During this season Mother Nature like any good mom, tries her very best to coax our region into getting some pre-winter rest. She covers our towns with thick fluffy blankets gleaned from earth toned leaves; she dims the lights earlier by moving the clocks back and drops off harvests to snack on, from crisp fresh apples to bright orange pumpkins.
Transformed annually into a quintessential autumn wonderland, nothing is more spectacular than the colorful display that Mother Nature unfolds before she herself dresses up in her annual winter white. As the greens of summer surrender to crayola shades of yellow, scarlet dogwoods, orange maples and golden hickories, these counties display brilliant autumn foliage, coupled with cooler temperatures and an occasional brisk breeze, all making for an unforgettable experience.
Each year, travelers will grab their cameras and visit these three counties and beyond, to experience their densely wooded rolling hills and steep mountainsides.
With foliage season beginning in mid-to-late September and extending through late October with peak color estimated to be between October 11 and November 13, now is the time to plan a leaf peeping excursion.
In that spirit, here is a sampling of some of our prime locales that will be coloring our landscapes.
Westchester County Color Trails: Cruise along the scenic roads of this county and take in spectacular fall foliage along the Hudson River and Westchester’s countryside. Start in Hastings-on-Hudson via Route 9 North/Broadway. Take in the collage of autumn hues. Next, explore the Historic River Towns, each having great parks and areas just perfect for enjoying the optimal in the fall beauty. Recommended stops include Tarrytown where you can park and enjoy the Hudson River Walk and Kingsland Point Park and Sleepy Hollow, which offers great views of the Hudson, the Tappan Zee and the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse. Continue north on 9/Broadway through Ossining to Croton-on-Hudson and follow the signs to Croton Point Park, a perfect spot to enjoy autumn leaf citings along the Hudson River. Follow 9 further up still to Peekskill and take the Louisa Street exit, following signs to Riverfront Green Park. This park is spectacular. The Bear Mountain lookout is next and can be reached by driving north on 9 and following Route 202/6 over the bridge and around the traffic circle towards Camp Smith. As you drive up to the lookout on this two-lane road, you will be surrounded by trees in their brightest fall garb. View the Hudson River, Fort Montgomery and the Hudson Highlands with a backdrop of gorgeous multi colored foliage. Reverse your course and after you cross the bridge, turn left and follow the Bear Mountain Parkway, Route 202 East, through Yorktown, Amawalk and Somers. You will pass Blue Mountain Reserve, Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park and the Amawalk Reservoir – all lovely. At Purdys, take Route 116 toward Salem Center, along the picturesque Titicus Reservoir and then Route 121 South towards Cross River. At Cross River turn left on to Route 35 East, and then follow Route 124 South to Pound Ridge where you will pass by the Ward Pound Ridge Reserve. At Pound Ridge, follow Route 172 to Bedford and then take Route 22 South, taking you through North Castle, Armonk, Thornwood, Hawthorne, and Valhalla and into the White Plains area. Here you can enjoy clear views of Byram and Wampus Lakes and the Kensico Reservoir.
Litchfield County Color Trails: The Northwest corner of Connecticut is known country wide, for being one of the premier areas for viewing the emergence of changing leaves. Lined with twisting two-lane roads, charming bed and breakfasts, old farmhouses, downtown shopping villages and wonderful hiking trails and parks, this region makes for a perfect first choice for scenic viewing.
Begin in the town of Litchfield, set amidst the rolling Litchfield Hills and the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, all providing a vibrantly colorful backdrop. Here you will find Mount Tom State Park located off Route 202 complete with an antique stone tower 1, 325 feet above sea level, which can be reached by hiking a one-mile long trail, an excursion in itself.
Next head north to the covered bridge in West Cornwall, then south on Route 7 past Kent Falls to Kent, a beautiful and historic small town, laden with great hiking trails. The Appalachian Trail for example, is a 2,000 mile long stretch from Georgia to Maine, and it runs right through downtown Kent. Added leaf peeping opportunities can be found in Kent’s two state parks, Kent Falls State Park and Macedonia Brook State Park, both great for their foliage and overall scenery, with Macedonia ‘s 2300 acres offering extensive leafy trails. In Kent Falls you can admire the falls from the bottom or hike a quarter-mile up the hill and watch the water cascade down 250 feet on its way to join the Housatonic River. Outside of Kent, pick up Route 45 South to Warren. Drive around Lake Waramaug into New Preston. In New Preston, take Route 202 East to Route 47 South. Take a right onto Route 199, and then right on Route 67. Follow Route 67 to the junction of Route 202 in New Milford where this route will take you past the Housatonic River and Bull’s Bridge (one of only two covered bridges in Connecticut). Awesome photo opps. to choose from.
Fairfield County Color Trails: Fairfield County is a beautiful suburban area composed of charming upscale communities and classic New England scenery. Famous for its historic stonewalls and autumn foliage, this county has a lot to offer the outdoor enthusiast, including ideal leaf peeping opportunities via quiet nature walks and bike rides in the area’s many wooded parks.
In this county, towns best known for their fall foliage displays are New Canaan, Ridgefield and Cannondale. Popular scenic routes are Route 7 which travels northward through the countryside all the way through to Massachusetts and the scenic and historic Merritt Parkway, itself named a National Scenic Byway. Begin in Greenwich and take exit 28/Round Hill Road to the renowned Audubon Center. Explore the 295 acre sanctuary with seven miles of trails to enjoy the local color. Get back onto the Merritt and take exit 35/High Ridge Road, turning left onto Route 137 North and visit the Bartlett Arboretum, featuring 91 acres of trails with award-winning trees. Head back to the parkway one more time and take exit 36/Route 106 North, heading toward New Canaan. Veer onto Route 124 by turning right onto Elm Street, then left onto Main Street, which winds directly into Oenoke Road. Take exit 45 off the Merritt onto Route 58 North to Easton and look out for the Aspetuck Reservoir for a quintessential postcard perfect sight.