Hail to the leaf from the seat of a car, train, bike, chairlift, dogsled, ATV or zipline; there’s more than one way to enjoy leaf peeping in foliage-central, Mt Washington Valley, NH
North Conway, NH – Mt Washington Valley, located in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire and in the shadow of the tallest peak in the Northeast, offers up a spectacle of color unmatched anywhere else in the USA. And this year is no exception. Despite predictions for a lackluster fall, Mt Washington Valley’s fall foliage season is taking off with the brilliant harvest hues it’s famous for. Depending on where you are in the Valley, you’ll find color at anywhere from 15-percent to close to 45-percent peak in the Northern areas at the end of September according to the New Hampshire fall foliage tracker, a timely tool to use to check fall color.
Come “hail to the leaf” in a wide variety of creative ways like from the seat of a train, zipline, or ATVs, or behind the putter or petal. Here are some conventional and a few unconventional suggestions for viewing Mt. Washington Valley’s fall foliage. Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce challenges visitors to try them all! Visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org and click on EVENTS for a complete list of fall events to augment your leaf peeping itinerary.
From The Seat of a Train: Mt. Washington Valley offers a number of different train rides year round, and fall rides add that spectacle of color to the views. Book your seat on the Mt Washington Cog Railway and take this famous train ride to the top of Mt. Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast, or enjoy fabulous scenic tours to Conway, Bartlett and Crawford Notch on the Conway Scenic Railroad. Click here for a complete list of Mt. Washington Valley’s trains and attractions.
From the Top of the Notch: Scenic drives through Pinkham Notch to Gorham or Crawford Notch to Bretton Woods offer everything from ridge top vistas and rock formations to moose sightings. Be sure to have the camera ready because around every turn there’s a new surprise.
From the back of a dogsled: It doesn’t have to be winter to enjoy dogsledding in Mt Washington Valley. Take in the gorgeous fall foliage from the trails in and around Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel where the runners are removed from the dog sleds and replaced with wheels in the spring and fall. Drive the sled yourself of sit and take in the view as the dogs mush their way through gorgeous trails.
From the Moose Van: What could add to the thrill of Mother Nature’s fall artistry any more than a moose sighting? Take a ride along the picturesque Androscoggin River and into the 13-Mile Woods area or travel into "Moose Alleys" in other parts of the Valley on a choice of spectacular and scenic Moose/Wildlife Tours. As many as 23 moose have been spotted in one tour. Tours also includes folklore and historic features of the region. Choose from Gorham Moose Tours and MWV Moose Bus Tours/Moose Safari and get ready for a thrill.
From a Gondola, Chair Lift or Zipline: Get high for the beautiful fall foliage vistas from the seat of a gondola, zipline or chairlift, that is. For those who’d rather not hike up, take the lift. A scenic ride on the Wildcat Gondola or the high-speed quad at Attitash or Bretton Woods Adventure Center offers fabulous picnic grounds and views into Mt. Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine or over the whole Bartlett region. For a truly "zipalicious" view of foliage, try the zip line at Wildcat, the Canopy Tour at Bretton Woods, Soaring Eagle at Cranmore Adventure Park, high ropes courses at Monkey Trunks High Ropes & Zipline Adventure Park or the ZipTour at Attitash – the longest single zipline span in the East! There are so many ways to reach new heights while soaring above Mt Washington Valley’s fall foliage.
From the Pumpkin People Tour: Each year, a highlight of foliage season is "The Return of the Pumpkin People" now in its 32nd year. Businesses throughout Mt. Washington Valley create whimsical displays of pumpkin people; the only requirement being that the heads are made of pumpkins. Take a self-guided tour of the pumpkin people and vote on your favorite from Oct 1-31, 2015. At least a dozen of the pumpkin people will be located at Settlers Green Outlet Village. Maps available at participating properties and online at JacksonNH.com. And this year, add in the “All Things Pumpkin” festival throughout Jackson for a true celebration of pumpkin carving, tasting and more.
From the top of the roller coaster or ferris wheel: Whether the thrill comes from the ride or the colorful view, you’ll be enthralled with both on roller coasters and flume rides at Story Land and Santa’s Village, both open weekends through Columbus Day. Hop on board the ferris wheel at the Fryeburg Fair anytime from Oct 2 – 9 and take in the foliage-filled view over the fairgrounds and well beyond to the mountains. And this year, you’ll see a corn-filled view from Sherman Farm’s corn maize too.
