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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Grateful Traveler: Experiencing Fall Foliage at Its Best

All the best leaf-peeping opportunities north, south, east and west of the Capital Region.

Experience fall foliage from great heights.
Gore Mountain and Whiteface Mountain – Fall foliage from a distance is something. Get a glimpse of a lifetime at Gore Mountain and Whiteface Mountain, where you can take a soaring gondola sky ride absorbing all the beautiful colors from above the ground.
Hunter Mountain Zipline Adventure – Fasten on a Hunter Mountain Zipline Adventure Tour helmet and whiz through the forest covering heights of 600 feet. Take the Hunter Mountain Skyride where you can see the northern Catskills outfitted in their autumn colors. This is the six-passenger Kaatskill Flyer detachable chairlift. An 11-minute ride will take you to the 3,200-foot summit.
The Saratoga Monument is nearly 190 stairs to its 154-foot peak to see the Adirondack Mountains to the north, the Taconic Mountains to the east and the rolling Helderberg Mountains to the south. There may be no better way to see all our local mountains at one time.
K-1 Gondola Rides at Killington – The eight-passenger K-1 Gondola can take you to the highest Vermont peak serviced by a chair lift, where you’ll enjoy views that stretch into five states and Canada on a clear day. Fall Foliage Scenic Chairlift Rides at Mount Snow –Enjoy views of four states from the 3,600-foot summit at Mount Snow Resort in Mount Snow, Vermont. Scenic Chairlift rides are available Friday through Sunday.

Experience fall by rail
Board a Fall Foliage Train at Utica’s historic Union Station. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad takes you through remote forests, sparkling rivers and into the magnificent beauty of Adirondack Park. Try to grab a window seat. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is a tourist railway located in the Adirondack Park that operates over the tracks of the former New York Central Railroad between Utica and Lake Placid. Contact [email protected]; 800.819.2291.
Bring the whole family for the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad’s Pumpkin Patch Train. The colors are awesome, and there are pumpkins of unpredictable sizes along the way.
The Catskill Mountain Railroad will take you through the natural beauty of the Catskills from the railroad’s unique perspective, aboard Ulster County’s scenic train. Take a comfortable seat in one of the vintage coaches, or enjoy the fresh air and beautiful views from open cars. The fall foliage tours operate from October 7-8-9, 14-15. Later in October, there are Pumpkin Patch Trains. Contact [email protected] or call 845.688.7400.
The Green Mountain Railroad features fall foliage in Vermont. The interesting Green Mountain Fall Foliage Dinner Train operates from Chester to Ludlow on Friday and Saturday nights during sunsets. Contact [email protected].
Railbiking in the Adirondacks – How cool is this? Pedal along railroad tracks for wonderful foliage views. Exercise and leaf peeping—what could be better? Contact revail.com and snrr.com.

Hiking through color
High Falls Gorge – This 22-acre privately owned nature park provides safe trail access for all ages to an otherwise inaccessible area. There are four splendid Adirondack waterfalls cascading over rocks into a deep crevice carved a billion years ago. Contact 518.946.2278 or highfallsgorge.com.
Head to the Prospect Mountain above Lake George Village where spectacular views await at the summit. Most just drive the 5.9-mile toll road up to near the summit and then either walk or take the bus to the top. There is a 1.5-mile Prospect Mountain Trail for a quick climb. The leaves look extraordinary from that far up. alltrails.com/trail/us/new-york/prospect-mountain-trail.
When foliage peaks, take to the hiking and biking paths of the Pleasant Valley Sanctuary in the Berkshires to immerse yourself in the vibrant colors of the mountains. Contact Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary at 413.637.0320 or [email protected].
The Catskill Mountains have nearly 100 peaks to enjoy. There is the 287,500-acre Catskill Forest Preserve that produces a medley of yellows, oranges, and reds. For continuous scenic views, it’s hard to beat a trip to Giant Ledge and Panther Mountain. parks.ny.gov.
Walkway Over the Hudson – This is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge, to the Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway. Known as the Gunks, the Shawangunk Ridge is one of America’s major rock climbing areas. Climb Breakneck Ridge in Hudson Highlands State Park for spectacular river views or explore by kayak or canoe.
West Point’s Trophy Point – This scenic overlook of the Hudson River Valley is ideal for highland vistas, especially in autumn. There are waterfalls and high peaks, where you can see the leaves fall gracefully into pools of water or the ground far, far below.
Letchworth State Park is the perfect setting for a picnic amid the colors! Autumn colors dazzle along the 17-mile gorge known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” For unbeatable scenery, Mt. Marcy – The Adirondacks and New York’s highest summit—is nothing short of amazing. Four trails to the summit mean four different ways to experience the indescribable fall foliage!

Experience by water
Islands of the Narrows Cruise aboard the Saint Sacrement in Lake George is a spectacle cruise for color watching. Contact lakegeorgesteamboat.com for times and dates during fall.
Fall Foliage Sunday Brunch Cruises – Cruise the Connecticut River aboard Lady Katharine Cruises’ Mystique this fall and enjoy a Sunday brunch buffet and live entertainment with your leaves. Cruises depart from Haddam or Middletown, Connecticut.
The Finger Lakes Region offers daily cruises and boat tours on Canandaigua, Skaneateles, Seneca and Cayuga lakes, as well as on the historic Erie Canal. Water tours are available from one-hour general sightseeing cruises to wine cruises and full course dinner cruises. Contact fingerlakes.org/things-to-do/boat-cruises.
Cruise the historic Erie Canal – cruises will run until October 15 on Saturdays and Sundays at both 1 and 3pm while foliage is in full swing along the Mohawk River. For more information; 315.717.0350 [email protected].

Fall festivals and Halloween
fun Our region abounds in fall festivals, including:
11th Annual Pumpkin Walk – October 14 from – 4 to 8pm at Columbia-Green Community College, Hudson. Family activities, followed by pumpkin walk down a path lined with twinking jack-o-lanterns carved by children and adults from the community. mhacg.org.
Old Fort Johnson Harvest Festival – October 14 – 15 from 10am-4pm at the Fort, 2 Mergner Road (Routes 5 and 67, one mile west of Amsterdam) in Fort Johnson. Celebrate the fall harvest and the last chance of the season to visit the Old Fort Johnson museum. Open house with outdoor baking, fresh apple cider pressing, and other family activities. Contact 518.843.0300 oldfortjohnson.org.
The Sleepy Hollow Experience in Sturbridge, Massachusetts – The Sleepy Hollow Experience returns to Old Sturbridge Village, running through October 29. An immersive, outdoor theatrical experience that reimagines Washington Irving’s iconic 1820s tale. sleepyhollowosv.org.
Lackawanna County in neighboring northeastern Pennsylvania has yet another wash of gorgeous color to explore. The fall foliage is simply amazing. The Poconos are so close and easy to enjoy as are the other towns throughout Lackawanna. Excursions by train are available during their annual Steamtown events… pumpkin patches pop and apple trees ripe for the picking. Like any of the roads in Adirondacks or Vermont, cruising country road and jumping in and of the car when you spy a great antique store or café or farm store is nothing short of Fall splendor. nps.gov/stea/planyourvisit/railfest.htm.

Vikki Moran
Vikki Moran
Vikki Moran is a travel writer and the founder of the Grateful Traveler.

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