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    Foliage in Massachusetts: an itinerary to discover the most beautiful colors of the state

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    Joel Fulleda

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    Every year when autumn arrives, the six small states that make up New England in the north-east of the country become the undisputed protagonists, a concentration of charm. The show that Mother Nature offers is staged when the colors of the leaves explode with red, yellow and orange; it is the long-awaited moment of the foliage that gives visual impacts of great intensity to which it is impossible to remain indifferent.

    It is an exciting phenomenon and for those who particularly love this season it even has a therapeutic value. Today we venture into Massachusetts, a rectangular strip of land in which there are mountainous and hilly areas alternating with villages, towns, coastal plains, large bays, without forgetting the beautiful Boston. Our itinerary starts from the west and moves towards the east. We are happy to be in the Bay State, so nicknamed for the presence on the eastern side of the spectacular bays of Massachusetts, Cape Cod and Buzzards.


    • The locations of the Fall Foliage in Massachusetts
      • The Berkshires region
      • Western Massachusetts
      • Central Massachusetts
      • North Shore
      • Greater boston
      • South shore
    • Massachusetts Scenic Byways
      • Mohawk Trail
      • Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway
      • Interstate 91
      • Le altre scenic byways
    • Events in season
    • Foliage in other states

    The locations of the Fall Foliage in Massachusetts

    The region of Berkshires

    The hilly region of BerkshiresOnce an exclusive holiday resort for the well-heeled, it vertically occupies the westernmost strip of the state. It is a beautiful natural area that we travel from north to south dotted with small villages where you can breathe a peaceful atmosphere and the combination with the foliage is essential.

    We are now close to the Vermont border in the town of North adams, where we cross the Main Street with its historic buildings and tall bell towers, but above all we enjoy the chromatic context of the whole which we continue to enjoy also at Natural Bridge State Park (1 MacAuley Rd.) Where a natural white marble arch (unique in North America) towers over an 18 meter gorge. What to say? Nature is always fascinating but during the foliage everything acquires another "flavor".

    We go down towards Pittsfield, capital of the Berkshires and the only urban agglomeration in the area that with 45.000 inhabitants can be defined as a city. Let's dedicate some time to visit Park Square, the heart of the district of the same name and then at 780 Holmes Road, our attention is captured by the colors of the trees and by "people" who are playing baseball in the garden in front of the house, but we are in the car and we have to go back for a better look. In fact it is about Arrowhead, the house where he lived from 1850 to 1863 Herman Melville who wrote here Moby Dick. The tree-lined garden, now at its chromatic best, hosts a curious baseball-themed curtain in which the statues that reproduce the players with the uniforms of that time seem real.

    Other pleasant foliage sceneries then accompany us up to State Forest (1041 Cascade St.) a forest area where in addition to the beauty of Berry Pond, you can follow trails ideal for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The arrival of autumn is also the moment in which we prepare well and in advance for the celebration of Halloween and then we try to do it too at York Valley Farm in Hancock (3475 MA-43) where pumpkins, carriage tours, a labyrinth, animals and local products let us fully immerse ourselves in the atmosphere that on weekends from mid-September to the end of October we live here and in many others scattered farms in the area.

    Then our journey takes us through the Lenox area known for Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and for the presence of some historic villas, but our destination is Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (472 W. Mountain Rd.), A natural area full of trails with different levels of difficulty. Around us there are meadows, lake areas and slopes. What more could you want in the moment of foliage in contact with nature? This is the habitat of the beavers who live in the ponds and if you are lucky it may happen to meet them.

    Campbell Falls

    Heading south, in New Marlborough, we stop at Campbell Falls, waterfalls 15 meters high reachable via a path surrounded by nature. They are also nicknamed zig zags because they don't appear vertical from some angles. Near the Connecticut border, the tiny village of Mount Washington, named in honor of the first president, embodies the beauty of the Bash Bish Waterfalls, the largest waterfalls in Massachusetts 18 meters high with various water falls that further enhance the scenery. They are reached via a forest path and from the top of the falls the view stretches from Massachusetts to the state of New York. Remarkable!

