Leaf Peeping Season is Here! 2014

  • Visit North Central

Leaf Peeping Season is Here!

According to Wikipedia, leaf peeping is “an informal term for people who travel to view and photograph the fall foliage in areas where foliage changes colors, particularly New England.” And what a beautiful view it is! Beginning in September and continuing to the end of October, it is truly a breathtaking drive down Rt. 2. From Ayer in the east to Phillipston in the west, there is a splendid array of color.


Below are our Top Ten Leaf Peeping Tips from our Fall Foliage and Photography Tour.

1. Visit Mount Wachusett State Reservation in Princeton for a view to take your breath away. Take Route 2, exit 25 (Westminster/Princeton) to Rte. 140S and follow the signs. At this spot – the largest mountain in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River – the panorama stretches for miles around. Summit views include sights of Boston to the east. The Indian Summer Trail is a photographer’s dream. Also, visit Mount Wachusett Ski Area for the foliage sky ride any weekend Wachusett has an event going on. Here, you can ride one of the ski lifts (one way or round trip) to get an arial view of the foliage in the area.

2. Watch the sun set from fiery Prospect Hill Road in Harvard, a vista that stretches as far as the eye can see. Take exit 38A off of Route 2, and follow the signs. Take Route 2 to Route 63N, and follow the signs for two miles.

3. Fruitland’s Museum, also in Harvard, offers a wide variety of scenery with hiking trails. Not only can you see great foliage, but you can also learn about the way the Alcotts and others lived.

4. Stay at the picturesque Maguire House in Ashburnham. Incredible mountain and water views.

5. Dine at the Old Mill Restaurant in Westminster.  Not only will you see foliage galore, but you will also cross a covered bridge, see a duck pond, and a waterfall.  And definitely try their incredible corn fritters!

6. For the wine lovers, visit Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton. Take a tour of the winery, eat at J’s Restaurant onsite, and view the beautiful trees.

7. Visit a state park! Specifically Dunn State Park in Gardner, Pearl Hill in Townsend, or Leominster State Forest.

8. Hike the midstate trail. Stop at Barre Falls Dam in Barre, Crow Hill Ledges in Princeton (and yes, you can rock climb here!), or Redemption Rock in Westminster.  For more hiking options, see our hiking page.  You can also visit Northfield Mountain Environmental and Recreation Center in Northfield. Amid 25 miles of hiking trails, including an overlook at the 1,100-foot summit, you’ll find woods and fields, slopes and valleys, plus views and the chance to see local wildlife.

9. Take a Riverboat tours are available through the French King Gorge, the most scenic stretch of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts. Climb aboard the charming 44 seat Quinnetuket II Riverboat for a relaxing and informative journey down the great river. 12 mile cruise, 90 minutes. Tickets are sold at the Visitors Center. Hours for the visitor’s center: Wed-Sun., 9 am-5 pm. Adults $12, Seniors 55+ $11, Children under 15 $6, Groups of 15 or more, $10 each. Reservations strongly recommended. Offered June 30th-October 14th Friday-Sunday 11am, 1:15pm and 3pm. Closed July 4th and Labor Day. For more information, call (800) 859-2960.

10. Just take a drive!!!! Rt. 2 is truly breathtaking. Routes 2A, 117, and 119 also offer great views. Sometimes, the best views are just stopping off on the side of the road when you see a beautiful tree.

Viewing Tips from the Experts

  1. Don’t worry about missing “peak.” The glorious scarlets and golds will still be there for much of Fall.
  2. A single crimson maple in the foreground with a white church behind and a light blue sky will be far more effective than a panoramic distant view.
  3. Bring extra batteries and a spare memory card for your camera.
  4. Get off the beaten path. Seek out the back roads that meander through woodlands, farm country and small villages. Discover our stone walls, town commons and farmstands.
  5. Colors are most vivid in early morning light. Get up early! And get out of your car! Our crisp and sunny days will welcome you outside.
  6. Late-afternoon light provides contrast of color against darkness.
  7. Rain brings out trees’ vivid colors, which run the rainbow.
  8. Ask the experts for advice – local people, forest rangers whose job it is to report on foliage conditions in their area. Ask them, “Where would you go?”
  9. Valleys and lowland areas are among the first to change color. Look for swamp maples in the marshes.
  10. Weekday trips will have less traffic. But don’t worry if you come for the weekend. Our roads are much less congested than our neighbors to the North and West of us.
  11. Book your hotel in advance.

And now enjoy your trip. Share your photos with us, and with your fellow travelers, on our Photo Gallery.