During the fall, the Empire State is awash with natural beauty. Bucolic scenes dot much of the countryside from Montauk to Niagara Falls.
Before winter washes white over the land, trees turn striking oranges, reds and yellows — and seeing this transformation occur is as easy as hiking through woods or driving along suburban and rural roads. But there are also ways to see fall foliage by water, rail and air.
Upstate New York is rife with paddling opportunities . Kayakers using A Day Away Kayak Rentals (1000 Rte. 213, Kingston; 845-750-6538, adayawaykayakrentals.com) in Ulster County receive instruction before heading out to paddle the Rondout Creek to see the changing foliage. Along the way, they can view a waterfall, pass by bridges and see the historic Kingston waterfront. Continue to row out to the Hudson River to check out a lighthouse after passing through an active boatbuilding dock. Be sure to look for bald eagle nests. (Single kayak rentals start at $20, tandem kayaks at $40, stand-up paddleboard and canoes are also available.)
Adirondack Railroad’s fall foliage trains (330 Main St., Utica; 315-724-0700, adirondackrr.com) will run to and from Tupper Lake in Franklin County through October. On Sundays, the Mountaineer train runs from Thendara/Old Forge to Tupper Lake and back (8.5 hours; $49, $36 ages 2-12); Tupper Lake Explorer runs from Tupper Lake Station to the city of Sabattis (located in Hamilton County) and back (two hours; $19, $13 ages 2-12); and the High Peaks Limited runs from Utica to Thendara/Old Forge to Tupper Lake and back.
Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures (5589 S. Hill Rd., Canandaigua; 585-374-1180, bristolmountainadventures.com) in Ontario County offers a guided zip line canopy tour featuring seven zip lines that zoom more than 5,000 feet across the upper layer of the Bristol Valley, giving guests an elevated look at the foliage ($109; participants must weigh between 80 and 250 pounds).
Holiday Valley in Cattaraugus County (6557 Holiday Valley Rd., Ellicottville; 716-699-2345, holidayvalley.com) has fall chairlift rides. Its Spruce Lake quad chair runs Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 29, and the jaunt passes the resort’s tree-lined slopes including many sugar maples, notable for their fall colors, before reaching the 13-acre lake where all can depart to walk around the water before either hiking down or getting back on the lift to return to the base ($12 per person, ages 6 and under ride free).
Harris Hill Soaring Corp. (51 Soaring Hill Dr., Elmira; 607-734-0641, harrishillsoaring.org) takes guests above Chemung County in a glider. The sailplane is first towed to a height of 2,000 feet over a park by a powered plane, then released to provide a 15- to 20-minute ride. Flyers sit in a cockpit that offers a panoramic view that includes foliage across valleys and hills below. Flights take place weekends through October on a first-come, first-serve basis (weather permitting); gliders carry only one passenger at a time ($140).