From the wall of a ledge: Mt Washington Valley is renowned among rock and ice climbers for its fabulous terrain. From popular climbs like Cathedral and Whitehorse Ledges to Frankenstein Cliff, here’s yet another way to “get high” in order to take in the view. For newcomers, learn to climb at EMS Climbing School or International Mountain Climbing School. For experienced climbers, these outfitters also offer up gear and ideas, along with Ragged Mountain Equipment. The number and expertise offered by Mt Washington Valley’s climbing outfitters along with the incredible terrain and of course the fall views, is what makes Mt Washington Valley a Mecca in the East for climbers.
From the Seat of a Car: When it comes to scenic drives, don’t wait until Sunday during fall foliage season. Mt. Washington Valley is renowned for its fall foliage scenic drives, including the Kancamagus Highway, the country’s only scenic byway loop, named over and over again to Top 10 places to see fall foliage. Travel+Leisure Magazine just named the Kanc among the country’s most iconic drives. Take your Sunday drive through the mountains any day of the week and discover picnic sites, swimming holes, wildlife and family attractions all amidst a backdrop of spectacular fall foliage along the way. For a complete list of scenic drives throughout Mt. Washington Valley, click here.
From the seat of a golf cart: Many of Mt Washington Valley’s golf courses remain open throughout October, offering golfers picturesque holes and challenging courses with backdrops of yellows, reds and oranges. This is the time to enjoy golf at Mt Washington Valley’s eleven courses, all within a 45 minute drive from North Conway, NH. Go to www.Golfmwv.com and check out profiles of each course, including lists of the most picturesque holes on each golf course, and you can believe with fall foliage in the background, these are gorgeous spots for putting and peeping.
From a cozy B&B or inn, motel, hotel or family resort: Mt. Washington Valley is well known for its wide variety of lodging. More than fifty country inns and B&B’s offer cozy and romantic retreats, while the region’s motels, hostels and campgrounds provide additional options for those seeking getaways on a budget. Family-friendly and even pet-friendly resorts and hotels, condos, vacation rentals and timeshare properties round out the offerings, so there’s something for everyone. Many of these lodging properties have created packages and itineraries for fall foliage getaways. Be sure to visit Mt. Washington Valley’s package page for a host of themed packages from last-minute specials to Flora and Fauna specials.
From the seat of an ATV: ATV and snowmobile trails wind their way throughout Mt Washington Valley, especially near Gorham. A family-friendly activity and a great way to hail to the leaf during fall months, visit Northeast Snowmobile & ATV Rentals in Gorham to rent your ATV or get in on a guided tour of the best fall foliage views.
From the bow of a boat: Rent a kayak or canoe and peep a leaf from your place on the rivers, lakes and ponds that surround Mt Washington Valley. If you’d rather spend your time taking photos or taking in the view and leave the work to someone else, how about a cruise on Conway Lake aboard Black Ghost Boat Cruises or on Long Lake in Naples aboard Songo River Queen II? Mt Washington Valley offers a number of boat rental outfitters and guided boat cruises. Click here for a complete list of boat rentals and boat tours.
From the Seat of a Bike: Peep and pedal your way through Mt Washington Valley this fall as Mt. Washington Valley offers ideal biking terrain for those looking for gentle back roads taking them through covered bridges and past farms and meadows to extreme off-road slick track. In fact, New Hampshire was named among the most cycle-friendly states in the country. There are even inn to inn biking tours offered throughout the fall. For a complete list of suggested bike routes throughout the Valley, click here.
From the table in the dining room: Mt. Washington Valley offers more dining with a view than any other New England destination. Whether it’s overlooking North Conway with Cranmore Mountain front and center from Ledges Restaurant at the White Mountain Hotel, to a fabulous view of the Moat Mountains and Presidentials from Darby Field Inn, you’ll find spectacular dining with a view throughout Mt. Washington Valley. Try the Omni Mount Washington Hotel at the base of the grand dame, Mount Washington, or on the deck at the Muddy Moose.Restaurant and Pub or overlooking the 18th hole and Cathedral Ledge beyond at the North Conway Country Club. You’ll find plenty of choices for fine dining with spectacular views when you click here.
Whether you put your foot to the pedal or the metal, don’t forget to bring a camera, because the foliage in Mt Washington Valley is arguably the most exquisite in New England. Yankee Magazine rated North Conway and Jackson among the top 12 foliage towns in New England and Flipkey.com named it among the best fall destinations in the country. Come see for yourself. For all your fall foliage planning information, visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org or call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364) for help in planning your getaway. And go to www.VisitNH.gov for all the resources you need in exploring New Hampshire this fall too.
Photo: Dan Houde/Wiseguy Creative of Great Glen Trails bikers.