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Old Aug 26, 11, 10:10 pm   #1
 
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Fall Foliage trip need advice

We are trying to form an itinerary for 4 nights approx, leaving and returning to NYC. Sometime between Oct 5 and 13.

Our rough itinerary is

1. NYC to Port Kent, NY (5 hours). OR Amtrak to Albany (2.5 hours) and drive from there. Cross Lake Champlain via Ferry 1 hour. Ferry closes after Oct. 10. Overnight in Burlington. We just thought of doing this as something different. Is it worth doing as part of a fall foliage trip?

2. Next day, 2 hours drive via route 89 and 91 to Lebanon, NH to visit a friend. Is this route scenic enough? Because we probably won't have time to see Kancamagus Highway. In the afternoon continue along route 91, 2.5 hours to Lenox, MA 2-3 nights. (Normal Rockwell museum, Edith Wharton house, walking around, daytrips from here)

3. Back to NYC.


We're not NE experts. Lived in Boston one year and then 5 in NYC. What do you think of the ferry ride? Should we skip this to make time to see Kancamagus highway and spend one night in NH instead of Burlington? In addition to Burlington? If we skip Burlington, should we take the Amtrak to Springfield MA instead? How is that train compared to the NYC-Albany one?

All advice appreciated, thanks.
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Old Aug 27, 11, 7:41 am   #2
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There are posts every year in this forum about trying to predict when the foliage will happen in certain areas. It's really a crapshoot, but here are some threads that I hope are useful:

Fall Foliage Drive to Lime Rock
(and note post #8 by tkey75 stating how the foliage in BTV was past peak already, dated September 28, 2010)

October 21st weekend in NE
(has a great link to a foliage predictor in post #3, and according to the predictor, most of New England will be in 'peak' territory during your visit).

With regard to your other questions... Personally I love the Kanc (as the locals call it) and would normally suggest that many times over the ferry. Just keep in mind that foliage traffic, combined with traffic for the Fryeburg Fair in Fryeburg, Maine will make the Conway side of the Kanc VERY VERY crowded. So be sure to plan accordingly if you go that route.

I don't have much expertise in any of the other points you raised, so hopefully others can chime in.
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Old Aug 27, 11, 12:27 pm   #3
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Lots of the leaf peeping this season will depend on how much damage the wind and rain do this weekend from Irene. It may take quite a few leaves off the trees before they are ready to come down.

By the middle of the week once the storm has gone past, I'm sure each chamber of commerce or whatever will issue updates and predictions.

Year to year there's really no easy way to follow where and when the colors will be, it's based on so many local conditions.

Just be flexible, and know one day instead of going north for a bit you may have to go south or whatever.
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Old Aug 28, 11, 7:35 am   #4
 
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I would do the Kancamagus. Even on Columbus Day weekend, the only major traffic tie up we usually hit is in North Conway. We may have wait a minute for a parking spot at some of the stops along the Kanc, but it's usually no big deal.

I'm not sure how many hotels in the White Mountains will allow you to spend just one night at that time of year, though. Sometimes it's actually easier to do on an award reservation, but it's late for that now. Actually, it's late for any reservations at all.

May be just me, but if I'd never been to NH or Vermont during foliage season, I would probably spend the four night in the north, and save Lenox for a seperate trip.

Last edited by mareh; Aug 28, 11 at 7:43 am..
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Old Aug 28, 11, 11:02 am   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ENFO View Post
1. NYC to Port Kent, NY (5 hours). OR Amtrak to Albany (2.5 hours) and drive from there. Cross Lake Champlain via Ferry 1 hour. Ferry closes after Oct. 10. Overnight in Burlington. We just thought of doing this as something different. Is it worth doing as part of a fall foliage trip?

2. Next day, 2 hours drive via route 89 and 91 to Lebanon, NH to visit a friend. Is this route scenic enough? Because we probably won't have time to see Kancamagus Highway. In the afternoon continue along route 91, 2.5 hours to Lenox, MA 2-3 nights.

3. Back to NYC.
I lived in this zone for ten years. You're sticking to the Interstates and missing much nicer scenic drives. The Kancamagus is beautiful but liable to be overrun with leaf-peepers in early October. You can do US2 or US302 also. I would recommend getting up into Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, north of St. Johnsbury, if you can. It is gorgeous that time of year.

