The Best Places to See Fall Foliage in New York State
From the foothills of the Catskill Mountains to the peaks of the Adirondacks, New York is home to one of the most vivid autumns anywhere in the world. Whether you see them from the roadway or the air or hiking trail or canoe, the vibrant fall leaves of New York State serve as a constant reminder of the beauty that lies within the changing seasons. Here’s your everlasting map to the most scenic fall foliage destinations across the great state of New York.
Catskills – Giant Ledge
Waterfalls and high peaks await in the Catskill Forest Preserve, where you can see orange and brown leaves fall gracefully into pools of water or the ground far, far below.
Head to the Prospect Mountain above Lake George Village where spectacular views await at the summit. Most just drive the 5.9 mile toll road up to near the summit and then either walk or take the bus to the top. Or, you can take the 1.5 mile Prospect Mountain Trail for a quick climb! The leaves look extraordinary from a ways up.
West Point’s Trophy Point – a scenic overlook of the Hudson River Valley – is ideal for highland vistas. While you’re there, take a moment to glance away from the leaves and give your attention to the Battle Monument, one of the largest columns of granite in the world.
Middle Falls, Letchworth State Park
Autumn colors dazzle along the 17-mile gorge known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” at Letchworth State Park. It’s the perfect place to set up a picnic amid the rusty colors!
Catskill Mountain Railroad
Experience fall by rail! Board a Fall Foliage Train at Utica’s historic Union Station. Watch as the Adirondack Scenic Railroad takes you through remote forests, sparkling rivers and into the magnificent beauty of Adirondack Park. And for even more mountain foliage, hope aboard the Catskill Mountain Railroad–make sure to get a window seat!
Round up the whole family for the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad’s Pumpkin Patch Train, where you can soak in the changing colors of the foliage while the little ones ooh and ahh over the varying sizes of pumpkins along the way.
Here’s a wider list of scenic options by rail.
Climb the Saratoga Monument’s nearly 190 stairs to its 154-foot peak and see the Adirondack Mountains to the north, the Taconic Mountains to the east and the rolling Helderberg Mountains to the south. Make sure to take a moment to read the monument’s historical plaques commemorating the surrender of the British General Burgoyne to the American General Gates in 1777 (for more on this, visit our Path Through History website).
At New York’s easternmost point, Montauk Point Lighthouse – the oldest lighthouse in the state – points to westward horizons out one window, and stunning views of fall foliage out another. The Dunkirk Lighthouse on Lake Erie still guides maritime voyagers to its historic 61-foot tower. The view of the fall leaves against the blue water at both of these high points will take your breath away.
Who says you can’t enjoy nature in the big city? Take in stunning views of New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline aboard the Staten Island Ferry. The cityscape is trim with brownish-reddish foliage, making for a once-in-a-lifetime view.
Travel to Ithaca where you can pay New York’s highest waterfall at Taughannock Falls Overlook a visit. Travel with friends or family so you have someone to throw handfuls of fallen leaves at on your hike to water’s edge!
You can enjoy the fall without leaving your car! Soak in some of the state’s most breathtaking vistas from the comfort of the driver’s seat.
Drive the Scenic Byway along Erie Canal’s Mohawk Towpath, Cayuga Lake’s countless vineyards, or Upper Delaware’s quiet villages.
Bear Mountain State Park
Cruise the Palisades Parkway to Bear Mountain State Park’s rugged mountains, where the once green trees slowly turn the color of rust. Stop to fish or picnic…or, if you’re daring, take a dip in the chilly water!
Hunter Mountain Zipline
Fall foliage from a distance is really something. And by a distance, we mean vertical. Get a glimpse of a lifetime at Gore Mountain and Whiteface Mountain, where you can take a soaring gondola sky ride.
Calling all daredevils – strap on a Hunter Mountain Zipline Adventure Tour helmet and rocket through the forest canopy at heights of 600 feet on the longest zipline ride in North America.
Want go even higher? Step aboard a glider at Harris Hill Soaring Center and see the leaves turn to delicate brushstrokes on a larger landscape beneath you.
In Manhattan, climb the Empire State Building for a top-down look at the Big Apple – and all the trees that lie within.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge between NYC and Brooklyn to soak in some history while you enjoy the scenic collision of man-made beauty and vibrant foliage.
Get a 360-degree view of the cityscape from the heart of NYC on the 70-story Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center. It’s a spectacular view you don’t want to miss!