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4 Ways to Get the Best Fall Foliage Views

The mercury is starting to drop, and the leaves are slowing turning from green to hues of yellow, orange, and red. Fall in New England is one of the best places to be, especially in the White Mountains. Every year thousands of “leaf peepers” head to the mountains in search of the perfect vista to get the best views of the leaves. Bring your camera and get ready to post a million fall foliage pictures for Instagram.

This blog post is part of "The Guide to Fall Activities in The White Mountains" blog series.

Depending on the weather, the leaves can turn at any point. Plan your adventures in the mountains by keeping an eye on New Hampshire’s Foliage Tracker. Updated twice a week, you’ll know when and where to head for the best views.  


By Air


What better way to see the incredible fall foliage than by air! Whether by helicopter, zipline, gondola, or tram, getting a birdseye view of the leaves without a doubt be a unique experience that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. For the ultimate adventure, book a special flight on the White Mountains Helicopter. Choose from 15 minutes up to 45 minutes through the notches and along the winding Connecticut River. Don’t forget your camera!

For something a little closer to the ground, take the Loon Mountain Gondola, New Hampshire’s longest scenic gondola skyride, or Cannon Mountain’s Aerial Tramway. Both experiences will have you flying above the treetops and deliver to mountain peaks offering panoramic views of the White Mountains and beyond. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Canada from Cannon! Pack a picnic and enjoy the fresh mountain air while taking the perfect Instagram photos. 

Alpine Adventures brought the first, longest, and fastest zipline to New England in 2006, and it’s still the best. Just ask the thousands of visitors who had an incredible experience zipping through New Hampshire’s best-kept secret, Barron Mountain. Built upon a private mountain, Alpine Adventures has three zipline courses just waiting to be discovered. Choose from the classic Tree Top Canopy Tour or fly high and fast on the Super SkyRider Zipline. Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa in the beautifully built treehouse. You’ll definitely get close to the fall foliage on this adrenaline-filled experience! 


By Car 

autumn driving

Northern New Hampshire is perhaps one of the most beautiful places to drive. Everywhere you look, you’ll have wonderful views of the mountains and nature. If you’re looking for the ultimate road trip through the White Mountains, try the 142-mile multi-notch mountain ride. Start in Lincoln and head north up I-93 through Franconia Notch State Park. Through the ups and downs, you’ll be rewarded with epic mountain views. Turn onto Route 3 to Twin Mountain and connect with Route 302 or head west on Route 112 through Kinsman Notch to Route 302. 

Either way, you’ll pass through small mountain towns like Littleton, Bethlehem, and Twin Mountain. Travel east along Route 302 through Crawford Notch. In Bartlett, you have the option to take the Bear Notch Road back to the Kancamagus Highway and Lincoln or continue to the intersection of Route 16 in Glen. Head north on Route 16 through Pinkham Notch past Mount Washington looming overhead to Gorham. Make your way back through North Conway. Stop for some food and a little shopping before taking the scenic ride along the Kancamagus Highway through the White Mountain National Forest. Don’t forget to stop and take in the views along the way!


By Train 

fall train ride

The small mountain town of Lincoln is home to two trains – the Hobo Railroad and the Café Lafayette Dinner Train. The Hobo Railroad is the perfect adventure for train lovers of all ages, especially the young ones. On the weekends in the fall, the Harvest Time Express trains provide the perfect opportunity to take a scenic ride along the Pemigewasset River and the surrounding hillside to see the trees come alive with red, orange, and yellow hues. 

Operating through October, the Café Lafayette Dinner Train is a unique once-in-a-lifetime experience. On the 20-mile journey through the Pemigewasset River valley, you’ll enjoy a seasonal five-course dinner as you watch the colorful leaves zip by from your train car. Each train car is unique and decorated in its own time period. You’ll find tons of tasty fall dishes using locally sourced produce during September and October. You certainly won’t go hungry on this adventure! 


By Foot 


After an evening on the Café Lafayette Dinner Train or a night out on the town in Lincoln, you’ll want to stretch your legs and burn a few calories. Lonesome Lake Trail in Franconia Notch State Park is a 3.1-mile loop trail that offers excellent hiking year-round. The views around the lake are perfect for those iconic fall photos. If you’re looking to earn some bragging rights, wake up before sunrise and hit the Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop. The 8.5-mile loop is one of the most challenging in the White Mountains but offers some of the best views on a clear day. While no longer watching over the White Mountains, Profile Lake via Pemi Trail pays tribute to the famous “Old Man in the Mountain.” The 1.3-mile out-and-back trail runs along a paved trail to Profile Lake where you could once see the stone face of New Hampshire’s most famous resident. 

Whatever your mode of transportation, the fall foliage views in the White Mountains are some of the best in New England. People travel from all over the world to catch a glimpse of the trees are they turn into a rainbow of colors. Book your trip to the White Mountains before the leaves drop. Winter will be here before you know it!


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