Upstate New York in the Fall: A Quick Guide to Autumn Adventures

As the air turns crisp and the leaves transform into a vibrant tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows, Upstate New York in the fall is an absolute dream.

Upstate New York in the Fall

From picturesque small towns to sprawling state parks, there’s something for everyone in this region during autumn.

Whether you’re a nature lover seeking breathtaking views or a foodie looking to indulge in seasonal treats, Upstate New York has it all.

Fall Foliage in Upstate New York

Fall foliage is one of the top reasons to visit Upstate New York in the fall.

The bright colors of the leaves in shades of red, orange, and yellow create awe-inspiring landscapes perfect to embrace the season.

Here’s what you need to know about foliage in Upstate New York:

Peak Foliage Dates

Keep in mind that the peak foliage dates can vary depending on the region you’re visiting, as well as the weather leading up to the season.

Upstate New York in the Fall

Generally, the best time to catch vibrant colors is between late September and mid-October.

Here’s a breakdown of the peak times for fall foliage in Upstate New York:

  • Adirondacks: Late September to early October
  • Catskills: Early to mid-October
  • Hudson Valley: Mid-October
  • Finger Lakes: Mid- to late October

Don’t forget that these dates are approximate, so if possible, it’s best to plan your trip with a little flexibility.

Scenic Drives in Upstate New York for Fall Foliage

Moreover, do yourself a favor and plan a scenic drive on winding country roads.

This will give you the chance to visit several places and give yourself time to feast your eyes on the picturesque landscapes.

While you’re at it, you’ll notice the abundance of charming small towns, each with its own unique character.

Here are some must-visit towns during your journey:

Best Upstate New York Fall Foliage Destinations

Lake Placid

If you’re looking for a charming town to experience Upstate New York in the fall, look no further than Lake Placid.

Upstate New York in the Fall

This picturesque village, located in the Adirondack Mountains, is surrounded by stunning scenery that comes alive with vibrant autumn colors.

One of the best ways to take in the fall foliage in Lake Placid is by hiking. There are numerous trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

Some popular options include the Cobble Hill Trail and the Mount Jo Trail. If you’re up for a challenge, consider hiking to the top of one of the high peaks in the area, such as Mount Marcy or Algonquin Peak.

In addition to hiking, Lake Placid offers plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy during the fall season.

You can go kayaking or canoeing on Mirror Lake, take a scenic drive along the Olympic Byway, or even go on a hot air balloon ride to get a bird’s eye view of the fall foliage.

When you’re ready to take a break from outdoor adventure, be sure to explore the charming village of Lake Placid itself.

You’ll find plenty of quaint shops, restaurants, and cafes to enjoy. Be sure to check out the Lake Placid Olympic Museum to learn about the town’s rich Olympic history.

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Whiteface Mountain

If you’re looking for a spectacular view of the fall foliage, Whiteface Mountain is a must-visit destination.

Located in the Adirondack Mountains, Whiteface Mountain is the fifth highest peak in New York State.

You can take the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway to the summit and enjoy breathtaking views along the way.

The highway is open from late May to early October, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly.

Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

On a clear day, you can even see all the way to Vermont and Canada!

In addition to the stunning views, Whiteface Mountain offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and rock climbing.

You can also take a gondola ride to the summit for a more leisurely way to enjoy the scenery.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try the Cloudsplitter Gondola, which takes you even higher up the mountain for an even more breathtaking view.


Skaneateles is definitely worth a visit if a cozy and picturesque town is what you’re after during your Upstate New York fall adventures.

Located on the northern shore of Skaneateles Lake, this small town offers stunning views of the changing leaves and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.

One of the best ways to take in the fall scenery is by hiking the Skaneateles Conservation Area.

This 200-acre nature preserve features over five miles of trails that wind through forests and meadows. You’ll be surrounded by vibrant colors and might even spot some wildlife along the way.

If you prefer to take a more leisurely approach, a scenic boat tour of Skaneateles Lake is a must.

The clear blue waters of the lake are even more beautiful with the backdrop of the surrounding hills and trees. You can also rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the lake on your own.

