The best places to find fall foliage, and no crowds in New Hampshire
New Hampshire offers some of the best fall colors in the world. Each autumn, the forests of the Granite State explore in a symphony of red, orange, yellow and green. The fall colors usually come in late September, reaching peak foliage around or after Indigenous Peoples Day/ Columbus Day. By mid October the colors are fading. Color starts north, and moves south – ending on the Seacoast.
Here is an off the beaten path guide to see the best colors and to avoid the crowds. First of all, we need to note that Concord is in the heart of New Hampshire. The White Mountains, Upper Valley, Monadnock Region and Seacoast are an hour or less away. So, by picking Concord, NH, as a fall foliage base, you can go where the peak foliage is and not where the crowds are.
So, we recommend leaf peepers make Concord their base, with its vibrant Main Street, tasty eateries, and abundant cultural offerings. And, here are our foliage tips regarding where to see the best colors (with no traffic, too):
Fave foliage drive:
Head West on Rt. 9 towards Hillsborough, passing Pat’s Peak, which is usually quite colorful in autumn. Catch Rt. 123 N to Walpole in Stoddard. This is a great country road that winds its way though some lovely towns and full of vistas. Stop at the Pitcher Mountain hike in Stoddard, an easy hike to a fire tower with abundantly amazing fall views. The road comes to Marlow, on of the prettiest towns in NH, where the colors are reflected in the pond that frames the town. From there, 123 N climbs to the quaint town of Alstead. The road then winds down to Walpole on the Connecticut River, with great places to eat and explore – including L.A. Burdick chocolates.
Easy Foliage hikes near Concord:
Concord’s Winant Park is just a short drive from downtown, but offers lots of easy trails – one leading to sweeping panoramic view of the region, including the State House as well as St. Paul’s School campus, framed with mountains. The main trailhead is off the Fisk Road. There are several miles of trails including loops. You can also see stonewalls that date from more than a century ago.
Carter Hill Orchard has amazing crisp fall apples, cider and doughnuts – but the orchard also has a huge viewing platform looking north, with endless views to the White Mountains. The perfect foliage outing!
Gould Hill Orchard in Hopkinton is set on a series of hillsides, and has vast views over the state, as well great apple picking hikes, pies and cider doughnuts.
Fox State Forest in Hillsborough has an easy tower trail set off the Center Road that leads up to a tower with great foliage views.
Sewalls Falls Park is set on the Merrimack River. This 136-acre park has hiking, Merrimack River views, a sandy beach and makes for a great foliage trip.
Hannah Duston Memorial State Historic Site is an easy hike right off of I93. The short hike from the parking lot leads to great view of the Merrimack River, and a large grassy field that is perfect for a picnic.