Travel through the Northeast this season to see all the...

Travel through the Northeast this season to see all the changing fall foliage. Credit: Getty Images/Boogich

For the past two years, Long Island leaf peepers were advised to keep their fall forays small scale but it's time to hit the road and capture fall foliage in the Northeast at its peak. Here are four all-you-can-see seasonal buffets, all within 250 miles of Long Island, and each offering sensorily deprived fall fanatics a variety of opportunities to once again gawk, savor, and immerse themselves in some of Mother Nature’s most magnificent fall finery.    

What to expect

While this summer's drought has been pronounced in the tri-state area, sufficient and timely enough rain has fallen throughout the growing season in each of the four recommended destinations. As a result, experts are actually predicting an essentially normal fall foliage season, though the colors themselves may be slightly less vibrant and the timing of peak colors, which varies by elevation, to be a week to10 days later than historical norms because of the heat.

The Poconos 

Despite their modest height, the Poconos of northeast Pennsylvania offer plenty of spectacular fall scenery. But it is precisely that reduced elevation that allows the Poconos to offer the widest abundance of outdoor activities including golfing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, adventure parking, and even whitewater rafting, most of which can be pursued into November.

Expected peak colors: mid-late Oct.

THINGS TO DO 

Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway began running excursions from Jim Thorpe,...

Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway began running excursions from Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Credit: AP/Warren Ruda

It’s hard to beat the view from the top of 2,133-foot Camelback Mountain in Big Pocono State Park (dcnr.state.pa.gov, free) in Tannersville. And it’s easily accessible by car, though ardent adventure parkers can also get there via a number of downwardly mobile rides at Camelback Mountain Adventures (camelbackmountainadventures.com, through October.)

See the forest and the trees on foliage excursion trains on either the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad out of Jim Thorpe ($19-29 adults, $9-19 ages 3-12, lgsry.com, through Nov. 6) or the Pocono Foliage Express on the Stourbridge Line out of Honesdale ($20 adults, $15 ages 3-12, thestourbridgeline.net, through Nov. 5). The wilder and wetter way through the colorful Lehigh Valley Gorge is by whitewater raft. Pocono Whitewater (poconowhitewater.com) offers a daily 3-4-hour “Family Style” trip ($56-66 adults, $45-55 ages 4-12) through October. Whitewater Challengers (whitewaterchallengers.com) offer similar “Easy Whitewater” trips ($52-62 adults, $45-62 ages 4-12) through Oct. 9.

PICTURESQUE TOWNS TO EXPLORE

Victorian Jim Thorpe; erstwhile industrial Honesdale; and commercial Stroudsburg.

INFO poconomountains.com

The Catskills

With 98 peaks over 3,000 feet, the Catskills are true mountains. Equally important for fall foliage fanatics, they’re almost as heavily forested now as they were back in Rip Van Winkle’s day. Just about everywhere you go in the four-county area — and especially the 287,500-acre Catskill Forest Preserve, is destined to yield a constantly changing collage of yellows, oranges, and reds springing. What you won’t find in the Catskills, however, are lots of people, either resident or itinerant. You’re pretty much on your own in the Catskills, which is why so many purists in particular prefer it.

Expected peak colors: early-mid October

THINGS TO DO

The autumn foliage overlooking North-South Lake in the Catskill Mountains.

The autumn foliage overlooking North-South Lake in the Catskill Mountains. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/lightphoto

It’s an easy ¼-mile from the parking lot in North-South Lake State Park in Haines Falls (dec.ny.gov, entrance fee $10 per car) to the site of the original Catskill Mountain House with its four-state view out over the Hudson River Valley.

Float gently above the trees at Hunter Mountain’s Skyride ($17 adults, $13 ages 7-12, huntermtn.com, weekends through Oct. 16), or — for the much more daring — careen right through them on a New York Zipline adventure tour ($99-149, ziplinenewyork.com, through October) also at Hunter Mountain.

PICTURESQUE TOWNS TO EXPLORE

Woodstock, last best holdout of the ‘60s counterculture generation; Tannersville, “the painted village in the sky”; and rustic, mountain-girded Phoenicia.

INFO visitthecatskills.com

The Berkshires

The Berkshires of western Massachusetts offers authentic New England charm in the form of picturesque colonial-era towns, complete with graceful Congregational churches and expansive village greens; and bucolic, and centuries-old farms and orchards. There’s even more to recommend in the Berkshires: dozens of art and history museums, literary sites and grand historic homes, all of which offer tangible human foreground to those stunning backdrops.

Expected peak colors: mid-October

THINGS TO DO 

Go hiking at Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts.

Go hiking at Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. Credit: Universal Images Group via Getty Images/MyLoupe

Massachusetts’ highest peak, 4,391-foot Mount Greylock, affords splendiferous 60-90-mile views in all directions. The 8-mile access road can be picked up off Route 7 in Lanesborough or off Route 2 in North Adams (free).

Named by then Pittsfield resident Herman Melville for its spectacular fall colors, October Mountain in Lee is the state’s largest state forest and offers miles of hiking, including trails through Schermerhorn Gorge and up Mount Walling (free). For a quicker and easier trip up, ride to the top of Jiminy Peak on the Berkshire Express scenic chair lift in Hancock ($15 over 54 inches tall, $10, 38-53 inches, jiminypeak.com, weekends through Columbus Day).

PICTURESQUE TOWNS TO EXPLORE

Williamstown, a quintessential small New England college town; cultural Stockbridge; and the revitalized market town of Great Barrington.

INFO Berkshires.org

Southwestern Vermont

Vermont’s worldwide reputation as the epitome of fall foliage is well deserved. Unfortunately, that reputation means that come October, the state’s most well-known destinations are as much awash in tourists as color. For an equally quintessential Vermont experience that’s a lot less madding (and serendipitously closer to Long Island), head for Bennington County, and especially the 35-mile-long stretch of Routes 7 and 7A between the Massachusetts border and Manchester. The panoply of colors enveloping the Taconic Range to the west and the Green Mountain National Forest to the east will absolutely astound.   

Expected peak colors: mid-October

THINGS TO DO 

Poet Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury, Vermont.

Poet Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury, Vermont. Credit: LightRocket via Getty Images/John Greim

By far the best view is the 360-degree one from atop 3,840-foot Mount Equinox accessible either by foot or the Mount Equinox Skyline Drive ($30 car and driver, $5 additional passenger over age 9, quinoxmountain.com, through Oct. 31).

Nature and nurture combine forces at Hildene, Robert Todd Lincoln’s turn-of-the-century summer estate ($23 adults, $6 ages 6-16, hildene.org) and the Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury ($10 adults, $5 under 18, bennington.edu, through Oct.)

PICTURESQUE TOWNS TO EXPLORE

Revolutionary Bennington; charming Manchester; and Norman Rockwell’s Arlington.

INFO vermonttourismnetwork.com

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