Skaneateles is also known for its charming downtown area, filled with boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

Take a stroll down the main street, grab a coffee or hot cider, and browse the unique offerings of the local businesses.


Located in Ulster County, Woodstock is famous for its music festivals, art galleries, and picturesque landscapes.

During the fall season, the town is surrounded by vibrant colors of red, orange, and yellow leaves.

You can take a leisurely stroll through the town and enjoy the fall foliage or take a hike on one of the many trails in the area.

One of the most popular attractions in Woodstock is the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, which is home to over 300 rescued farm animals.

You can take a tour of the sanctuary and even interact with the animals.

If you’re a fan of art, Woodstock won’t disappoint you. The town is filled with art galleries and studios, showcasing the work of local artists.

You can attend the Woodstock Film Festival, which takes place in October, or visit the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum, which features exhibitions of contemporary and historic art.

In addition to the fall foliage and art scene, Woodstock also has a thriving food scene. You can enjoy farm-to-table cuisine at Cucina or grab a coffee and pastry at Bread Alone Bakery.

Hunter Mountain

If you’re looking for a great spot to catch the fall foliage in upstate New York, you can’t go wrong with Hunter Mountain.

This popular ski resort transforms into a beautiful autumn wonderland when the leaves start to change.

One of the best ways to take in the views is by taking a ride on the Hunter Mountain Skyride.

This scenic chairlift takes you to the top of the mountain, where you can see for miles around. The ride is especially beautiful in the fall, when the leaves are at their peak.

If you’re up for a bit of adventure, you can also try out the Zipline Canopy Tour at Hunter Mountain.

This thrilling experience takes you soaring through the treetops, giving you a unique perspective on the fall foliage.

Of course, there’s also plenty of hiking to be done at Hunter Mountain. With over 50 miles of trails, you’re sure to find a route that suits your skill level. Some of the most popular trails include the Devil’s Path and the Escarpment Trail.

When you’re ready to take a break, head to the Oktoberfest celebration at Hunter Mountain. This annual event is a great way to experience the local culture and cuisine, with plenty of beer, bratwurst, and live music.

Cold Spring

Located just over an hour away from NYC, Cold Spring is a picturesque village that offers stunning views of the Hudson River and the surrounding mountains.

One of the best ways to experience the fall foliage in Cold Spring is by taking a hike on the Breakneck Ridge Trail.

This challenging trail offers breathtaking views of the Hudson River and the surrounding mountains, and is especially beautiful during the fall months when the leaves change color.

After your hike, head into town to explore the quaint shops and restaurants. Cold Spring is home to a number of antique shops, art galleries, and boutiques, as well as a variety of restaurants and cafes.

Be sure to stop by Moo Moo’s Creamery for some delicious homemade ice cream!

If you’re interested in history, be sure to visit the West Point Foundry Preserve.

This historic site was once a major ironworks and played a crucial role in the Civil War.

Today, visitors can explore the ruins of the foundry and learn about its fascinating history.

Seneca Falls

Situated in the Finger Lakes region, this town is surrounded by stunning natural scenery and offers plenty of outdoor activities to make the most out of Upstate New York in the fall.

One of the best ways to take in the fall foliage is by hiking the trails in the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

You’ll be able to see a variety of trees, including maples, oaks, and hickories, as well as wildlife such as deer, foxes, and migratory birds.

Another must-visit attraction in Seneca Falls is the Women’s Rights National Historical Park.

This park is dedicated to the women’s suffrage movement and features exhibits and guided tours that highlight the history of women’s rights in America.

For a more relaxing activity, take a scenic drive around the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.

This trail features over a dozen wineries where you can sample local wines and enjoy the stunning fall colors of the surrounding vineyards.

Best Time to Visit Upstate New York for Fall Foliage

The best time to visit Upstate New York for fall foliage is typically from mid-September to mid-October. During this time, the weather is usually mild and the leaves are at their peak color.

It’s important to keep in mind that the timing of peak foliage can vary depending on the specific location and weather conditions.

In general, areas at higher elevations tend to peak earlier than those at lower elevations.

If you want to avoid large crowds, consider visiting during the weekdays rather than weekends.

