Anne of Green Gables – of fiery, red-headed fame – exclaimed “I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!” She was, of course, referring to the onset of Autumn in the birch trees of Green Gables. Long have humans (literary or otherwise) waxed lyrical about Autumn, or Fall as it is known in the United States. There is something that inspires awe and reverence as entire gardens and cities are transformed into a world of earthy colour, before settling down and snuggling up for winter snow. Forget about liking New York in June – the state’s lakes and parklands are all the more glorious with a carpet and canopy of reds and oranges.
New Yorkers are so proud, that a special team of volunteer Leaf Peepers is assembled to chart the progress of autumn by monitoring colour change in local trees. Foliage Maps are released weekly as updates.
Right now in November, Buffalo, which lies in the Greater Niagara region and is renowned worldwide as the origin place of the delicious Buffalo Wing, remains in the early stages of Fall. Buffalo Southtown has not reached peak foliage colour change, which means there is still time to see witness the full palette before the deep browns set in. Do so by car, following the scenic drives of highways 400 and 219, and sections of the I-90. Or opt to stretch your legs along the Eternal Flame Falls hiking trail in Chestnut Park. The small preserve is so called for the natural gas released from fissures in a small grotto at the base of the falls, which is lit to produce a little flame. A stroll through the rest of Chestnut Ridge Park and Orchard Park will reveal fire of a different variety, in the leafy shade sheltering the trails.
The aptly named Lake Placid village found in the Adirondacks of northern New York is a necessary stop for any keen walkers. Experienced, fit hikers can summit Mt. Marcy for a remarkable treetop vista showing off the Fall colours in all their leafy glory. Early in Autumn, Lake Placid celebrates the Flaming Leaves Festival – it is evident the locals love this season! The Finger Lakes region also boasts a collection of walks, particularly in the Watkins Glen National Park, where you can pass majestic waterfalls and, better yet, taste local wines amid the foliage. Continue the theme in the Central New York region and experience the flourishing local wine and beer crafting before fishing or boating on the Cazenovia Lake.
There is, of course, plenty of autumn to be had in New York City itself. Famous Central Park and its zoo, boathouse and lake are worthy of a wander year-round, but the elms, maples and oaks are especially dressed to impress from late September to early December. The Mall and Literary Walk at the park’s southern end is a wide pathway lined with rows of American Elms, one of the last and largest copses of its kind in the States. Circle the North Woods, the Reservoir and the Ramble for more bright hues.
The Hudson Valley is a beautiful day trip just out of New York City. Starting in the town of Rhinebeck, two hours north of NYC, meander your way back down by following the Hudson River and stopping in at the sleepy villages on the way. The largest Valley town, Poughkeepsie, is the proud location of the world’s longest pedestrian bridge. Other notable pit-stops en route include Sleepy Hollow, for the thrill-seekers familiar with the legend of the headless horseman, and Hyde Park, which is sandwiched between the estates of the prominent Vanderbilt and Roosevelt families and has an excellent riverside aspect.
Whether you choose to explore on foot, by car, or even along bike paths, you will fall in love with Fall in New York. There is something special about the transience of the season, and the knowledge that although winter might be coming, the brilliant and bold reds and oranges will return again next year.