The changing of the leaves from the many shades of summer green to the beautiful colors of autumn is the result of the tree’s natural process of shifting the sugars and starches from their leaves to their roots for winter storage. The colors are always there, but as the green is removed the underlying colors are exposed to show their flaming glory before they return to the earth to nourish the tree in the following years.
Local TV stations will give you day-by-day updates on where the peak foliage colors are. Here are some of my favorite day trips to see mother nature in her crowning glory. Make sure you bring your camera!
My absolutely favorite trip to see the foliage is along Route 7 in the heart of the Berkshires. If you can only take a day to see the foliage, this is the drive you should take. The colors usually peak in the first two weeks of October. Best way to get there is to go west on Route 2 until you hit the end/NY border and then head south on Route 7. While there, be sure to take a detour on Route 20 into Hancock and the Shaker Village where you get a tremendous view of the Taconic Range to the west. It feels like you’ve gone back in history a couple hundred years.
Anywhere along the Connecticut river (starting in Hadley is usually my route and then going north until I hit Route 2) should be in full color from October first through the middle of the month. There are some spectacular farms and bottom-lands where you can also see local pheasants and woodcocks picking over the corn drops and asparagus berries.
Route 2 west, also known locally as the Mohawk Trail, is especially beautiful in the area between the Connecticut river and the Berkshires. While on your way there, be sure to stop at all the furniture outlets in Gardner, where you can find some great bargains, and don’t forget to have lunch at the Ale House in the square. Once you get into the Berkshires, you should drive through Charlemont to Williamstown (surprize the family at the hairpin curve when you get to the Whitcomb summit, it’s a blast).
In mid-October the foliage usually hits the north-shore of Boston, and a wonderful drive past the farms and coastal villages starts on Route 133, going through Essex, Ipswitch and Georgetown. There are usually little farm stands with local produce and baked goods and I rarely come back without a trunk-full of goodies.
Later in October, from the 15th pretty much until mid-November, your best foliage is found at the Cape (Cape Cod). Tour Route 6a starting in Hyannis or Yarmouth and go as far west as your time allows for a liesurely drive to enjoy the many shades of red, orange and gold. For an extra treat, if you’re going south from the Boston area, you should get there by driving down Route 58 through Carver, as the cranberry bogs will be brilliant red and ripe with berries.
I think this year will be an excellent fall foilage season with some of the most brilliant colors we’ve had in years. So get out there and join the legions of “Leaf-Peepers” this year, you’ll be glad you did.