New York‘s fall colors are a sight to behold. From deep crimson to fiery orange and even lovely golden hues, this swirl of colors takes over the state in September and October.
In fall, vibrant colors make already spectacular hikes that much more visually impressive — and even casual car rides and other everyday excursions can feel a lot more thrilling.
With such an explosion of color, the question is not whether to check them out, but where and when. Not sure where to go? Below, we’ve highlighted several of the best fall color spots in New York:
Popular due to its proximity to NYC, this exciting destination calls for a lot of scrambling. Multiple trails are available, but all are challenging in the best of ways.
The trailhead can easily be found at the Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, which boasts a vast network of trails that, although a bit less rigorous, are just as beautiful.
For the ultimate autumn journey, try the Breakneck to Cold Spring trail, which takes about four hours and provides mesmerizing views of the Hudson.
Visiting Boldt Castle in the fall is a truly enchanting experience. Located on Heart Island in the Thousand Islands region of New York, this magnificent castle is surrounded by a picturesque landscape that transforms into a vibrant tapestry of autumn colors during the fall months.
The crisp, cool air enhances the charm of the castle’s architecture and the surrounding gardens. Strolling through the castle’s halls and exploring its history amidst the backdrop of golden foliage is a captivating journey back in time. With fewer visitors compared to the summer months, fall offers a more serene and intimate experience at Boldt Castle, making it an ideal time to soak in the castle’s beauty and tranquility
Catskill Mountain Railroad
Not up for hiking? The Catskill Mountain Railroad is a great alternative and even offers a Fall Foliage Adventure Train. Departing from Westbrook Station, this journey extends along the Ulster & Delaware Railroad corridor for a little over an hour.
There is also a Pumpkin Express Train, which offers all the same great autumn views — but with the opportunity to select a pumpkin to bring home.
Hudson Falls to Putnam Station Drive
There are countless scenic drives worth taking in New York State, but this one will definitely top the list for anyone who appreciates bucolic farmland in the fall.
Beginning in Hudson Falls, this journey hugs the Vermon border as it meanders through the Adirondack foothills. Expect to remain on Route 4 until Whitehall, when Route 22 leads to the drive’s end in Putnam Station.
Seneca Lake Wine Trail
What could be better than taking in the autumn views while also exploring the region’s fine wines? These activities can easily be combined while navigating the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, which encompasses over two dozen wineries.
A little research may be needed to determine which locations are most scenic, but favorites such as Atwater Vineyards and the Idol Ridge Winery never fail to delight with their lovely fall vistas.
Indian Ladder Trail
A favorite trek within the stunning Thacher State Park, the Indian Ladder Trail is generally an easy journey, although there are quite a few stairs involved near the end. These are more than worth the effort, however, as they lead to impressive views.
Throughout the year, this trail is always a wonder, as an abundance of fossils are embedded in the limestone. Extending just half a mile, this is a great option for catching fall colors when time is limited — although Thacher State Park boasts plenty of other trails that show the fall colors at their best.
Letchworth State Park
This amazing destination has more than earned its nickname as the Grand Canyon of the East. Where it exceeds the real Grand Canyon, however, is with its vibrant colors.
The Gorge Trail is a must, but hiking is by no means the only option for checking out the fall colors. Biking and horseback riding are always fun — or you can simply enjoy lunch at the picnic areas.
Wallkill Valley Rail Trial
While road biking often gives way to hiking trips as the weather grows crisp, exploring on two wheels can still be pleasant on a warmer day. The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is a great candidate when the weather cooperates.
Perfect for a leisurely ride, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail passes the amber and gold hues of Shawangunk Ridge. Extending over twenty miles and passing through towns like Gardiner and Rosendale, this is a year-round opportunity that deserves greater recognition during the fall season.
Visiting Taughannock Falls in the fall season is a nature lover’s dream come true. Located in Taughannock Falls State Park, New York, this stunning natural wonder is even more breathtaking when surrounded by the vibrant hues of autumn. As you hike through the park’s trails, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the gorge, which is adorned with the striking colors of changing leaves. The waterfall itself, plunging 215 feet, stands as a majestic centerpiece amidst this fall foliage.
Mt. Van Hoevenberg
Try something different and take in the scenery from the thrilling vantage point of a mountain coaster. Mt. Van Hoevenberg is a true recreational gem and, while there are plenty of ways to view fall colors at this remarkable destination, the Cliffside Coaster is one of the most memorable opportunities.
This is the longest coaster in North America, so there is plenty of time to take in the views. Other activities worth trying include cross-country biking and trail running.
Discover Fall in New York
Fall is one of the most glorious times to explore New York State. From hiking to biking and even train rides, there are countless ways to see the beautiful colors, so don’t miss this chance to ooh and ahh at the breathtaking scenery.