Where to find East Coast color through November
Experienced leaf-peepers know timing is everything. Start your foliage tour too early and you'll see only a million shades of green. Go too late and you'll view dead leaves and bare trees. To help coordinate your vacation plans with Mother Nature's fall agenda, we've compiled a week-by-week guide highlighting projected peak times in regions along the East Coast, from Maine to North Carolina. Meanwhile, for a daily report, contact the National Forest Service's foliage hot line (800-354-4595, www.fs.fed.us/news/fallcolors ) or the Weather Channel's updates at www.weather.com/fallfoliage .
Connecticut : The two northern edges-the "Quiet Corner," with such northeast towns of Putnam and Pomfret; and Salisbury, Litchfield and the surrounding state parks and forests in the northwest. By the second week of the month, the coastal Mystic area begins to turn.
Maine : The central and western regions, with stellar foliage in Bethel and Belgrade and around Sugarloaf Ski Resort. For state parks, try Grafton Notch and Mount Blue. Don't miss Tumbledown Mountain Range and its cascade of color.
Massachusetts : The Berkshires and the Mohawk Trail to Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Lenox and Williamstown in the west. The color then moves a bit east to the Pioneer Valley in the second week, heading into Amherst, Northampton and Deerfield.
New Hampshire : The Lakes Region, in the central-eastern area. Look high to the Ossipee Mountain range or down to Weirs Beach. In Dartmouth and around Lake Sunapee, the red swamp maples will be as garish as lipstick.
New York : The Finger Lakes, with its neighboring vineyards and triangle of towns — Corning, Syracuse and Rochester.
Pennsylvania : The northern tier, excluding Lake Erie in the west, with exceptional viewing at the Tioga State Forest, the state's "Grand Canyon," and along Route 6.
Vermont : In the northwest square, known as the Islands & Farms region, where the leaves frame Lake Champlain and the Missisquoi Valley. Plus, the areas that started to turn in late September, mainly in the higher elevations, expand out toward the borders.
West Virginia : The Mountain Lakes region, in central West Virginia, and the lower-altitude areas of the Potomac Highlands in the east. Also, see the bold colors bordering the Ohio River in the Northern Panhandle district, especially in the historic town of Wheeling.
MID- TO LATE OCTOBER
Connecticut : The bulk of the state is at peak. The most brilliant displays are west of Hartford; for scenic tours, hop the Merritt Parkway to the Housatonic River Valley or paddle along the Connecticut River, starting from Essex. The foliage winds down near the New York border, by Fairfield and Westport.
Delaware : The Brandywine Valley. Drive the long stretch through chateau country, or take a historic steam-engine train ride through the colorful groves of Red Clay Creek Valley. Moving south, there is a small splash in Dover and Amish country.
Maine : The colors still fan out in the west but make their slow crawl south toward Portland. By Oct. 21, the south and coastal areas have peaked in the Sebago Lake region, Kennebunkport and south of the capital, among others.
Maryland : In western Maryland, Garrett County turns first (set up shop at Deep Creek Lake), followed by Allegany County. Or for water views, head to Annapolis, Calvert Cliffs State Park or Wye Island-though compared with the west, the trees are a bit thinned out.
Massachusetts : The central region of greater Worcester, with great peeping around the Wachusett Reservoir. In Plymouth County and Cape Cod, an extra swatch of color comes from the cranberry bogs, which pop out like tiny red balloons. The finale: Boston and the North and South shores. Off the mainland, Martha's Vineyard is blanketed in rich burgundy hues — but don't pet the plants, it's poison ivy.
New Hampshire : The Monadnock region and Seacoast in the south, including such popular stopover towns as Keene and Dover.
New York : A big chunk of the state — the Hudson Valley, Niagara Falls, Thousand Islands and the Catskills — is at peak, with all types of bumpy terrain, bodies of water and towns to choose from.
North Carolina : You'll find color everywhere, but the boldest display occurs in the western mountainous region. Top picks: the Great Smokies, the 470-mile ribbon of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mount Mitchell and Asheville, which offers a foliage hot line (800-921-9698, www.exploreasheville.com/leafea.htm ).
Pennsylvania : A thick slice in the central zone and a third of the western region, including Laurel Highlands, Mt. Davis (the state's highest peak) and the Poconos. Around Oct. 20, the southeastern area begins to peak around Lancaster and Dutch Country, a section of the Appalachian Trail and Philadelphia.
Vermont : Basically anywhere, but especially down south near Mount Snow, Bennington and Brattleboro and around the borders. Don't procrastinate: After mid-month, you'll see only piles of brown leaves — or maybe even a dusting of the white stuff.
Virginia : Get your engines ready <#201> for Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains (Oct. 10-20), followed by Northern Virginia and Richmond (Oct. 15-25). The season ends in the Tidewater Region, where the leaves, the Chesapeake and the ocean all blend together into one big swirl of color.
West Virginia : The eastern edge and lower lands of Mountaineer Country. Stretch your legs on the hiking paths of the North Bend Rail Trail. The final flourish is at the New River; Greenbrier Valley, home of the swank spa; the Metro Valley, including such urban areas as Charleston and Huntington; and the hanging chad of the Eastern Panhandle, including Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg.
HALLOWEEN TO EARLY NOVEMBER
New Jersey : The northwest Skylands region, with its acres of parklands, and the Gateway area of Essex and Hudson. The autumnal palette next pops up in the central shore region, then moves to greater Atlantic City and tops off in the southern coastal towns of Cape May and Wildwood.
New York : Westchester County, Manhattan (i.e., Central Park and the odd tree in Brooklyn), with a final burst on Long Island and its outstretched fingertip.
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