When and Where to See the Famed Fall Foliage of the East Coast
Let me help you figure out exactly when and where the leaves will explode with color along the East Coast.
If you live in the Mid Atlantic or New England you know fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The leaves put on a show changing from their deep summer greens to red, orange, yellow and sometimes even shades of pink and purple. If you're not from the East Coast and have never seen the leaves change out here it should be something you put on your bucket list ASAP. There's nothing like camping, hiking, kayaking or just taking an afternoon run in the crisp, coolness of fall surrounded by beautiful colors. Below I've outlined when the peak times to see the fall foliage are in each state but what will really help are the maps at the end. And yes, I realize I have skipped over a few of the coastal states but my focus here is on the mountainous regions of the East Coast. But FYI - most of the coast in New England peaks in late October!
Photo: Tate Yoder
Maine transforms in two to three stages. The first to turn is northern and western Maine at the end of the September. The rest of Maine's foliage peaks in early October with the coastal regions sometimes peaking into mid-October as well. Check out Arcadia National Park or Hike to Rocky Pond to experience the fall colors.
Photo: Chris Mongeau
Northern Vermont peaks late September into early October with some of the south of the state peaking into mid-October. Check out Moss Glen Falls to see some beautiful fall leaves surrounding a beautiful waterfall.
Photo: Chris Mongeau
Very similar to Vermont, Northern New Hampshire peaks during late September/early October with the rest of the state following suit into early October/ mid October. Camp at Lafayette Lake Campground and enjoy the amazing fall colors while cozied up next to a warm fire.
Photo: Rebecca Nichols
New York is a big one so there's a lot of changing that goes on. The north/north east of the state changes first in late September. Then the mountains down the center of the state (they run from the top of the state then slightly south west down the state) peaks colors early October and a few will peak at the end of September. The rest of the state (east and west) peaks in mid October!
Photo: Shawn Grenninger
The central part of the state and the center of the north peaks in early October while the rest of the state peaks in mid October. The very southeast of the state peaks in late October. Kayak or Canoe Pine Creek to get a different view of the fall foliage!
Photo: Jason Hatfield
West Virginia is a tricky state to catch the leaves in. While most maps say that the whole state peaks in mid October, the state actually peaks at multiple different times. Check out this map to see the different fall foliage peak months across the state. Backpack the Lions Head Loop in the Dolly Sods Wilderness to see an amazing array of colors and to see some of the darkest night skies on the entire east coast!
Photo: Jess Fischer
Eastern Virginia peaks first in mid October followed by central Virginia in late October and the east coast of the state peaks into early November. Hike to McAfee Knob or Backpack Around Lake Moomaw to enjoy some beautiful scenery and fall colors.
Photo: Mackenzie Roers
North Carolina is very similar to Virginia; the west peaks first in mid October (with some sections high in the Smokies peaking in early October!), then the center of the state peaks in late October with the coast following suit in early November. I highly suggest Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway to not only enjoy endless overlooks but also to do some hiking. One hike off the BRP with an amazing view is Rough Ridge (Milepost 302.8).
Western South Carolina/ Northern Georgia
Photo: Matthew Koehnemann
Northwestern South Carolina is where you'll find a majority of the trees that change colors and they peak in mid October and then to the east of this region the trees will peak in late October. Northern Georgia peaks in mid to late October! Camp at Tallulah Gorge State Park to experience some beautiful campgrounds situated in a 1000 foot deep canyon!
This map is a great resource for the general peak times for fall colors. For more specific maps by state click these links: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Of course not all leaves peak exactly when this map depicts. Rainfall and how hot/cool the summers are play a big factor in whether the leaves start to turn early or take a little bit longer to peak. Browse social media channels or reach out to photographers in the area to ask when they think the best peak times will be! Happy Fall!
Cover photo: Chris Mongeau
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