Skip to main content

Experience Fall Foliage by Following The Upper Connecticut River Valley Loop

Sep 05, 2022 07:41AM ● By Virginia Dean
Observing the annual palette of fall colors, or commonly known as leaf peeping, is a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding—but not so easy—task. Peak foliage season runs from mid-September to mid-October, but peepers are often disappointed by trying to follow the peak line of foliage in Vermont or New Hampshire because it’s found at different times and places as the season progresses. It is, in essence, a moving target.

Foliage reports begin at the coldest point in the northeast, just south of Canada, and gradually follow the peak line down to the tip of the southeastern area of the United States. Photos reveal that this region—especially the northeast—gradually transforms into terms that indicate the actual condition of the leaves, including green, turning, moderate, peak, fading, and gone. As summer fades, so does the green chlorophyll that helps to make photosynthesis—or the way plants turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar—that is the building block for growth. The days get shorter, resulting in a loss of essential light and water.

Of particular interest is the Upper Connecticut River Valley Loop, a large north-south oval starting in Woodstock and traveling southward through Hartland and Windsor, westward toward West Bridgewater and Killington, northward to arch up to Randolph and Tunbridge, back around through Strafford to Woodstock, to Route 4 east to the Hanover/Lebanon/Lake Sunapee area in New Hampshire.


To explore this area, the following directions may be helpful:

  • Take Route 4 in Woodstock east to Taftsville
  • In Taftsville, take Route 12 to Hartland
  • In Hartland, take Route 5 to Windsor
  • In Windsor, take Route 44 west through Brownsville to Route 106
  • Take Route 106 south to Felchville
  • Follow Tyson Road west through South Reading to Tyson
  • Take Route 100 north from Tyson through Plymouth Union, West Bridgewater, Killington, Stockbridge, and Rochester
  • In Rochester, travel east on Bethel Mountain Road, Camp Brook Road, to Route 12
  • Take a left onto Route 12 north into Randolph
  • Travel east on Route 66 through Randolph Center to East Randolph
  • At Routes 66 and 14, turn right then left onto Chelsea Road, Angel Road, Dickerman Road to Route 110
  • Turn south on Route 110 through North Tunbridge to Tunbridge
  • Go east on Town Highway #2/Strafford Road from Tunbridge through Strafford and to South Strafford
  • In South Strafford, take Route 132 west to Sharon
  • Take Howe Hill Road south from Sharon through Hewitts Corners to Pomfret Road through South Pomfret to Route 12 and into Woodstock
  • From Woodstock, take Route 4 east to Hanover and Lebanon, New Hampshire. Travel along I-89 South to the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee/New London area, Exit 12, where Clark Lookout is the perfect place to see the scenery from an elevated view. (New Hampshire’s website has a perfect tool for tracking fall color change weekly across different regions.)
  • Recommended is the Sunapee Loop. From Greenfield, head north on Route 31 through Antrim and Hillsborough, past the Franklin Pierce Homestead through the towns of Windsor and Washington and past Pillsbury Park
  • Just south of Goshen, join Route 10; continue on to Newport and Grantham where you’ll turn on to Springfield Road, then Route 114 to Springfield. The route winds south through New London, Sutton, Bradford, and Henniker
  • In Henniker, turn east on to Route 202/9 to Hopkinton, where you’ll pick up Jewel Road, also known as Route 13, through Goffstown to Route 136, which leads back to Greenfield

Despite some of the frustration that can accompany leaf peeping, the best advice is to get out on those winding roads, hike the lush mountain paths, and stroll down the town greens to soak in the vibrant vistas of color that can turn your trip into a memorable seasonal splendor.

Vermont foliage reports, scenic drives, rail trails, and lodging can be found at or by calling (802) 828-3239.

Check out the New Hampshire foliage guide at

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Image's free newsletter to catch every headline