Did you know the first place to see the colors of fall foliage in New England is Maine's Aroostook County? New England's most north easterly location welcomes the colors of the season in Late September and the towns of Allagash, St. Francis, Portage Lake, and Soldier Pond see the first reds, orange, and yellows! As the leaves begin to change and the crisp autumn air sets in, there's no better time to visit Aroostook County and witness the stunning fall foliage. With its wealth of natural beauty, Aroostook County offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the vibrant colors of the season, from the rich reds and oranges to the vibrant yellows and greens.
The fall colors arrive at different times, but it is safe to assume that the more northern areas turn first. The wet areas around bogs and marshes are also the first to change color as those trees often experience more stress. You often hear the phrase “Peak Color”, this is when the most amount of trees are the most beautiful they will be that season – it is very difficult to predict when exactly “Peak Color” will be but typically it is September 20th until October 5th. Track the changing colors with mainefoliage.com - this is the official tracking site for peak foliage.
Is it better to be a little early before peak or a little after peak? Think of it like this: before peak the leaves are usually green so there is a mix of green with the fall colors, after peak it is usually brown and leaves fall to the ground so it is fall colors with brown. In this example most people like to enjoy a little before peak.
Take A Picture & Have Fun
One of the best ways to experience the fall foliage in Aroostook County is by taking a scenic drive. The county boasts the St. John Valley/Fish River National Scenic Byway, Million Dollar Scenic Byway, and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Scenic Byway. Along the way, visitors can stop at various lookout points to take in the panoramic vistas. One of the most popular drives is the Fort Kent to Ashland route, which runs along Route 11. This 53-mile journey takes visitors through rolling hills, tranquil lakes, and dense forests, providing ample opportunities to witness the stunning display of fall colors.
For those who prefer to venture off the beaten path, Aroostook County offers a plethora of hiking trails that allow visitors to get up close and personal with the foliage. Haystack Mountain is a small hike with breath taking views - it is by the most popular hike for fall folliage. The Deboullie Public Reserve Land is a particularly popular destination for hikers, as it offers a unique perspective of the foliage from the water. Visitors can paddle through the waters of Deboullie Pond or wade upstream to cast a line for fall Maine brook trout – the native fish also displays bright red, orange, and yellow speckles as a show of fall breeding colors.
Another great way to experience the fall foliage in Aroostook County is by taking a leisurely ATV ride. The county has a network of 1,300 miles of trails that take visitors through some of the most scenic areas of the region – like the steel trestle bridge in Monticello that crosses the Meduxnekeag River. The Southern Bangor and Aroostook Trail is a 49-mile rail trail that runs along the former Bangor and Aroostook Railroad corridor, offering stunning views of the foliage and the opportunity to explore quaint towns and ATV-friendly restaurants along the way.
For those looking for one last camping trip of the season, Aroostook County also offers several camping options that allow visitors to wake up to the stunning colors of the fall foliage. The Aroostook State Park is a popular destination for campers, as it offers a range of camping options, including RV sites, lean-tos, and tent sites. Visitors can spend their days hiking, fishing, and exploring the surrounding area, all while taking in the vibrant colors of the season.
Events To Look Forward To!
In addition to its natural beauty, Aroostook County also offers a range of fall-themed events and activities. You can even jump on a trolly tour of the foliage in Presque Isle – Molly the Trolley offers several fall foliage tours to bring visitors right up close to some of the best colors and historic sites in the region. The Potato Feast Days is a popular one-day event that celebrates the region's potato harvest and fall foliage in Houlton’s Historic Market Square. The festival features live music, farmers’ market, local food vendors, and a range of activities for the whole family! The County’s Oktober Fest is a celebration of the Irish traditions in the region and takes place at the Legacy Ranch Event Center in Mars Hill, Maine.
Come North For The First Colors Of Fall
Overall, Aroostook County offers visitors a chance to witness the stunning beauty of fall foliage in a way that is both immersive and unforgettable. Whether you choose to take a scenic drive, hike through the wilderness, or camp under the vibrant colors of the trees, Aroostook County is sure to provide an unforgettable fall experience. So pack your bags and head to Aroostook County to be the first to witness one of nature's most stunning displays this season!
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