I’d always read about the fall foliage in the Northeast, and seen images of rugged landscapes covered with the most brilliant colors. The transition from summer to winter in this area is known for its vibrant colors and picturesque beauty. It only made sense to pay homage to one of the most beautiful autumn destinations in the Northern Hemisphere.
We started our journey in Boston and drove to Lincoln, New Hampshire, where we turned on to Interstate 93, a beautiful highway showing the mesmerizing process of the leaves of beeches, hornbeams, aspens, and sycamores turning to glowing shades of orange, yellow, and red. The colors evoked a sense of peace and fulfillment, and reminded us that just like trees, we need to shed to regrow, and that the process in itself is beautiful.
Hiking through Franconia Notch State Park, witnessing the colorful forests sprawling over the slopes of the Kinsman and Franconia ranges in the White Mountains was an experience I will never forget. All my worries seemed to fade with the time I spent walking through the color show that Mother Earth was putting on.
Jumping for joy
The very aesthetically-pleasing Kancamagus Scenic Byway was one of the most memorable drives I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. The entire 34.5-mile drive extending from Lincoln to Conway, New Hampshire, cuts through the White Mountain National Forest with awe-inspiring views of the White Mountains, the Swift River, Sabbaday Falls, Lower Falls, and Rocky Gorge. Every time I got out of the car to take in the expansive views filled with color, the deep forest smells of the pines made me want to run through the trees and jump with joy—which I did quite a bit on this journey.
Instead of driving, we took the 152-year-old Cog Railway to Mount Washington’s rocky summit. The extremely joyous ride felt like taking a train through Disneyland for fall enthusiasts. After touring the towns of Randolph and Jefferson, we took another scenic byway, the Crawford Notch Road, where we hiked along several waterfalls before reaching Cannon Mountain Ski Area. We took full benefit of the various day use areas and camping sites along the lake, before visiting Littleton, New Hampshire, a quaint and beautiful town.
Inspired by all the leaf peeping, we drove up to Maine the next morning, taking the Rangeley Lake Scenic Byway in Maine. The bright colors surrounding the fourth-largest lake in Maine was a meditative experience, and the sunset amplified the magic, leaving us mere mortals in awe.
For the next couple of days, we walked around the Groton and Mount Mansfield state forests, soaking in the exuberant views of flowering dogwood and bitternut hickory trees. Before we headed back to Chicago, we soaked in some more fall views on Equinox Mountain, at the Bennington Battle Monument, and the Green Mountain National Forest.
Our return to Boston was a pretty slow drive, as we discussed memories we had made on this road trip. The oncoming hibernation made me realize that humans are just like trees, and that I need to be more patient toward life, for nothing in nature blooms all year long. The whole trip was a beautiful reminder to take life lightly, and I will forever be grateful to the leaves for teaching me how beautiful it could be to let go.