Additionally, early mornings and late afternoons are great times to visit as the lighting can enhance the beauty of the fall colors.

It’s also important to keep an eye on the weather forecast as rain and wind can cause leaves to fall prematurely, potentially impacting the timing of peak foliage.

Upstate New York in the Fall

Best Locations for Leaf Peeping in Upstate New York

Now that you have an idea of when to go, let’s talk about the best locations for leaf peeping because that’s probably one of the major reasons you’re planning to visit Upstate New York in the fall!

There are many amazing spots, but here are a few of my top recommendations:

Adirondack Park

With over 6 million acres of wilderness, there’s no shortage of scenic routes to explore the vibrant colors. Try the Adirondack Mountains Scenic Byway for a stunning drive.

Upstate New York in the Fall

Letchworth State Park

Known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” this park offers breathtaking views of the Genesee River Gorge, waterfalls, and, of course, dazzling fall foliage.

Upstate New York in the Fall

Catskill Mountains

Hop on the Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway to wander through quaint towns and witness the leaves changing colors. The Kaaterskill Falls hike is definitely worth your time.

Upstate New York in the Fall

Hudson Valley

The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area has a wealth of parks and historic sites to explore while enjoying the fall colors. Don’t miss the Walkway Over the Hudson for expansive views!

Upstate New York in the Fall

Bear Mountain

If you’re looking for a scenic drive, Bear Mountain is a great option. The winding roads offer stunning views of the Hudson River and the surrounding foliage.

Upstate New York in the Fall

Once you arrive at Bear Mountain State Park, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy like hiking, driving, and wildlife spotting.

For a unique perspective, you can take a ride on the Bear Mountain Inn’s aerial tramway. The tramway offers breathtaking views of the Hudson River and the surrounding mountains.

Festivities Going on in Upstate New York in the Fall

Harvest Season

During Upstate New York in the fall, you’ll find an array of harvest festivals celebrating the season.

Upstate New York in the Fall

You can wander through corn mazes or pick your own pumpkins at a local pumpkin patch.

Cider, Pies, and Fall Flavors

Upstate New York in the fall is known for its delicious apple cider and freshly baked pies.

You can find these scrumptious treats at local farmers markets, apple orchards, and farm stands.

Be sure to treat yourself to:

  • Apple cider donuts: A fall staple, try these warm sugary treats at a nearby farm store.
  • Pumpkin pie: Made from locally grown pumpkins, this dessert is a must-have.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to grab some freshly baked donuts from a nearby farmer’s market. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you!

Historical Sites to Visit in Upstate New York During Fall

When visiting Upstate New York in the fall season, you won’t want to miss out on some historical sites that offer both stunning views and intriguing tales.

Here are a few must-visit sites in Upstate New York in the fall that will take you back in time:

Old Fort Niagara

Situated on the picturesque shores of Lake Ontario, this 18th-century fortress tells the story of a strategic stronghold during wars between France, Britain, and the United States.

Take a guided tour or just stroll around — either way, prepare to be impressed and feel the history in the air.

Kykuit Rockefellers Estate

Nestled in Sleepy Hollow, this grand six-level mansion was home to four generations of Rockefellers.

Marvel at the magnificent architecture, grand gardens, and the underground art galleries filled with breathtaking pieces.

Experience the powerful legacy of this famous family, surrounded by spectacular fall foliage.

Seneca Falls & Women’s Rights National Historical Park

Pay a visit to this symbol of women’s rights, where you can wander through the Wesleyan Chapel, where the first Women’s Rights Convention took place in 1848.

Learn about the life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and explore the Falls area — combining history with the beauty of autumnal nature.

Saratoga Springs

Last but not least, take a relaxing stroll on the lovely streets of Saratoga Springs.

Known for its mineral springs, horse racing, and Victorian charm, this picturesque town is perfect for experiencing the colors of fall while you unwind.

Make sure to visit the Saratoga Battlefield, the site of a crucial Revolutionary War battle that marked a turning point for American independence.

Outdoor Activities to Enjoy in Upstate New York in the Fall

Hiking and Biking

Upstate New York is a haven for those who love the outdoors, especially in the fall.

