip mall masked as Country Shopping. Otherwise, the New Hope/ Lahaska/ Lambertville area is fun.

Visit Bucks County