The Lake Champlain ferry is not that big an adventure and can be pretty woolly that late in the season if the weather turns on you.

Here's a back-of-the-envelope five-day itinerary:

1. Amtrak to Albany, pick up car, drive NE to Rutland VT, head north on US7 through Addison County and Vergennes, overnight Burlington.

2. Take VT Route 15 eastbound to St. Johnsbury, loop through NE Kingdom, overnight St. Johnsbury.

3. Take US 2 east from St. J to Gorham, then head south on NH 16 to Conway; take the Kancamagus westbound back toward I-91 (or, alternatively from Conway, you can drop down to Ossipee Lake on NH Route 16, then head east on NH Route 25 to Plymouth and, eventually, I-91). Then turn south on I-91 and you'll quickly end up at Lebanon / Hanover; see your friend and overnight there.

4. From the Lebanon / White River Junction area, head west on US4. Pass through Woodstock. At mid-state, after you get past Killington, pick up Vermont Route 100 and follow it south to Ludlow, Londonderry, etc. across the Massachusetts state line; overnight Lenox.

5. Morning in Lenox, afternoon quick drive back to Albany and Amtrak home.

VT Route 100 is one of the nicest fall foliage drives in Christiandom... not to be missed.

I've deliberately kept you off I-93 / Franconia Notch in NH as it too can be overrun by foliage enthusiasts and the back roads are a more fun drive.

I agree with mareh that you had better get busy with hotel bookings... have a good trip.
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Old Aug 30, 11, 10:18 am   #6
 
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Thanks for everyone's comments. Most appreciated!

@lo2e - Great link to foliage predictor, thanks. And we will try to be there after the Fryeburg Fair.

@cordelli - Yes, I saw the news about heavy flooding in VT and NH, some old covered bridges swept away, trees fallen and roads damaged. Not sure yet how this will affect fall tourism in NE but I suspect that it will take more than a month to clean up and that if we do go as planned we may run into unusual conditions due to Irene damage.

@mareh - Yes we do feel the urgency to book accommodations, hence all this panning for advice. I've been seeing some availability still, and most two night mandatory stays are reserved for weekends -thank goodness we have some flexibility.

@BearX220 - Thank you for your very helpful suggested routes! I wanted to save the bulk of my questions for you but anyone please feel free to chime in.

I've been able to focus a bit more on our needs thanks to all your comments.

First, we prefer to keep our car all the way back to NYC (we have other separate commitments in the Poconos, PA the following week), so I'll skip the return drive to Albany/ Amtrak.

Next, we are trying to stay 2 nights in one place at least. We have a 5 year old with us and feel that 4 overnights paired with car driving might be too much. To make this doable, we can save one night by skipping Burlington and the ferry, in favor of Kancamagus Highway. Although the rest of northern VT sounds beautiful, we will probably save it, incl NE Kingdom, for another trip as per mareh's suggestion. And so try to make the Kanc the northernmost part of the trip.

So based on your remaining suggestions, do you think we can drive from Albany straight to St Johnsbury or another town south of St J? Overnight there, then next day do the loop of 302 eastward and return on the Kanc on the way to Lebanon. OR can we drive to Lebanon instead and do said loop as a daytrip from Lebanon area, which will shorten our first day's drive and give us 2 nights in one place.

If either of the above is a good idea, what is the best route from Albany. Should we still go via Rutland? How to get from Rutland to Lebanon (or St J) and can you recommend anywhere else to stop south of St J so we won't be so far north. I believe this involves part time on 91 and need your feedback. And thanks for the rec to say off I-93.

And also keep in mind, we are not tied to Albany although I understand it's a pretty train trip - we can drive from NYC as well.

Then from Lebanon take route 100 as you suggested to spend final two nights in Lenox.

Now that you know our proposed route, now is the time for you and anyone else to suggest where to stop along the way! (Meals, rest stops, photo ops, etc)
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Old Aug 30, 11, 10:25 am   #7
 
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Originally Posted by BearX220 View Post
I lived in this zone for ten years. You're sticking to the Interstates and missing much nicer scenic drives. The Kancamagus is beautiful but liable to be overrun with leaf-peepers in early October. You can do US2 or US302 also. I would recommend getting up into Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, north of St. Johnsbury, if you can. It is gorgeous that time of year.

The Lake Champlain ferry is not that big an adventure and can be pretty woolly that late in the season if the weather turns on you.

Here's a back-of-the-envelope five-day itinerary:

1. Amtrak to Albany, pick up car, drive NE to Rutland VT, head north on US7 through Addison County and Vergennes, overnight Burlington.

2. Take VT Route 15 eastbound to St. Johnsbury, loop through NE Kingdom, overnight St. Johnsbury.

3. Take US 2 east from St. J to Gorham, then head south on NH 16 to Conway; take the Kancamagus westbound back toward I-91 (or, alternatively from Conway, you can drop down to Ossipee Lake on NH Route 16, then head east on NH Route 25 to Plymouth and, eventually, I-91). Then turn south on I-91 and you'll quickly end up at Lebanon / Hanover; see your friend and overnight there.

4. From the Lebanon / White River Junction area, head west on US4. Pass through Woodstock. At mid-state, after you get past Killington, pick up Vermont Route 100 and follow it south to Ludlow, Londonderry, etc. across the Massachusetts state line; overnight Lenox.

5. Morning in Lenox, afternoon quick drive back to Albany and Amtrak home.

VT Route 100 is one of the nicest fall foliage drives in Christiandom... not to be missed.

I've deliberately kept you off I-93 / Franconia Notch in NH as it too can be overrun by foliage enthusiasts and the back roads are a more fun drive.

I agree with mareh that you had better get busy with hotel bookings... have a good trip.
In general, I concur with BearX220. Stay off the Interstates as much as you can, and don't bother with the ferry. The big crap shoot is now the fact that Irene trashed portions of the key routes in Vermont including Rte 100, Rte 4, and Rte 7. Depending on how quickly they do repairs, you may need to spend more time in NH. Drive roads like 2, 302, 16, 112, and 25. Roads along the Connecticut Valley like 12A and 10 can be nice to (ignoring the sprawl in West Lebanon where they cross I-89). And yes, the Berkshires are beautiful too, so time spent driving from Pittsfield down through Lenox, Lee, and Stockbridge would be nice.
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Old Aug 30, 11, 11:11 am   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ENFO View Post
Thanks for everyone's comments. Most appreciated!

@lo2e - Great link to foliage predictor, thanks. And we will try to be there after the Fryeburg Fair.

@cordelli - Yes, I saw the news about heavy flooding in VT and NH, some old covered bridges swept away, trees fallen and roads damaged. Not sure yet how this will affect fall tourism in NE but I suspect that it will take more than a month to clean up and that if we do go as planned we may run into unusual conditions due to Irene damage.

@mareh - Yes we do feel the urgency to book accommodations, hence all this panning for advice. I've been seeing some availability still, and most two night mandatory stays are reserved for weekends -thank goodness we have some flexibility.

@BearX220 - Thank you for your very helpful suggested routes! I wanted to save the bulk of my questions for you but anyone please feel free to chime in.

I've been able to focus a bit more on our needs thanks to all your comments.

First, we prefer to keep our car all the way back to NYC (we have other separate commitments in the Poconos, PA the following week), so I'll skip the return drive to Albany/ Amtrak.

Next, we are trying to stay 2 nights in one place at least. We have a 5 year old with us and feel that 4 overnights paired with car driving might be too much. To make this doable, we can save one night by skipping Burlington and the ferry, in favor of Kancamagus Highway. Although the rest of northern VT sounds beautiful, we will probably save it, incl NE Kingdom, for another trip as per mareh's suggestion. And so try to make the Kanc the northernmost part of the trip.

So based on your remaining suggestions, do you think we can drive from Albany straight to St Johnsbury or another town south of St J? Overnight there, then next day do the loop of 302 eastward and return on the Kanc on the way to Lebanon. OR can we drive to Lebanon instead and do said loop as a daytrip from Lebanon area, which will shorten our first day's drive and give us 2 nights in one place.

If either of the above is a good idea, what is the best route from Albany. Should we still go via Rutland? How to get from Rutland to Lebanon (or St J) and can you recommend anywhere else to stop south of St J so we won't be so far north. I believe this involves part time on 91 and need your feedback. And thanks for the rec to say off I-93.

And also keep in mind, we are not tied to Albany although I understand it's a pretty train trip - we can drive from NYC as well.

Then from Lebanon take route 100 as you suggested to spend final two nights in Lenox.

Now that you know our proposed route, now is the time for you and anyone else to suggest where to stop along the way! (Meals, rest stops, photo ops, etc)
Here is a handy web site to check for Vermont road closings.
http://www.511vt.com/default.asp?area=VT_statewide

Normally, the fastest way from Albany to Lebanon is I-87 to Glens Falls and then Route 4 east through Whitehall, Rutland, and Woodstock to I-89. Right now, Rte 4 is closed between Rutland and Woodstock. Alternatives include Route 9 east to Bennington and Brattleboro and then up I-91 to I-89. Route 9 is currently closed as well.
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Old Aug 31, 11, 10:07 am   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ENFO View Post
@BearX220 - Thank you for your very helpful suggested routes! I wanted to save the bulk of my questions for you but anyone please feel free to chime in.

I've been able to focus a bit more on our needs thanks to all your comments.

First, we prefer to keep our car all the way back to NYC (we have other separate commitments in the Poconos, PA the following week), so I'll skip the return drive to Albany/ Amtrak.

Next, we are trying to stay 2 nights in one place at least. We have a 5 year old with us and feel that 4 overnights paired with car driving might be too much. To make this doable, we can save one night by skipping Burlington and the ferry, in favor of Kancamagus Highway. Although the rest of northern VT sounds beautiful, we will probably save it, incl NE Kingdom, for another trip as per mareh's suggestion. And so try to make the Kanc the northernmost part of the trip.

So based on your remaining suggestions, do you think we can drive from Albany straight to St Johnsbury or another town south of St J? Overnight there, then next day do the loop of 302 eastward and return on the Kanc on the way to Lebanon. OR can we drive to Lebanon instead and do said loop as a daytrip from Lebanon area, which will shorten our first day's drive and give us 2 nights in one place.

If either of the above is a good idea, what is the best route from Albany. Should we still go via Rutland? How to get from Rutland to Lebanon (or St J) and can you recommend anywhere else to stop south of St J so we won't be so far north. I believe this involves part time on 91 and need your feedback. And thanks for the rec to say off I-93.
Ah.... you didn't mention the five-year-old. And nobody foresaw Irene doing so much damage. Obviously I wrote the post above before the storm. But I expect they will move heaven and earth to at least get the state and US roads open in the next 30 days.

If you are still picking up the car in Albany, and not driving up from NYC, I would suggest:

Day 1: Albany to Rutland, US Route 4 over Killington and through Woodstock to the Connecticut River, West Lebanon, and I-91 northbound, then up to St. Johnsbury. West Leb to St. J is only another 60 to 75 minutes. Overnight in St. J for two nights (or nearby Littleton, NH, about 15 minutes south, which has some good kid-friendly hotels including a serviceable Hampton Inn).

Day 2: Do your Kancamagus loop and perhaps poke around the Northeast Kingdom too, depending on young one's stamina; return to St. J.

Day 3: Drop back down to Lebanon / Hanover area, hopefully opting for off-Interstate indirect route through either VT or NH; overnight with your friend.

Day 4: Head back west on US Route 4 to the junction with Vermont Route 100, then turn south for Ludlow and eventually Lenox. Overnight Lenox.

Day 5: Lenox until early afternoon, then drive back to NYC (four hours).

The southern part of Vermont has sustained the most havoc from Irene... Brattleboro is a mess right now... and the Woodstock / Quechee area has been hurt. But the north isn't so bad off -- I've spoken to friends up there who are OK, just waterlogged. Everyone will welcome your trade; the state needs leaf tourism dollars.