    Western Massachusetts

    Leave the Berkshires, the westernmost “slice” of the state, next to it the named area awaits us Western Massachusetts known for the Connecticut River Valley agricultural area. Our exploration begins near Corlain, a small town near the border with Vermont where, immersed in the foliage, theArthur A. Smith Covered Bridge (1 Lyonsville Rd.) Is a covered bridge in deep red and orange colors that would blend in with the landscape of the moment if it weren't for the light gray roof.

    And our "triumphal" march continues towards Old Deerfield (84B Old Main St.-Deerfield), where we are happily catapulted into 18th century New England. We stroll through a splendid “open-air museum” with historic houses and the refined Deerfield Inn hotel dating back to 1884 which takes us back to the colonial period. The colors of the foliage and the cute squirrels make this picture enchanting.

    Going south we visit Springfield which with approximately 153.000 inhabitants is the largest city in the area and the third largest in Massachusetts. We familiarize ourselves with the environment surrounded by rolling hills and we notice among the various buildings Victorian architectures that we like so much. Even though we are in a large urban agglomeration, the city abounds in green areas in which to appreciate nature starting from Connecticut River Walk Park, a park that runs along the river for several kilometers, then the Forest Park (299 Summer Ave.), a beautiful natural area of ​​300 hectares designed by the creator of Central Park in New York, with trees that are tinged with the colors of the foliage and a body of water in which they are reflected. The area is home to a zoo, recreational areas, sculptures and the farmer's market where farmers display and sell their produce. Leaving the city, along the I-91, we meet the Basketball Hall of Fame. Basketball was born right here in Springfield and this sport in the States is one of the most popular together with baseball and football.

    Central Massachusetts

    Our journey is exciting and the colors convey energy. We are ready and energized to continue our march to discover the Central Massachusetts. Here, too, the hilly views are enhanced at this time of the year. In the area is the second largest city in the state, Worcester. Here there are parks that are ideal for strolling and relaxing; we mention Elm Park, Green Hill Park and the Botanical Garden. And since autumn is the right time to see areas like these in New England, we set off in the direction of Belchertown to Quabbin Reservoir, the largest inland water reserve in Massachusetts built between 1930 and 1939 in an area now "kissed" by foliage.

    Quabbin Reservoir

    Then the next destination takes us to one of the most evocative places in the area, theOld sturbridge village (1 Old Sturbridge Village Rd.- Sturbridge), the largest "living" museum in New England that covers eighty hectares and reproduces the life of a village in this part of the States from 1790 to 1830. We walk among water mills , we cross a farm and then enter the various buildings where ancient crafts are represented. We are in another temporal dimension and when we reach the pond with the covered bridge the enchantment of the colors of the foliage that frame it and that are reflected in the water gives life to a particularly suggestive image.

    New England is a big draw these days and we continue to enjoy every corner of it. We continue to Paxton to enjoy the Moore State Park (1 Sawmill Rd.) A beautiful nature park featuring rhododendrons, red maples, mountain laurel, white pines and azaleas. This environment also surprises us with its small lake and waterfall. It is a good location for canoeing, fishing and hiking but we opt for a scenic picnic.

    Wachusett Mountain

    And then we ask ourselves: why not enjoy the beauty of Massachusetts also from above? No sooner said than done, we go to Princeton al Wachusett Mountain State Reservation (345 Mountain Rd.) Where the homonymous mountain rises to 611 meters. Pedestrian and cycle paths reach the top of the mountain from which you can admire all the autumn splendor; a really nice natural landscape. This location is also ideal for having a snack taking advantage of the special areas.

