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When September and October arrive, leaf peeping in Massachusetts is a real treat. Of course, leaf peeping with a view is even better.
From majestic lookout points in the Berkshires to tucked-away ponds along the North Shore, the Commonwealth has a wide range of places where foliage fans can see autumn at its best.
So, grab your camera and pick out a nice day for a visit! Any time at these five spots during fall will be time well spent.
Stockbridge Bowl in Stockbridge, MA
Stockbridge Bowl, known better to some as Lake Mahkeenac, is man-made, but it’s Mother Nature that makes it shine every year. Located in the Berkshires, where some of the most spectacular fall foliage in all of the United States can be found, Stockbridge Bowl displays stunning colors against the backdrop of the lake.
Photo: Peak foliage at Stockbridge Bowl
Wheatleigh, the Gilded Age villa home built by Henry and Mary Cook, can actually be seen from the water, which is accessible by boat, provided that the boat has been properly cleaned beforehand. For those traveling to the area, Stockbridge has a number of lodgings, including the Stockbridge Country Inn and 1796 Stockbridge House.
Mount Sugarloaf State Reservation in South Deerfield, MA
Franklin County in Western Massachusetts is another area recognized for its stunning autumn colors and Mount Sugarloaf provides one of the top elevation points to take it in. At the pinnacle, the mountain opens visitors’ eyes to a majestic panorama of surrounding scenery, including the Connecticut River, Pioneer Valley and Berkshires.
Photo: View from the top of Mount Sugarloaf in autumn
For those who’d like to drive, a road that winds its way to the summit is open from 9 a.m. to sunset through October 18. The peak area also happens to have a pavilion area for picnicking, making it a place where passersby can comfortably spend a few hours. To put your feet up nearby, the South Deerfield Red Roof Inn and Deerfield Inn are convenient options.
Doane’s Falls in Royalston, MA
Courtesy of the prehistoric glaciers that covered Central Massachusetts many moons ago, Royalston is home to a series of waterfalls that eventually cascade 45 feet into a central basin. Doane’s Falls is perhaps even more enjoyable during fall than summer, as the surrounding trees create a delightfully picturesque frame for the water’s boisterous activity.
Photo: Doane’s Falls in Royalston, MA
Doane’s Falls is also something of a turning point for the river, which is quite placid a bit upstream but begins to rush before reaching Tully Lake. The nearby upstream area is home to Coddings Meadow, too, where hikers can see the river in its still-calm state and enjoy some lunch. For anyone traveling to the area, the Clamber Hill Inn in Petersham is cozy overnight spot.
Birch Pond in Lynn, MA
Birch Pond might not be one of Massachusetts’ most celebrated foliage destinations, but when peak foliage arrives, its colors are something to behold. The pond borders the west side of Lynn, a city of around 90,000 that’s located 14 miles north of Boston.
Photo: Peak colors at Birch Pond, image by Jeff Folger
Parking can be tough to find near the pond, which is flanked by Walnut Street on its west side, so the best bet for visitors is to look for a spot on Pond Street or Birchwood Avenue, just across the city border in Saugus. Before or after a day around the pond, Chisholm’s Motor Inn is a suitable and budget-friendly place to stay.
Wayside Inn Grist Mill in Sudbury, MA
A Massachusetts landmark, the Grist Mill in Sudbury isn’t just a part of the country’s oldest operating inn. It’s also a magnificent leaf peeping location, as the iconic stone building provides a sharp contrast with the vivid red wheel and surrounding trees.
Photo: Wayside Inn Grist Mill during fall
In addition to the landscape, the Wayside Inn is also home to a charming restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are a wide variety of choices for fare, drawn from land and sea; gluten-free dishes are available, too. When it comes to staying over, the inn itself is a real prize, but rooms do get gobbled up quickly. Because of that, it’s best to book well in advance or look into alternate lodgings.
Where is your top leaf peeping spot in Massachusetts? Tell us in the comments!