Lisa G Saw
New England in the Fall
New England in the Fall has been on my 'Wish List' for as long as I can remember and now I can finally say I've been and seen the amazingly beautiful autumn colours (October 2016)! I can't quite scratch it off the list though because I liked it so much I know I want to go back, much to the pleasure of my friends who were mad at me for going without them! Since I barely scratched the surface in one week, there's still plenty more to see. On this trip I focused just on Vermont and New Hampshire.
To see which places I visit in New England click on the Maps button to the right. I've also included more information about where I stayed and links to the relevant websites.
The plan was to have only two bases so we didn't spend the whole week living out of a suitcase. Our first four nights we stayed in a fabulous family run B&B called Tucker Hill Inn, located very near Waistfield, Vermont. We arrived in New England about the third week in October and we'd been told it was past 'peak foliage' but we would never have known it as we thought the autumn colours were stunning and there were trees everywhere! I believe the first two weeks in October are supposed to be the best. The blessing for us with our timing was the lack of other traffic and people.
The first day was probably one of best for me because we had wonderful weather, beautiful blue skies and we saw a bit of everything, covered bridges, waterfalls and scenic roads, as we explored the local area. It was a great introduction to our week ahead. The word of the day was 'beautiful'!
On the second day we were hoping to do a hot air balloon flight, but we didn't get to go up due to the conditions that morning. We weren't too disappointed and instead we got to watch some other people who did venture up. After breakfast in a classic American diner we explored Quechee Gorge, saw our first chipmunks of the trip (cue Mission Impssible music - you'll undersatnd when you see the photo) walked around the cute town of Woodstock and gradually made our way back north towards Waitsfield.
It wasn't difficult waking early in the morning, partly due to the time difference, and I was keen to take advantage of the beautiful morning light on a few mornings. The photos 14 to 17 in this group were taken on the third morning. After returning to Tucker Hill Inn for a hearty breakfast we headed west past the Mad River Glen Ski Area and the Appalachian Gap.
Though the weather was not as bright and sunny towards the end of our trip, we still enjoyed all our walks and scenic drives, especially the local Jackson Falls (photos 1 to 4). I actually took photo 4 two days later after some rain and you can see how the tree how changed colour and that there's a lot more water cascading down the falls.
We drove south to Cathedral Ledge, which aforded great views over the area and as a bonus I spotted this cute little chipmunk munching on blades of grass. We could see Echo Lake far below us, which we later walked around. In the height of summer you could imagine the swarms of people who would inevitably flock to the beach here. Along the path at one point a dead tree blocked our way. After I climbed over it I wanted to take a photo of the pattern in the trunk when suddenly a little head popped out and suddenly a chipmunk appeared, probably startled by us. There were three covered bridges in this area and then we drove along a new part of the Kangamagus Highway we'd not yet done, stopping at a few of the scenic stops.
We walked around the cute village of Bristol, drove south to Shoreham and headed towards Lake Champlain and weaved our way up the lakeside (photos 1 to 4). On our final day we headed out early again and saw the morning mist hug the trees. We took in some more covered bridges, drove north to Stowe, where we saw lots of fabulous carved pumpkins, up to Smugglers Notch and then headed east to New Hampshire. I thought once we left the Green Mountains we would see far fewer trees, but this was not the case. A huge blanket of trees seemed to cover the majority of the state and with all the amazing autumn colours, everywhere looked beautiful and all the driving was scenic. Our timing worked out well this day as we managed to avoid any rain and Mount Washington Hotel was bathed in the last light of the day. No, we weren't staying here! We drove onwards to Jackson.
Our last four nights were spent at an old Victorian B&B called the Inn at Jackson built in 1902. It was like stepping back in time. Jackson is nestled in the heart of the White Mountains and was a great place to explore the area from. We hoped we might get to go up Mount Washington via the cog railway. It's the highest peak east of the Rockies, but also known as having the worst mountain weather of any mountain in the world. We left Jackson in sunshine but as we approached Mount Washington we saw it was shrouded in cloud! So, we abandoned that idea and ended up having another stunning day exploring Crawford Notch and Franconia Notch instead, where we saw more stunning views, waterfalls and wildlife. We had a few lovely walks around lakes and through the woods and I especially enjoyed watching a squirrel we stumbled upon (photo 4). I've heard how they cache food in their mount, but this one was collecting leaves and stuffing them into his mouth. It let us watch him for a while before scampering off. Photos 6 to 10 were taken at The Basin in Franconia Notch State Park, which was a really impressive waterfall area and definitely worth a visit.
Just a little further south from The Basin was the impressive Flume Gorge. It's got it all: steep gorge walls, waterfalls, covered bridges, great views and wildlife! We enjoyed a fabulous afternoon exploring here. We finished the day driving along the Kangamagus Highway.
I explored New England with my friend Sarah, who thankfully was very patient with all my photography. We hired a car from Boston airport, a Toyota Camry, which felt like an army tank compared to my usual little Honda Jazz! I had the dubious pleasure of doing the driving, since I lived in America for a year back in the 90s and had more experience driving on the 'wrong' side of the road. Unfortunately, trying to find our way out of Boston at 5pm on a Friday evening was not great timing, but we survived. Thank goodness for sat nav, slow moving traffic, planning ahead and having a vague idea of where we were supposed to be going. The downside was it took us five hours to drive north to Waitsfield, Vermont. Next time I'd definitely either have a night in Boston or find somewhere to stay only an hour or two away.
It rained on our last full day and by now I had developed a cold, so it was nice to have a break from driving and relax. We did a spot of shopping and then spent the afternoon sitting on the wraparound porch chatting, reading and watching the birds and rain. On our final day we managed to avoid the rain most of the day, so we were still able to explore, weaving along quiet country roads, walking around Meredith on the edge of Lake Winniepasaukee, gradually heading back towards Boston.
I had such an amazing week and New England didn't disappoint! Whilst we saw plenty, it was at such a relaxed pace, with no fixed itinerary. Often we just chose a direction to head in and this worked well for us.
I ought not to finish this little adventure without mentioning the food! Our breakfasts were so big every morning we often didn't need to eat much during the day. Tucker Hill Inn was the best for breakfast with virtually everything you could want on offer! We like the Inn at Jackson for it's afternoon cookies! Be warned about portion sizes though when eating out! At one place Sarah and I shared a starter and even though we shared it, it was still double the size it needed to be! It was all tasty though!