I'm Kim Knox Beckius, your fall color commentator, and this week, I'll help you make the most of the last few days of September and plan ahead for Halloween fun in New England.
But first, let's take a look at what the leaves are up to and where you should head this weekend if you'd like to increase your chances of viewing foliage at its peak.
I'm just back in Connecticut after spending a week traveling to western and coastal Maine and New York's Hudson Valley, and there is definitely evidence that this will be an earlier foliage season than we've seen in the region in recent years. If you've already made travel plans for the second half of October, however, don't despair. Leaves need not be right at peak to be beautiful, and autumn in New England holds many other delights in addition to colorful landscapes.
If you're planning to hit the road to explore New England this weekend, here are some of your best bets for viewing peak foliage:
In New Hampshire, conditions are peaking in the Great North Woods. It's an ideal time to drive the stretch of Route 3 that runs north from Pittsburg, New Hampshire, to the Canadian border, past the lakes that form the headwaters of the Connecticut River. This road is nicknamed "Moose Alley," and you may just see a big beast in addition to gorgeous leaves.
I checked with The Balsams Grand Resort, a fabulous property located in Dixville Notch in the heart of the Great North Woods, and they still have rooms available for the upcoming weekend. Call them toll free at 877-BALSAMS for rates and reservations.
This will also be a good weekend to explore Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, as conditions there approach peak. Bring your dog! My favorite attraction in the Northeast Kingdom is artist Stephen Huneck's Dog Chapel on Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, where you'll find vibrant trees and plenty of open space to play with your pup.
Vermont is reporting that all areas of the state are exhibiting some color change, with the best foliage viewing currently in the northern third of the state and in the upper elevations of the Green Mountains.
In Maine, your best bet for this weekend is to drive inland to the state's Western Lakes and Mountains Region, where fall foliage will be at or near peak. The Bethel Inn in the center of Bethel makes a great home base for exploring this area, and they still have rooms available for all of you peepers who have procrastinated. Call toll free, 800-654-0125 for reservations.
From Bethel, be sure to drive north to Rangeley and west through Grafton Notch for some of Maine's most scenic autumn vistas.
The color change is still just beginning in most areas of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The most established color in southern New England can be found in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where colors are in the 30 to 40 percent range and especially worth seeing at higher elevations. This may be one of the best weekends of the year to drive to the top of Mount Greylock, where you can climb the 92-foot War Memorial Tower for panoramic views.
Of course, there's so much more to do in New England than look at pretty leaves. Here are my five picks for this weekend's best fall events: