If you’re searching for the most breathtaking fall foliage in the U.S., look no further than New England.
The temperature changes that fall brings, coupled with the dense trees and forestry, allow for a spectacular show of reds, oranges, yellows, browns, and even purple.
In the Northeast U.S., Massachusetts is known, in particular, for its majestic scene of fiery foliage. Keep reading for five popular places to check out Massachusetts fall foliage up close and what these unique locations offer.
Massachusetts Fall Foliage: Go-To Destinations
1. Mount Greylock State Reservation
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature and experience the warm fall foliage firsthand, then you’ll thoroughly enjoy visiting Mount Greylock State Reservation.
Located in northwest Massachusetts, Mount Greylock State Reservation is a public reservation and nature preservation area. The park spans some 12,000 acres of forest and trails, spreading across the towns of Lanesborough, North Adams, Adams, Cheshire, Williamstown, and New Ashford, Massachusetts.
The summit of Mount Greylock is 3,491 feet–the highest point in the state! The expansive, unobstructed views span five states. On a clear day, visitors can see as far as 90 miles away! It’s known as one of the best places to view the fall foliage in the Berkshires.
Mount Greylock is home to the only taiga forest in the state of Massachusetts, otherwise known as a boreal or snow forest. Snow forests are characterized by coniferous trees, which mainly include pine trees, spruces, and larches.
At the top of Mount Greylock, you’ll see the Veterans War Memorial Tower, a 92-foot tower built in 1932 to designate the highest point in the state. If you visit the summit, you can climb the tower’s internal circular staircase and observe the mighty views from above.
Walking isn’t the only way to reach the summit. You can also drive to the top of Mount Greylock via its access road–but make sure you do so before the fall is over! The access road closes at the end of October and remains closed until late May. Check the park’s website for precise dates. There is a $2 fee to park in the summit parking lot.
Experience the beauty of Mount Greylock through one of its many hiking trails. The mountain is home to more than 70 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and mountain biking in the fall. Some trails are longer and more intensive, while others are brisk and easy enough for beginners. Dogs are welcome on trails, but must be on a leash.
- Glenn Meadow Loop is a 1.7-mile trail near Adams that’s great for beginners and families. It’s generally considered an easy route and only takes 33 minutes to complete.
- Cataract Falls Trail is a 2.2-mile trail near Ashford and is considered moderately challenging. The trail takes about an hour and eight minutes to complete and is particularly popular for hiking and running.
- Gould Trail is a 5.5-mile trail near Adams, and it’s generally considered a challenging route. Open year-round, it’s a popular trail for both hiking and snow-shoeing, and you’re likely to see other passersby. The trail takes about three hours and 50 minutes to complete.
- Saddle Ball Mountain Trail is a 7.6-mile loop trail near Cheshire, and it’s considered moderately challenging. Like Gould Trail, Saddle Ball Mountain Trail is popular for hiking and snowshoeing.The trail takes about four hours and three minutes to complete.
If you’d like to stay for a night or two, Bascom Lodge is located at the top of Mount Greylock. In addition to lodging, an onsite restaurant, and a bakery, Bascom Lodge also hosts events like weddings and workshops.
You can also opt to camp at the Mount Greylock Campground or stay in one of five remote trailside backpack shelters. The campground (for tents and RVs) and backpack shelters are only accessible on foot.
2. October Mountain State Forest
What better way to experience the fall foliage than with a visit to a mountain that’s named for the occasion?
October Mountain State Forest is the largest state forest and recreational preserve in all of Massachusetts, spanning 16,500 acres of undisturbed forest. The forest is mostly concentrated in the town of Washington. Because it’s so expansive, there are so many different places to relish in the beautiful fall foliage. When you visit this state forest, you’ll be immersed in the sights, sounds, and colors of fall!
October Mountain was given its name from Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick. Melville was able to see the mountain’s majestic colors from his home in Pittsfield, 10 miles away.
The state forest is home to upwards of 130 hiking trails that are fit for all fitness and experience levels.
Schermerhorn Gorge Trail is one of the most popular trails at October State Mountain State Park. It spans less than three miles and leads guests right to Shermerhorn Gorge, a 30-foot waterfall consisting of two distinct falls. Visitors will follow above a stream for half of the trail, which is a relatively moderate hike. However, it’s important to note that black bears might be in the area!
Other known trails include:
- October Mountain Loop, a seven-mile trail in Lenox that’ll take you to the highest peak in the forest for a stunning, one-of-a-kind view. The trail runs along one of the more remote areas in the forest and takes visitors along a river and a small lake.
- Finerty Pond via Appalachian Trail is a 5.9-mile trail near Tyringham, and it’s generally considered a moderate hike. The trail takes about three hours and seven minutes to complete and takes visitors into the deep woods and by a pond.
October Mountain State Forest is home to many kinds of furry friends and animal critters, some big and others small. Some of the animals you might see at October Mountain State Forest include squirrels, ducks, geese, deer, raccoons, woodchucks, and beavers, as well as black bears and bobcats–so it’s important to take caution!
There are many activities for guests at October Mountain State Forest to participate in. Guests may canoe, kayak, or boat, so long as it’s a non-motorized boat. Guests can also go mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Fishing and hunting are also permitted.
Visitors can stay overnight at October Mountain State Forest from mid-May through mid-October at one of the 44 designated campsites next to October Mountain Reservoir. Guests may stay in tents or RVs, or one of the three onsite yurts, which feature a three-tiered layout.
3. Forest Hills Cemetery
Located in Boston, Forest Hills Cemetery is far smaller than the aforementioned locations on this list, but it’s a beautiful sight to see, nonetheless. A visit to this historic garden cemetery in the midst of the spooky season brings together the views of fall foliage with the ominous vibes of the upcoming holiday.
The Victorian-style cemetery earns a spot on our list because of its majestic color show during the fall. As the trees surrounding Forest Hills Cemetery begin to change, the grounds become coated in a multicolored layer of fallen leaves. Many fall photos of the cemetery are so vibrant they look enhanced–however, the brightness truly depicts how the cemetery looks.
Founded in 1848, Forest Hills Cemetery spans 275 acres of greenery and art, which includes memorials, sculptures, architecture, a waterfall and fountain, and a serene lake. The cemetery was named one of the “1000 Greatest Places” in Massachusetts and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
4. Maudslay State Park
Maudslay State Park sits on 450 picturesque acres and is nestled between the Merrimack and Artichoke rivers. The park’s expansive nature preserve includes meadows, fields, 19th-century gardens, tall white pines–which the park is known for–and its resident bald eagles. Maudslay State Park comes alive with color during the fall months.
The state park carries a bit of history on its grounds. The park is the former estate of the Moseley’s, a wealthy family that was once widely known in the area. The grounds became recognized as a state park in 1985 after being acquired by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management. Guests are now welcome year-round to hike the park’s 16 miles of trails.
Maudslay State Park operates Theater in the Open, which performs three live outdoor theater shows each year. In October, the theater holds its “Maudslay is Haunted” annual walk.
5. Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation
Soak in the awe-inspiring views from the top of Mount Sugarloaf! Mount Sugarloaf offers two summits and some of the tallest peaks in Central Massachusetts. With expansive views of the Connecticut River Valley, you won’t be disappointed to pay this state park a visit during the height of the leaf-peeping season, when the trees take on sizzling crimson and sunshine-golden hues.
Located in South Deerfield, Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation spans 633 acres. North Sugarloaf Mountain, its tallest summit, reaches a height of 791 feet, and its more popular summit, South Sugarloaf Mountain, tops 652 feet.
Take a walk through Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation on any of its four main hiking trails, ranging in length from 0.3 to three miles. These trails include a portion of the Pocumtuck Ridge Trail, the Aspiring Oaks Trail, the Hemlock Trail, and the Old Mountain Trail.
Experience Mount Sugarloaf from the top by checking out the observation tower on South Sugarloaf. Edge of Darkness, a 2010 film starring Mel Gibson, was filmed at the summit of South Sugarloaf! The summit can be accessed on foot or via a parking lot, which is open from late spring through the fall. The summit also has a picnic pavilion with a grill and a few picnic tables.
You’ll ‘Fall’ in Love With Massachusetts Fall Foliage
If you plan to visit New England during this year’s leaf-peeping season, don’t cut through Massachusetts without making a few stops along the way. Stop by any of the five locations on our list, and you won’t be disappointed with the striking, unforgettable views of nature’s artwork cast on mountains, hillsides, and across state parks.
Interested in other must-visit locations for seeing fall foliage in the northeast? Check out our post, The Best Spots to See New York Fall Foliage, to learn more!