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Get in Your Car and Chase Down Some Fall Foliage

There is a bright side to autumn’s shorter days: the subtractive hours of daylight trigger deciduous trees to put on their annual show. And what a production it is. Fall foliage is peaking throughout the Northeast, and the spectacle is only a car ride away.

Precipitation, wind and temperature affect the timing of foliage, as well as the intensity, color types and amount of time leaves remain on the trees. But predicting peak viewing is as unspecific as it is imprecise: majestic colors can be seen two weeks before and two weeks after peak in a region once it arrives. Additionally, colors can vary from one adjacent mountainside to another, so you don’t need to operate under “emergency foliage viewing” mode. Granted, the show is on a limited run and if you wait too long you’ll be seeing Christmas lights instead of leaves.

Here are a few options for fall foliage jaunts, listed from nearest to farthest away.

Tucked away in the eastern part of Connecticut is the “quiet corner” of the Nutmeg State: Route 169 (just off of I-395) offers 32 miles of bucolic beauty, snaking through picturesque towns such as Pomfret , Brooklyn, Canterbury and Woodstock. It’s not far away, but you’ll feel transported to a more peaceful time.

Or, drive a little farther -- over the border to Massachusetts, where you can catch fall foliage via surf or turf. If you choose “turf,” then the Berkshires are your best bet. Head up Route 7 and drive straight into the heart of the beautiful Berkshire Hills, from Sheffield all the way up to Williamstown . If you care to infuse a lobster lunch into your fall foliage plans, Cape Cod’s famed Route 6A (Old King’s Highway) affords you exquisite views of autumn-hued hills -- with an ocean backdrop (and plenty of lobster roll options).

Ah, Vermont . The Green Mountain State’s autumn show is dazzling no matter which seat you have in the house – or car. While the northern part of the state is just about past its prime foliage viewing time, there are plenty of colorful leaves still on the trees to the south. There are dozens of scenic routes to explore, among them: Route 11 between Peru and Chester, Route 30 between Winhall and Newfane , Route 7A between Manchester and Bennington, Route 35 from Townshend to Grafton and Route 9 between Bennington and Brattleboro. A little farther north, here are some suggested roadways perfect for viewing the scenery: Route 4 west from West Bridgewater to Killington and Sherburne Pass (Killington Ski Area access road); Route 103 north from Ludlow to Route 7; Route 140 west from Mt. Holly to Wallingford and Middletown Springs; Route 155 north from Weston to East Wallingford; and Route 7 south from Middlebury to Brandon.

Venture north to the Adirondacks – a six million-acre park deemed, "Forever Wild" – and you’ll be treated to a premiere autumn event. Freckled with quaint towns and sparkling lakes, the Adirondack Region is now on full autumnal display. Drive along one of the region's 12 Scenic Byways, among them: Lakes to Locks Passage , Mohawk Towpath Byway, Adirondack Trail , Black River Trail, Central Adirondack Trail and Dude Ranch Trail.

Be sure to send us your photos upon your return. Happy trails, and have a safe journey.

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