In the northernmost reaches of New England, nature’s autumn spectacle begins to whisper through the trees of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire in late September before peaking mid-October. Fall comes later to the states farther south—Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island—generally arriving in mid-October and lasting to early November. The region has an abundance of extraordinary rail-trails on which to experience this temporal artwork at a stroll or gentle roll. We’ve listed some of our favorites here.
Rockingham Recreational Rail Trail
While it begins in New Hampshire’s largest city, Manchester, this 26.5-mile rail-trail quickly whisks explorers into hardwood and coniferous forest, past the shores of beautiful Lake Massabesic. The Portsmouth Branch of the rail-trail is for the adventurous, as it is secluded and unpaved. Mid-trail, in Raymond, a restored train depot and historical locomotive, caboose and boxcar are reminders of the corridor’s past as part of the Boston and Maine Railroad.
Missisquoi Valley Rail-Trail
Travelers will be rewarded for taking a ride along this trail in the crisp autumn air as they pedal under a canopy of radiant orange and yellow. Loosely paralleling its namesake river, the 26-mile crushed-stone pathway makes its way from the charming town of St. Albans nearly to the Canadian border.
Larkin State Park Trail
Get ready for one of the prettiest rides you may ever undertake. Nestled in the western woodlands of Connecticut, this unpaved rail-trail offers a remote and peaceful escape. The pathway is just a smidge over 10 miles and winds through picturesque rock cuts and wildlife-rich wetlands.
Four Seasons Adventure Trail
Although this trail has “four seasons” in its name, once you visit in the fall, you may not want to go any other time of year. The central Maine rail-trail links five towns, two rivers and three lakes over the course of 26 miles. True to the “adventure” part of its moniker, the route is gravel surfaced and traverses varied terrain, including woodlands, wetlands and pastoral landscapes.
Mass Central Rail Trail (Norwottuck Branch)
As a paved pathway connecting the college towns of Northampton and Amherst, this rail-trail makes nature easily accessible. Making the most of its 10-mile distance, the trail begins with a magnificent 1,492-foot iron bridge over the Connecticut River, offers views of Mount Holyoke in the distance, crosses two more bridges and provides birdwatching opportunities in adjacent wetlands.