When the leaves start changing colors, hiking and biking trails offer stunning views and an opportunity to connect with nature.

Here are a few trails to explore:

  • Catskill Scenic Trail: Meandering through farmlands and forests, this 26-mile trail is perfect for beginners and experienced hikers alike.
  • Mohonk Preserve: With over 70 miles of trails, this preserve offers various terrains for hiking, biking, and more.
  • Finger Lakes Trail: Stretching across 950 miles, this trail provides numerous sections of varying difficulty, making it ideal for all skill levels.

Canoeing and Kayaking

The fall season also presents a wonderful time for water activities like canoeing and kayaking.

Upstate New York has no shortage of rivers and lakes to explore during this time.

Check out these amazing spots:

Adirondack ParkWith over 3,000 lakes and ponds, and 1,200 miles of rivers, there’s plenty of space for a leisurely paddle or a thrilling adventure.
Hudson RiverPaddle down the historic Hudson River, taking in the stunning foliage along the banks.
Allegheny ReservoirSurrounded by lush forests and the quiet beauty of the fall season, it’s an ideal location for a peaceful canoe or kayak trip.

Wildlife and Bird Watching

If you’re a wildlife lover, Upstate New York in the fall is an absolute treat!

During your trip, you’ll be treated to a wide variety of wildlife and bird watching opportunities, not to mention the changing leaves create a stunning backdrop for observing animals in their natural habitats.

In the forests, you may spot white-tailed deer, red foxes, and black bears, all of which become more active during this season.

You may come across wild turkeys, raccoons, and even the elusive bobcat if you get lucky.

When it comes to bird watching, upstate New York in the fall is a paradise.

The region plays host to several species of migratory birds, making their way south for the winter. Keep an eye out for:

  • Raptors: eagles, hawks, and falcons soaring overhead
  • Songbirds: warblers, thrushes, and sparrows flitting among the branches
  • Waterfowl: ducks, geese, and swans gathering in ponds and lakes

To increase your chances of encountering these avian marvels, consider visiting wildlife refuges or nature preserves, where bird populations tend to be higher.

Remember to always respect the wildlife by keeping a safe distance and not disturbing their habitats.

This ensures a pleasant experience for you, as well as protection for the animals and birds you’re admiring.

Travel Tips for Visiting Upstate New York in the Fall

When planning your trip to see the fall foliage in upstate New York, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Here are some travel tips to help you make the most of your trip to Upstate New York in the fall:


Timing is everything when it comes to seeing the fall foliage.

The peak season for fall foliage in upstate New York usually occurs from late September to mid-October, but this can vary depending on the weather and other factors.

Be sure to check the foliage reports before you go to get an idea of when the leaves will be at their most vibrant.


Driving is the most common way to see the fall foliage in upstate New York, but it’s not the only option.

You can also take a train or bus tour, or even rent a bike to explore the area.

Keep in mind that roads can be crowded during peak season, so plan accordingly and allow extra time for travel.


Upstate New York has plenty of options for accommodations, from cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious resorts.

However, if you’re visiting Upstate New York in the fall, it’s important to book your accommodations well in advance, especially if you’re traveling during peak season.

You may also want to consider staying in a smaller town or village outside of the main tourist areas to avoid crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience.


Fall weather in upstate New York can be unpredictable, so it’s important to pack accordingly.

Make sure to bring layers, as temperatures can vary greatly throughout the day.

You should also bring rain gear, as fall is a rainy season in upstate New York.

Outdoor Activities

In addition to seeing foliage, Upstate New York in the fall offers plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.

Hiking, biking, and kayaking are all popular options, but be sure to check the weather and trail conditions before heading out.

You should also bring appropriate gear and supplies, such as sturdy shoes, water, and snacks.

Upstate New York in the Fall: Conclusion

As our journey through Upstate New York in the fall comes to a close, we hope we’ve inspired you to plan your own autumn adventure in this beautiful region.

From hiking through colorful forests to sipping on hot cider at a local orchard, there are endless ways to experience the magic of fall in Upstate New York.