It’s no secret that our Great North Country is home to some of the most dazzling fall colors found anywhere in the world. What is less known, though, is how to plan your visit so that you can enjoy peak season while taking part in all of your favorite outdoor activities. We’ve put this guide together to help you plan an unforgettable visit for you and the entire family.
When do the Leaves Change in Northern Vermont and New Hampshire?
In general, the leaves of deciduous trees in the Great North Woods begin their change around mid-September, transitioning from green to a bright yellow, through to brilliant orange and fiery red colors, finally turning brown by late October. However, every year is slightly different, and it can also depend on your specific destination. Use this handy Fall Foliage Tracker to help time your visit!
Where should I go to see the colors?
Pretty much anywhere you go in the Great North will offer spectacular views of the changing trees! There are so many great communities across northern New Hampshire and Vermont to choose from for your next fall getaway. Centrally located near the VT-NH border on the Connecticut River, Colebrook is a stone’s throw from attractions like Dixville Notch State Park and Beaver Brook Falls. Or find peace and quiet for days up on the Canadian boundary waters of Lake Wallace in northern Vermont. You can also explore the charming towns of Littleton, Berlin, Gorham, Randolph, Jefferson, Lisbon, and so many more.
What is there to do during Peak Season in the Great North?
There is no shortage of great outdoor activities to choose from, and they’re all set against the brilliant backdrop of the North Woods’ fall colors! Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself with a backcountry adventure or bring the whole family together to revel in the crisp autumn air, you’re sure to find everything you’re looking for up here.
See the Fall Colors from New HeightsThe Great North Country is home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails for you to roam, stretching across New Hampshire and Vermont. On fall hikes you’ll find stunning vistas that look out on lakes, streams, sunsets and of course huge patches of glowing fall trees. Wherever you stay, you can be sure that there are many nearby trailheads to take you to destinations ranging from waterfalls to mountaintops. Be sure to visit our list of North Country Hikes, and start planning your next visit today!
It’s not too late to join the Go North 9er Hiking Challenge …in fact, fall is our favorite season to climb any or all of the nine peaks in northern New Hampshire and Vermont! The fiery foliage makes the view from the top that much more rewarding, and the cooler temperatures keep things more comfortable, even when the hike is more strenuous. Get the whole family involved! Those who complete the challenge of hiking to the top of all nine peaks get a free patch and official certificate! Go here to sign up and learn more about the Go North 9er Hiking Challenge.
World-Class Hunting & FishingThe North Woods are a sportsman’s paradise! The bountiful land is home to big game, including deer, bear and moose, making it a hunting destination for people all around the world. The raw wilderness and landscapes are also fertile grounds for bird hunting, including pheasant, grouse and woodcock. The months of October and November yield the largest flushes, so bring the dogs and plan your next hunting trip! For more information on hunting in the Great North, including lodging, guides and outfitters, go here.
From Lake Francis to the Connecticut River and chain of Lakes, the Great North offers so many ways to take part in one of our favorite pastimes: fishing! The waterways of northern Vermont and New Hampshire are yours to explore as you search for the next big catch. From wading to boat fishing to floating down a river – or even just dropping a line in Lake Francis and taking a nap by the shore – you’re sure to find the fall fishing experience of a lifetime up here. Visit our Great North Fishing page for more information.
Wildlife ViewingThe North Woods are alive and bustling with activity in the fall! Graceful deer and mighty moose can be seen all over northern Vermont and New Hampshire. If you’re lucky you might even spot a black bear! Bird watching is also in full swing, with loons, grey jays and pheasants all making majestic showings while sharing their unique songs and calls. For the best chances of checking some critters off your list, look into State Parks like Brighton, Jericho Mountain, Lake Francis, or the aptly named Moose Brook State Park. Go here for more information on Wildlife Viewing in the North Country.
Get Out & Explore “The Wilds”
“The Wilds” are a network of ATV trails that stretch across northern Vermont and New Hampshire for thousands of miles. If you’ve never tried ATVing, going over rough roads on a fast four-wheeler is a thrilling experience, but it can also be mellow. With four-passenger ATVs you can bring the whole family out for a picnic on top of a scenic, remote outlook that would be impossible to reach any other way. Bring your own off-road vehicle, or get set up with an ATV rental from one of our local businesses in New Hampshire. Visit our ATV Page to learn more.
