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Ever wonder why the words “autumn in New England” have the same magical connotation as “April in Paris?” Take a drive along any of these five foliage-filled New England byways and you’ll see why.
Kancamagus HighwayRoute 112, New HampshireNo roadway in New England is as synonymous with fall as Route 112, the rambling two-lane road informally known as “The Kanc,” that cuts like a ribbon through White Mountain National Forest.
It’s heavily touristed, but for good reason — this road is natural eye candy. Kancamagus Falls, highest point on the road, soars to 2,980 feet. From here, travelers can see the entire Presidential Range. The Swift River parallels much of the eastern half of the Kanc and there are many opportunities to park and explore.www.kancamagushighway.com
Smugglers’ NotchRoute 108, VermontSmugglers’ Notch in northern Vermont is a mountain pass used to smuggle contraband to Canada from the early 1800s through Prohibition. Route 108 winds through the notch from the resort village of Stowe to Jeffersonville, taking travelers past some of the best works of nature, including the craggy peak of massive Mount Mansfield. Packed a picnic? Break out your red-checkered tablecloth at Smugglers’ Notch State Park and enjoy the scenery.www.smugnotch.com/
Molly Stark TrailRoute 9, VermontStraddling southern Vermont, the sinuous, mostly two-lane road begins in the east in West Brattleboro, home to the stoplight-red Creamery Covered Bridge. The view from Hogback Mountain, ten minutes to the west, is one of central New England’s most spectacular.
Molly Stark State Park in Marlboro welcomes leisurely strollers, while the specialty stores of Wilmington, which is the base for Mount Snow Ski Area, beg visitors to lighten the weight of their wallet.
Bennington, at the western terminus, boasts the towering Bennington Monument, the Bennington Museum with its renowned Grandma Moses gallery, and grave of America’s poet, Robert Frost.www.mollystarkbyway.org
Mohawk TrailRoute 2, MassachusettsDon’t be put off by critics who say you can’t see the forest for the cars.
Western Massachusetts’s Mohawk Trail (Route 2) is often crowded, but is much more than just a tourist trap. Landmarks interspersed among the multi-colored hillsides include Shelburne Falls’s Bridge of Flowers, a 1908 trolley bridge turned floral garden.
Further west is “Hail to the Sunrise,” an eight-foot-high bronze statue of a Native American, arms outstretched, welcoming the morning sun. From the village of Florida, motorists wind their way to Whitcomb Summit, located some 2,200 feet above sea level.www.mohawktrail.com
Litchfield HillsConnecticutCozy Litchfield has preserved much of its original character. The National Park Service has called Litchfield “probably the finest example of a typical late 18th century New England town.”
Goshen, to the north, is smaller and less polished, but no less charming. West Cornwall is home to one of Connecticut’s few remaining covered bridges, built in 1841 and crossing the Housatonic River. Norfolk’s green is bordered by handsome buildings including Whitehouse mansion, bathed in glorious colonial white and home to Yale University’s Summer School of Music.
State of New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Developmentwww.visitnh.gov
Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketingwww.vermontvacation.com
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourismwww.massvacation.com
Connecticut Fall Foliage Driving Tourswww.ctvisit.com