    North Shore

    Our advance is "inexorable" but always with an eye to the clock because there are so many things we would like to do and the places where we should stop. We are now in the named zone North Shore overlooking theAtlantic Ocean; we admire autumnal landscapes between beaches and rocky coastal areas but there are also rural inland areas with farms. You can take boat tours to enjoy the beauty of the coastal landscape and meet whales, a choice that we highly recommend.

    And then there is Salem, a pretty town known not so much for its maritime activity but above all for the Witch Trial of 1692, the witch hunt. The memory of this story is more vivid than ever in the town and it is also a reason for local business, in fact the activities and shops linked to this reality are countless; the articles proposed are nothing short of extravagant. Of course, in this city Halloween is a very heartfelt holiday and throughout the month of October (mainly in the evening) people go out and wear costumes or something on the subject.

    Al Lappin Park (237-245 Essex St.) was erected statue di Elizabeth Montgomey, the actress who played Samantha in Bewitched. But after the witches and the Halloween atmosphere, our attention in the city is captured by the historic districts with graceful buildings and beautiful tree-lined areas repainted with foliage.

    Eastern Point Lighthouse Cape Ann

    We would love to stay here again but it awaits us Cape Ann, a rocky headland in northern Massachusetts Bay where the lobster-related fishing industry thrives. Even in this coastal area the colors are "bright" and we are ready to look for the most photogenic areas. We cross the village of Essex which houses the small Chebacco Lake and the Shipbuilding Museum where sea life is the protagonist, then we continue in the direction Rockport for a pleasant walk in the area of Bearskin Neck. Off the beaten track we point out the Paper House (52 Pigeon Hill St.) a house built entirely of paper, very special.

    Manchester by the Sea

    Beautiful images continue in the country of Gloucester and then in the natural reserve of Ravenswood Park (481 Western Ave.) between the autumn colors of the forest and Fernwood Lake. Also worth a visit Goose Cove Reservoir (55 Gee Ave.) with its scenic views between green areas, rocky coasts and paths where deer, beavers and herons dwell. We conclude our exploration of Cape Ann at Manchester by the Sea where we appreciate the beauty of nature between scenic corners, beaches, protected areas and small caves along the coast.

    Greater Boston

    The time has come to go down to the Greater Boston, the great ring that surrounds the state capital with its "satellite" districts and where more than 80% of the population lives. Even this area full of places of historical importance receives the colors and benefits of foliage in terms of spectacularity and influx of tourists. In the beautiful Boston, the capital of Massachusetts and the most populous city in New England, the twenty hectares of the park Boston common (139 Tremont St.) and the nearby Boston Public Garden burst with color just steps from Massachusetts State House (24 Beacon St.), the capitol where the golden dome stands out, and then in the characteristic district of Beacon Hill the brick buildings create a harmonious effect with the golden colors of the leaves and the pumpkins positioned on the threshold of the doors.

    Boston Common

    The Charles River divides Boston from Cambridge, home to the famous Harvard University. It is pleasant to wander both by car and on foot among historic buildings, the college and the many squares that have earned it the title of city of squares. The urban landscape is enlivened by the presence of trees with autumnal colors. We conclude our itinerary in Greater Boston in Milton at the Blue Hills Reservation (695 Hillside St.) where coyotes, red foxes and white-tailed deer live among swamps, meadows and forests brushed by foliage. This is a good location for lovers of walking and mountain biking. Inside the park you can also reach the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, a weather station with a view of Boston and the surrounding areas.

    South shore

    The area of South Shore it is located between Boston and the Cape Cod peninsula. Here you will find seaside resorts, rural agglomerations, suburban and industrial towns but there is also nature which in this period gives its best with red, yellow and orange hues. example at Hingham in the park World's End (Martins Ln.), From which you can also see Boston in the distance, or to Carver alla Myles Standish State Forest (194 Cranberry Rd.).