Where Can I Stay During a Fall Visit to the North Country?
The best part of our cool autumn nights is getting to cozy up in a nice, warm bed in one of the many charming and comfortable lodges, cabins, cottages, and bed and breakfasts found in the welcoming communities all over Vermont and New Hampshire. Here are a few of our favorite spots, but be sure to check out our Places to Stay page for even more options. You will want to book your stay early, because rooms fill up quickly for peak fall season!
Jackson’s Lodge and Log Cabin Village – Lake Wallace, VTRemote, scenic and serene, Jackson’s Lodge offers a vacation getaway for those looking to unplug from the demands of daily life and reconnect with nature. Situated on the shores of Lake Wallace and just shy of the Canadian border, the historic 1920s lodge and lakeside cabins make an ideal jumping-off point for all your fall color viewing and outdoor adventures. Kayaks, canoes and paddle boats are supplied for guests to enjoy the water, and fully-equipped kitchens and modern accommodations allow you to enjoy the rustic surroundings without sacrificing comfort or convenience. Go here to read more about Jackson’s Lodge and Cabins.
Mohawk Cottages – Colebrook, NHScenic hiking and ATV trails, world-class fishing and hunting, and astonishing stargazing are all at your fingertips when you stay in one of these quaint but modern 2-bedroom cottages. Originally built in 1939, these five cottages hold a special place in this welcoming community of locals and small businesses. Enjoy the crisp, clean fall air from your own private porch, and cuddle up next to the indoor fireplace when you’re ready to warm up. Located just half a mile from downtown Colebrook, each cottage comes equipped with streaming TV, a private bathroom, double beds and a stocked kitchenette. Click here for more information on Mohawk Cottages.
BuckValley Lodge – Errol, NHYou’ll never have to sacrifice comfort for adventure at this exceptional mountain home with lake views. The large living space is well-appointed with cathedral ceilings, an open-concept kitchen and living room space, smart TV, gas fireplace, sleeping loft, WiFi, pool table and more. And then there’s the deck. Step outside to soak in the 180 degree views of Umbagog Lake and the Mahoosic Mountains while grilling dinner or simply sitting and relaxing on the comfortable patio furniture. A truly unique and special place to enjoy the fall colors with the whole family. More info here.
At Bear Tree – Pittsburgh, NHNestled away on The Glen, a peninsula on First Connecticut Lake, this charming hideaway offers comfortable accommodations with a rustic feel. Access to fishing, boating and other nearby outdoor activities is found alongside fine dining at Murphy’s Steakhouse. At Bear Tree is also a great destination for retreats, weddings and other large groups. Learn more here.
North Woods Lodging – Colebrook, NHWith a three-bedroom farmhouse in downtown Colebrook and a rustic cabin located just minutes from Lake Francis, North Woods Lodging offers pet-friendly stays in the heart of the North Country. Read more about North Woods Lodging.
What’s to Eat Up There?
New Hampshire and Vermont offer excellent dining options to satisfy a true northern appetite. With locally-grown produce, meats and our world-famous maple sugar, you will be sure to find many restaurants to choose from, including everything from casual eats to fine dining. And make sure you save room for dessert! We’ve also got lots of ice cream shops and candies and confections to satisfy your sweet tooth. Explore North Country Dining here.
Restaurant Spotlight: Rainbow Grille and Tavern – Pittsburgh, NHOriginally an oasis for backcountry fishermen and hunters, Rainbow Grille and Tall Timber Lodge have been a must-stop attraction since 1946. These days, it offers award-winning fine dining and drinks to visitors from around the globe who come to experience life in the North Country. The menu features everything from seafood to steak to bison, elk and venison, as well as poultry and pasta. Treat yourself and your family to a true northern dining experience in a rustic and welcoming setting, conveniently located near New Hampshire’s northernmost town. Visit the Rainbow Grille Page to learn more.
Catch your own dinner!There’s nothing more satisfying than preparing your own catch of the day for dinner. You’ve never had trout or salmon this fresh before! Many of the accommodations mentioned above offer facilities for cleaning and cooking your own fish, including kitchens and grills. Ambitious hunters can even bring their game meats to the dinner table. Just be sure to check with your lodging provider to see what is available on or near their premises. North Country hunting outfitters will also be able to point you in the direction of meat processing services and facilities.