Shades of yellow and orange all around, the sound of leaves crunching under your boots, and a mug of hot apple cider in hand—leaf peeping is undoubtedly one of our favorite fall activities. When it comes to checking out fall foliage, a little bit of planning can go a long way and help you see some seriously awesome scenery. Read on for a few tips and resources, plus a list of the best places to go leaf peeping, according to our community of outdoor enthusiasts.
When to go leaf peeping
Leaf peeping season kicks off in mid-September, with northern and higher elevation areas beginning to put on a show. But it can stretch into December into southern regions, such as Arizona’s Sonoran Desert (yes, there’s fall foliage in Arizona).
Ultimately, the best time to see peak foliage will depend on where you’re adventuring. We recommend keeping an eye on foliage reports for your area in the days leading up to your trip. This will help you choose the best spots to explore at any given time.
Resources for tracking foliage
- SmokyMountains.com is home to a popular interactive map that can help you plan ahead.
- Weather.com has national and regional maps highlighting current foliage trends.
- There are several good state and regional guides to foliage, including for New Hampshire, New York, California (and specifically Mono County), and Quebec Province.
The best places for fall foliage hikes, according to the Forsake community
When it comes to adventuring in the great outside, our Forsake community knows a thing or two. We asked our Instagram followers to share their favorite leaf peeping spots and got some awesome recommendations for spots all across the country (and in Canada, too).
Welch and Dickey Loop Trail, New Hampshire
A 4.4-mile loop located in the White Mountain National Forest with 360-degree views at the summit.
Pemi Loop, New Hampshire
This 30.3-mile loop is part of the Pemigewasset Wilderness area of New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest.
Smugglers’ Notch State Park, Vermont
Popular for scenic drives and hikes, the state park and famous Smugglers’ Notch mountain pass provide access to lots of trails and camping sites.
Taugahannock Falls State Park, New York
This Ithaca-area state park’s claim to fame? Its 215-foot waterfall—the tallest free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi.
Adirondack Mountains, New York
There’s something for leaf peepers of all ages and abilities, with trails ranging from a short, flat path (perfect for families with young kids) to the 10.1-mile Whiteface Mountain Summit Trail.
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
With the 185-mile scenic coastal Cabot Trail driving route and 230,000 acre Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the island is a leaf peeper’s paradise in autumn.
Asheville, North Carolina
The mountains around Asheville burst with color throughout the season, with peak foliage transforming highest elevations at the end of September and then slowly making its way down the slopes.
Lake Superior, Minnesota
Take in picturesque views in the North Shore region of Minnesota, where you can challenge yourself on the Superior Hiking Trail.
Kenosha Pass, Colorado
Considered one of the top choices for fall colors near Denver, Kenosha Pass has easy to moderate hikes and views of the South Park plains and Rocky Mountains.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
You can check out panoramas of golden aspen from your car along the Trail Ridge Road, and then tackle some of the 300 miles of hiking trails in the park, ranging from quickies like the Bear Lake Loop to more adventurous options like the Longs Peak Valley Loop.
North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona
The grandeur of the canyon combined with the changing colors of the leaves? It’s a bucket-list-worthy sight.
Eastern Sierras, California
The Highway 395 corridor is photogenic all year round, but the combination of scenic mountains and lakes with fall colors is extra magical. Foliage season here stretches from mid-September (Bishop Creek, Rock Creek, Virginia Lakes) all the way into early November (City of Bishop).
This charming village in the Cascades is so excited about the annual kaleidoscope of fall foliage that they have a whole festival dedicated to it. Though the Autumn Leaf Festival is canceled for 2020, nature will still be putting on a show and there are hundreds of miles of trails to enjoy in the area.
Know another place that has amazing fall foliage? We’d love to hear about it! Send us a note on Instagram @forsakeco.
Photo by Dennis Buchner/Unsplash.