    We are surrounded by lakes and forests with pine and oak trees that show their radiant colors during this period. We are in the habitat of deer, turtles and birds. The most famous resort in this area is Plymouth on the border with the Cape Cod peninsula. Even in the downtown area of ​​this town of tourist and historical importance due to the landing of the pilgrim fathers in 1620, we note that the foliage is present so in this period the charm and attractiveness double.

    In a south-easterly direction we quickly reach the well-known peninsula of Cape Cod, with a characteristic hook shape. Late October is the best time to admire in this part of Massachusetts the red and golden leaves that surround the beige of the sandy beaches. In autumn, everything becomes quieter, the coasts are almost lonely, in the pretty villages of the peninsula you can breathe a relaxed atmosphere and taste the cranberries, typical cranberries of the area.

    We begin our exploration fromUpper Cape, the area closest to the mainland with lakes, streams and islets, after which we take a walk in the historic district of Falmouth. In Mid Cape, the central part of the peninsula, we meet the towns of Sandwich (historic district),  Barnstable (port, lighthouse and lake),  Yarmouth (lakes and beaches) e Dennis (Scargo Lake), each with individual characteristics ideal for making a pleasant visit but always with an eye to the foliage scenery. The area named Lower Cape, in the part that tends towards the characteristic hook of the peninsula, welcomes us with the village of Brewster where we visit the Nickerson State Forest between small lakes and pines.

    In the village of Wellfleet we visit the Cape Cod National Seashore (99 Marconi Site Rd.), A nearly 177 square kilometer park created in 1961 by John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Here nature is the protagonist with small lakes, coniferous forests, dunes, rocks and beaches. There is also the Nauset Light, one of the most photographed lighthouses of the peninsula and the Marconi Station where the first wireless transatlantic radio transmission took place.

    And from our list now we just have to tick Provincetown, a pretty coastal town located in the tip of the hook, with beaches, the port with fishing boats and the Race Point Light, a location now embellished with autumn colors. But in summer the town is so popular that 3.000 / 50 visitors are added to its 60.000 inhabitants. A few kilometers north of Race Point it is possible to observe the passage of whales, a spectacle that takes your breath away! If you want to book accommodation in this destination, move in time, perhaps taking a look at our tips on how to find a hotel in Provincetown.

    When on the Cape Cod Peninsula it is good to take advantage of the proximity of two islands reachable by ferry that are worth a visit: the picturesque Martha's Vineyard with beaches, ponds, sand dunes, lighthouses, fishing villages, churches, rustic and hilly areas but also more exclusive locations where you can relax while enjoying splendid views without forgetting a prominent event, the Food & Wine Festival which takes place in the third week of October for an extraordinary four-day culinary full immersion. And then there is Nantucket Island which in the language of the Algonquian Indians means distant land or island, quieter and less crowded, with sailboats, fishing villages, lighthouses, beaches and green areas mainly of pines and bushes.

    Massachusetts Scenic Byways

    Massachusetts is even more appreciated by exploring what can be defined as some of the most beautiful scenic roads of the United States.

    Mohawk Trail

    Il Mohawk Trail (part of Route 2 and Route 2B - Greenfield, Shelburne Falls, Charlemont and North Adams) horizontally crosses the northwest corner from Athol to Williamsburg with views of the Berkshires for much of the way. Near Charlemont we point out Hail to the Sun, a beautiful bronze statue of a Mohawk Indian saluting the great spirit and the Bridge of Flowers at Shelburne Falls, a footbridge 112 meters long and 5 meters wide pleasantly adorned throughout its length with flowers and plants; it's something you don't see every day. From the town of Adams we recommend that you drive to the top of the Mount Greylock and from there observe the panorama.

    Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway

    In the hilly area of ​​the Berkshires the Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway (Route 20 - Lee, Chester, Russell, Huntington) traverses lake views (Laurel Lake to Lee), flanks a 342-meter rock called Teko Mountain that overlooks the gorge carved by a river (at Montgomery and Russell) and encounters rural scenery particularly active in October, the month of Halloween and the celebration of the harvest.