I would caution, finally, that a fair amount of Vermont accommodation consists of quaint storybook B&Bs full of quiet character and bric-a-brac that represent a challenge / stressor for small children and the adults in their employ. I would book into proper hotels / motels in the St. J area and in Lenox.
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Old Aug 31, 11, 11:17 am   #10
 
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@BearX220: Re 5 yr old - Sorry about that! Yes it has definitely narrowed down our prospective places to stay! Most of the nicest looking B&B's I've seen don't take children anyway, but we have seen some with guesthouses surrounding the main building where parties with children can stay. The advantage is most hotels/ motels don't require a min 2 night stay. There's a highly rated Comfort Inn in St J as well.

Northern VT seems less affected than middle and south Vermont so we may end up in St J as per your original rec, although I read this morning that Kancamagus Highway 112 is closed from Conway to Lincoln. We can do 2 or 302 and 25.


@RDU-Man - Thanks for your alternative road suggestions. Re 12A and 10, if we take this route up to Lebanon, should we drive from NYC and cut through MA instead of renting from Albany? It seems like most roads west to east from Albany through VT are heavily damaged, incl 4, 7 and 100. So we may be better off driving up NH to go to northern VT. At least until further road updates.

Finally, I'm not hearing much about it but I know there's some damage in MA Berkshires as well.

Last edited by ENFO; Aug 31, 11 at 11:25 am..
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Old Aug 31, 11, 12:42 pm   #11
 
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I don't know if you're still going to the White Mountains, but if you do, your five-year-old might enjoy the "return of Pumpkin People" competition in Jackson, NH. (This is assuming they don't have to cancel due to the storm damage.) Go to the center of town to get a map that shows the location of the entries.
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Old Sep 1, 11, 10:37 am   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ENFO View Post
@BearX220:
@RDU-Man - Thanks for your alternative road suggestions. Re 12A and 10, if we take this route up to Lebanon, should we drive from NYC and cut through MA instead of renting from Albany? It seems like most roads west to east from Albany through VT are heavily damaged, incl 4, 7 and 100. So we may be better off driving up NH to go to northern VT. At least until further road updates.

Finally, I'm not hearing much about it but I know there's some damage in MA Berkshires as well.
If you end up having to skip Vermont because of ongoing road problems, yes, I would drive direct from NYC via CT and MA. Depending on what part of the city you are in, I recommend avoiding the coastal route via I-95 to New Haven to I-91. Instead, head up I-684 through White Plains to connect to I-84 near Danbury CT and continue on up to join I-91 at Hartford, CT. Once you get north of Springfield, MA, I-91 is fairly scenic, especially in Vermont. Stay on I-91 to get up to the St. Johnsbury, VT area, or get off at I-89 in White River Junction to cross over to Lebanon.

Better yet, if you have a few extra minutes, get off I-91 at Exit 8 (Ascutney, Rte 131). Then drive north along US 5/VT 12 along the river to Windsor, turn right, and drive across the covered bridge to Rte 12A in NH and take 12A north to Lebanon. The bridge is one of the longest covered bridges in the country and fun to drive across http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornish...Covered_Bridge

Last edited by RDU-Man; Sep 1, 11 at 10:44 am..
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Old Sep 1, 11, 11:11 am   #13
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RDU-Man's advice and suggestions are also excellent, especially when it comes to routes to take when escaping NYC. I only use I-95 between 11pm and 5am and even then it's not surefire.

Judging from the progress made in Vermont since the weekend on emergency repairs, though, I am sure all principal VT byways will be open for business by OP's trip date of 5 October.
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Old Sep 1, 11, 9:34 pm   #14
 
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Thanks everyone for all the advice!

I am hoping for speedy road repairs. From what I have seen the progress so far has only been enough to allow emergency vehicles and 4WD.

A bit long if we end up driving from NYC. Maybe take MA 90 from Albany instead? Route 2 MA is damaged also.

Last edited by ENFO; Sep 1, 11 at 10:08 pm..
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Old Sep 2, 11, 9:38 am   #15
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I am hoping for speedy road repairs. From what I have seen the progress so far has only been enough to allow emergency vehicles and 4WD.
It's only been three days. You're not traveling for five weeks, yes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ENFO
A bit long if we end up driving from NYC. Maybe take MA 90 from Albany instead? Route 2 MA is damaged also.
No, if you're starting out from NYC, do as RDU-Man suggested upthread: I-684 to I-84 east to I-91 north through Massachusetts and into Vermont. Faster and easier.
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