Leaf Peeping and Day Tripping in the Monadnock Region

The great writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, labeled Monadnock the “sapphire in the sky,” and Ralph Waldo Emerson called it “the new Olympus.” Henry David Thoreau wrote and wrote about his beloved wild haunt. All three remarkable writers had this in common—they were all inspired by the iconic Mount Monadnock and its unique countryside. And, these men knew a thing or two about how wilderness can open the mind, lift the soul, and cut through the mental clutter.

Mount Monadnock from Rt. 124 with colorful trees on the side of Rt. 124 - photo by Sonja Bolton

Mount Monadnock from Rt. 124 – photo by Sonja Bolton

Autumn is a particularly special time to be near the mountain. With expansive surrounding low country, the majestic peak stands out against the sky and is encircled in brilliant foliage. There is no wrong time to see fall in the Monadnock Region as it comes early and stays late. The many nearby lakes are bordered with deep red maples, which start the annual color processional and this slow progression ends with deep brown oaks clinging to their stubborn leaves.

Mount Monadnock and its 40 surrounding towns and villages offer easy access to gorgeous fall foliage paired with charm and adventure. Only 65 miles from Boston and 105 miles from Hartford, the stand-alone mountain is not to be missed! It is so accessible to Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, that a grand 125,000 hikers tackle its modest summit of 3165 feet every year.

Autumn colors - orange and gold in the Monadnock region

Leaf peeping and day tripping here will surely be memorable. Locals consider autumn a cause for celebration. With a healthy history of apple orchards and pumpkin patches, there is always something to do. Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, New Hampshire is renowned for its beautiful vistas and variety of apples and pumpkins. On weekends, find baby goats, food trucks, hayrides, and more!

There’s also lively Washburn’s Windy Hill Orchard in Greenville for fun, seasonal activities, including a corn maze, cider donut sundaes, and of course, plenty of pick-your-own (PYO) apples.

In the shadow of the mountain, historical, quaint downtowns and fall festivals are filled with a vibrant, local crafting culture. Stop by Stonewall Farm, the last working dairy farm in Keene, NH and visit with their organic, Holstein and Brown Swiss herd of cows. Take a hayride or build a fairy house on one of their forest or wetland trails.

Beautiful autumn scene with a blue pond and orange foliage; photo by Sonja Bolton

Autumn in New Hampshire – photo by Sonja Bolton

For a special event, consider their first Farm to Fork Harvest Festival featuring farmers, brewers, wineries, music, cooking demos and more! Happening Saturday, October 2 from 10-4, guests will pay a single entry fee and then be able to enjoy all the entertainment, good eats, and gorgeous scenery the festival has to offer.

As you float through the stunning scenery like a leaf on the crisp autumn breeze, it’s hard to miss one of the region’s 7 historic covered bridges! It’s nearly impossible to cross one without wanting to stop and savor the moment with a photograph or a picnic lunch. The Ashuelot Covered Bridge in Winchester, NH is definitely a highlight with its central pier, stone abutments and spanning a whopping 178 feet is in the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1864-65, you’ll want to walk the sidewalks on either side and experience New England history for yourself.

Colorful fall foliage at the Thompson Covered Bridge (Swanzey)

Thompson Covered Bridge (Swanzey)

If you are looking for secret waterfalls, stay at the Inn at East Hill Farm in Troy, NH and enjoy the little-known trail across from the Inn before the base of Gap Mountain. For a shorter mountain trek, the summit of Gap offers a stunning view of Mount Monadnock. The Inn has charming farm animals, delicious and filling meals, and even horseback riding!

If you have a moment to explore beyond the Monadnock Region, go north to Pillsbury State Park where you will find a primitive, tucked-away gem of the New Hampshire State Parks system. It plays an important ecological role for loons and moose as an essential link in the Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway, and it is the headwaters of the Ashuelot River which flows through the Monadnock Region, including Keene.

Autumn colors - maple trees with bright orange leaves

Quintessential autumn foliage in the Monadnock Region

From Washington, head east to Warner, NH and catch The Currier and Ives Scenic Byway. You’ll see the iconic villages and expansive vistas that inspired the famous lithographs by Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives.

Book a stay in the area for a couple of days and spend an afternoon enjoying the PYO experience, visiting quaint villages and towns, driving scenic routes, or any of the other unique autumn activities you’ll find in the Monadnock Region.

One of the region's inns, peeking through the maple trees, orange with blue sky in the background

One of the region’s inns, peeking through the maple trees

Whether you have lived here your whole life or are visiting for the first time, the brilliant colors of the season will take your breath away and still your heart. The multi-colored leaves fall into a vivid carpet of rainbow hues. Gigantic granite boulders resting under the whispering maple stands will make you believe you have stepped through the looking glass. In need of a reprieve from the daily hustle? We invite you to find it here.

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