EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 22, 2013

A LEAF PEEPER'S PRIMER

By Sara Brown
sbrown@eagletribune.com

---- — New England is praised for its glorious, awe-inspiring autumns. So it’s no wonder that over the years tourism departments, residents and visitors have become very familiar with routes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire where drivers and their passengers can view the best of fall foliage as the leaves turn gold and crimson.

According to the Massachusetts Tourist Agency, the season starts in mid-to-late September -- in other words now, and peak

color often coincides with Columbus Day weekend.

Peak color is expected to be the same in New Hampshire, but could arrive a little earlier than expected, according to tourism experts.

“We are already seeing some great colors, so peak might be a little sooner,” said Tai Freligh, communications manager of the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development.

Her department has an app for the iPhone and Android that New Hampshire peepers who want the most up-to-date information about peak colors can download, she said.

“It gives twice-a-week foliage reports, as well as which scenic routes to take,” Freligh said.

The Massachusetts Tourist Agency suggests driving down Routes 2 and 4 to Lexington, then down Rout. 2A to Concord’s famous North Bridge and Minute Man statue. After Concord, travel down Sudbury Road through Sudbury Center.

Another colorful ride is Route 133 through Essex, Ipswich, Rowley and Georgetown. On its website, the agency describes this ride as “charming country back roads” and the “picture perfect New England towns.”

Also, Route 1A from Beverly to Newburyport is highly recommended. It travels through gorgeous open spaces and farms. The area also is home to more pre-1725 houses still standing than any other in the United States.

For those who can’t get enough of the season, the MTA has a blog called “Fall Foliage Off the Beaten Path.” Here people can find even more driving routes in Massachusetts.

In New Hampshire, Freligh suggests tourists travel Route 28 to Derry and Manchester.

“We get a lot of color there,” he said.

He also said driving to the White Mountain region is a must for any foliage enthusiast.

“It’s a very popular region,” he said. “The colors there are extraordinary.”

While in the White Mountains, he recommends taking Route 122 through Conway and checking out White Mountain National Forest.

He said along the way at the Russell Colbath Historic Site, children can learn about colonial history and ecology.

He said that many of the suggested scenic routes on the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development’s website also have farmer’s markets and other activities the family can enjoy.

“It’s that time of year for picking pumpkins and fresh fruits,” he said. “New Hampshire can definitely offer great experiences.”