Fall Foliage New Hampshire: How and Where to See the Leaves


Traveling in 2021? Please check with each state/destination for its current COVID-19 guidelines, as these are constantly changing and the most accurate, up-to-date information may not be reflected here.

*Links in this article may be affiliate links, from which we may earn commission. See our Privacy Policy for full details.

New Hampshire is known for its spectacular scenery; as summer fades into fall, the scenery only gets better! Fall foliage in New Hampshire is incredible and it’s one of New England’s must-visit spots, with so many fantastic places to go to watch the incredible color progression take place. 

New Hampshire is full of great places to visit and wonderful spots for a fun-filled weekend getaway any time of the year, but fall brings a phenomenal amount of awesome things to see and do in the Granite State! Some of the cutest small towns in the state show up big with fabulous autumn activities like apple-picking, pumpkin-picking, and corn-mazing.

Every fall, New Hampshire’s dense forests begin to cycle from their deep green to the crisp yellows, ruddy oranges, and bright crimsons of autumn before finally releasing from their branches in a swirl of color. “Peak colors” are these hues at their most vivid and this varies from year to year based on natural conditions such as weather, but mid-September to mid-October is generally a safe bet for when to expect to see gorgeous autumn colors in NH. 

Color typically begins in the Great North Woods and progresses north to south down the state, starting in higher elevations first, but you can follow a real-time fall foliage tracker here. Even outside of peak colors, New Hampshire fall foliage is a stunning visual backdrop for all the awesome things to see and do while visiting the Live Free or Die State!

Go for a Waterfall Walk

What better way to enjoy the vivid hues of New Hampshire’s fall foliage than to see these blazing colors surrounding one of New Hampshire’s gorgeous waterfalls? There are so many beautiful waterfalls across the state, with varying degrees of difficulty to get to, so it just depends on how much effort you want to put forth to get to that waterfall!

If you’d like to have the waterfall experience without the hike, check out Silver Cascade waterfall in Hart’s Location. There is a parking lot on the opposite side of the road, so all you have to do is cross the road and look out and over this incredible waterfall with a dramatic 600-foot drop!

Take a Scenic NH Drive

Colorful trees along an empty highway

One of the best parts of visiting New Hampshire in the fall is that just driving from point A to point B is a beautiful experience! One of the best scenic drives in New England is the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, a 34.5-mile route that carries you through some of the best views in the state.

The White Mountains are bursting with color in autumn, and there are plenty of opportunities to pull off to the side of the road and marvel in it if you’d like! Driving the Kanc will take you from Lincoln to Conway, where you’ll find plenty of side trip fun during your scenic drive. Bonus: North Conway is one of the most charming towns in New England to visit in the fall.

Visit the Castle in the Clouds

One of New Hampshire’s remaining “castles,” Castle in the Clouds was built in 1914 as an extravagant, state of the art country estate that encompassed 6,300 acres of beautiful terrain. Touring the mansion and hiking and exploring the gorgeous grounds and pond are fun to do any time, but come fall, this majestic castle is gloriously situated amid some spectacular fall foliage. Expansive views are found all around the property, and what better way to take in peak colors than to do so from a classic New England castle?

Laze about at the Lake

Lake in new hampshire in the fall under a pastel sky

New Hampshire has some lovely lakes, and getting out on them is a fantastic way to take in the fall foliage views! Experience Squam offers a great guided lake tour of Squam Lake as autumn colors are taking over the trees that surround it, or if you’d prefer a nice meal along with your tour, check out a brunch or dinner tour with Mount Washington, New Hampshire’s cruise ship company. Enjoy the local fare while you take in the stunning fall foliage that surrounds Lake Winnipesaukee, one of the most beautiful places in all of New Hampshire.

Get a Birds-Eye View

Yes, the autumn colors are absolutely gorgeous from the ground looking up, but how about the view from above? For those looking for a nice adrenaline rush to go along with their fall foliage views, there are activities like hot air ballooning or ziplining.

If you’re looking for something that puts you high enough to see the tops of the trees without the heart racing heights and speeds, check out a scenic chairlift ride at Cranmore Mountain Resort, one of the best ski resorts in NH. They also have a mountain coaster, which is another fabulously fun way to zip through the fantastic fall colors! 

Get out on the Trail

Woman on a rock looking at mountains in the fall, fall foliage in new hampshire

There are so many amazing hikes across New Hampshire, it’d be more difficult to find a hike that doesn’t offer a shot at seeing some gorgeous fall color than it would be to find one! There are plenty of hikes that will offer phenomenal views, and Artist’s Bluff and Bald Mountain in Franconia Notch do the trick very nicely.

This 1.5-mile loop trail is a relatively easy climb to a stunningly scenic payoff of the densely forested Franconia Notch valley, Echo Lake, and the mountain ranges that surround it, and this view of the vivid fall colors surrounding beautiful Echo Lake is very well-photographed as peak colors approach, so be ready to take some great fall foliage pics of your own!

READ NEXT  13 Amazing Things to Do in Franconia, New Hampshire

Cozy it Up in a Cute Cabin

Brown log cabin around fall foliage

New Hampshire is full of cozy little (and not so little!) vacation rentals that provide a perfect base camp for all your fun fall adventures. There are many absolutely dreamy cabins to choose from, like this awesome two-story treehouse just right up the road from Mount Sunapee’s Annual Fall Foliage Pig Roast & BBQ.

Of course, there are many lovely cabins that are perfectly situated for fall festival fun in the White Mountains, like the White Mountain Oktoberfest at Loon Mountain offering great food, music, games, and killer views, plus all the other fun things to do in the White Mountains, too!

Hitch a Ride on the Train

Train ride in New Hampshire during the fall
Editorial credit: Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

Leaf peepin’ has never been so easy! Buy your ticket and All Aboard for a ride through the gorgeous scenery of Mount Washington Valley and Crawford Notch on Conway Scenic Railroad. Even the main train station is a sight to see, as it is a beautifully kept classic Victorian station that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Mountaineer delivers a whopping dose of scenic sights, as it travels high above the highway and offers phenomenal views of Crawford Notch.

Reserve your ticket as soon as you can, this route sells out quick during leaf peeping season! There’s also the Cog Railway that will take you a dramatic 6,288-feet up to the summit of Mount Washington, the highest mountain peak in the Northeast. Views are about as dramatic on the Cog Railway as the ride up and down this steep incline is!

There are so many ways to get out and enjoy the grandeur of New Hampshire’s fall foliage season and as far as New England fall foliage options go, New Hampshire is always a solid bet. Have some great leaf peeping fun, New Hampshire style!