The 5 Best Fall Foliage Drives in New England and Canada

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For Condé Nast Traveler, by Paul Rubio.

From Nova Scotia to Maine, get your fall foliage on with these ultimate scenic road trips.

1. The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Island in northeastern Nova Scotia has received a lot of international attention this year as the Canadian island for Americans who want to escape Donald Trump. But regardless of political hoopla, in mid-October the island’s serene, 185-mile Cabot trail doles out awesome autumn scenery, winding along rocky coastline and through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Expect plenty of postcard-perfect small towns, ice cream shops, and fishing villages dotting the trail, as well as the world’s only opportunity to snorkel with pilot whales (which takes place until mid-October, depending on sea conditions).

2. The Laurentian Mountains, Quebec

Come late September, it’s time to choose your own autumn adventure through southern Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. Explore the panoramic passages of Parc National du Mont-Tremblant, awash in reds, oranges and yellows thanks to an abundance of sugar maples, red maples, yellow birch, and American beech trees. Add a little culture and city to your trip and head, just 90 minutes south, to Montreal on colorful Route 115.

3. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park is Maine’s apex of natural brilliance, and this is never truer than throughout October when the boulder-strewn coastline, dense deciduous forest, and iconic Cadillac Mountain glow in autumn colors. Expect a bit of traffic along the 27-mile Park Loop Road—the secret’s long been out that the park’s main route is lined with picture-perfect observation points. For more intimate experiences with Acadia, detour on to unpaved roads; or better yet, park the car for a bit and cycle, hike or venture on horseback on the myriad, carless “carriage roads” that zigzag through the heart of the park.

4. Green Mountain & Shires of Vermont Byways, Vermont

New England leaf viewing is at its finest in Vermont, where wilderness claims 75 percent of the land. With more maple trees than anywhere else in the region, you can hedge your bets on the brightest of colors on nearly every highway and country road. To see the best-of-the-best foliage, travel late September to mid-October between the mountain ridges of Waterbury and Stowe on the 11-mile Green Mountain Byway in northern Vermont, and along the Shires of Vermont Byway between the Taconic Mountains and the Green Mountains in southeastern Vermont.

5. Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

The Kancamagus Highway (or the “Kanc” as locals call it) is northern New Hampshire’s venerable claim to fame, a scenic 35-mile stretch of Route 112 through the White Mountain National Forest, erupting with vibrant, changing leaves over multiple elevations between late September and mid-October. The scenic drive is void of gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and the like, allowing nature to take center stage. Breathe in the fresh air and fill your memory card with the array of kaleidoscopic spectacles. Also, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the route’s many waterfalls such as Sabbaday Falls or Rocky Gorge.

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