    Interstate 91

    THEInterstate 91 (Springfield, Northampton, South Deerfield, Greenfield) leads to the Pioneer Valley, in the western part of the country between rural areas, rolling hills, fields, and rivers. Along the way we make a small stop at Greenfield's Main Street Historic District because we notice some Victorian buildings we can't resist

    . In South Deerfield you should visit it Yankee Candle Store (25 Greenfield Rd.), The parent company of the world famous candle maker of the same name. But that's not all, the store is much more, it is also a real attraction that also includes the village with the snow and the physical presence of Santa Claus during the Christmas period; a really nice atmosphere and a place not to be missed if you are not very far away.

    Le altre scenic byways

    La Connecticut River Scenic Byway (Route 63 & Route 47-Northfield, Montague, Sunderland, Hadley), in the west of the country, crosses hills, farms, forests and towns proud of their little historic districts.

    To the north-east we point out the Essex Costal Scenic Byway (Highway 1A and Highway 1) which runs through pretty Salem and the towns of Lynn and Salisbury along the coast. Here the scenic views range from historical sites to beaches with the presence of foliage around.

    On the Cape Cod peninsula we point out the old king’s Highway (Route 6A-Bourne, Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Brewster, Orleans) near the beach among natural beauty, tree-lined streets, historic districts and small shops.

    Events in season

    Attend some of the many Events allows you to get the most out of a trip and is a way to delve into the local reality and experience it fully. 3rd Thusday (North St.-Downtown) takes place in Pittsfield, in the Berkshires. From May to October, every third Thursday of the month from 17 to 20 pm the main street comes alive with musicians, street artists, artisans and there is no lack of local food. Then in October many adults, children, and even dogs, wear Halloween themed costumes and the party takes on more pronounced tones.

    In the third week of September Prowse Farm is pleased to organize the Festival At The Farm (5 Blue Hillmriver Rd.-Canton, Greater Boston) which ranges from live music to crafts, animal shows to farmers' markets and local produce to cooking demonstrations.

    At the end of September in Deerfield (Western Massachusetts) the Old Deerfield Craft Fair (10 Memorial St.) is an indoor fair where more than 150 artisans demonstrate their skills and sell their handiwork.

    The first Sunday of October takes place the Fall Foliage Parade at North Adams in the Berkshires, an annual themed event in a fully autumnal setting. The parade crosses Main Street and ends at Ashland Street. The more the participants give free rein to their imagination, the more successful the parade is and when the theme, for example, is “The magic in the Berkshires”, then there are no limits.

    Throughout the month of October they are held in Salem (north of Boston) Hunted Happenings, a series of fall themed events celebrating Halloween with parades, costume balls, live music, palmistry and ghost tours.

    THEHarvestFestival is an event that takes place in mid-October in Pittsfield at The Common on the First park. Fun is guaranteed with pumpkins to paint, booths where you can take extravagant selfies, live music, farmers' market and food stalls.

    In the mountain village of Princeton, in Central Massachusetts, in mid-October comes the time ofApple Feast (499 Mountain Rd.) With live music, craft vendors, pony laughs and lots of apples: caramelized, in the form of a cake or used to extract good cider.

    La Great Pumpkin Nights (Ecotarium Museum - 222 Harrington Way) is the end of October event in Worcester in Central Massachusetts. In an interactive, scientific and exploratory context, which among the various activities studies dinosaurs and deals with animals together with their habitat, more than 3.000 pumpkins are illuminated and carved reproducing animals of the savannah. Participants are encouraged to wear Halloween themed costumes.

    Foliage in other states

    The beauty of the colors of the foliage is a phenomenon that affects all the states of New England, here are our tips to enjoy the autumn season in the other states:

    • Foliage in Vermont
    • Foliage in New Hampshire 
    • Foliage in Maine
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