Experience the Best of Fall Foliage in New York State During Holiday Weekend

Bethpage State Park, Long Island, in fall © 2013 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The long Columbus Day weekend coincides with the peaking of fall foliage in many parts of  New York State, which can be enjoyed by visiting a state park or local event and experience the vibrant fall foliage colors throughout New York State.

Fall colors will be at their peak this weekend in Chautauqua-Allegheny, Central New York, and Capital-Saratoga regions, with additional areas of peak color emerging in the Catskills and Finger Lakes regions.

As one of the nation’s top agricultural states, New York is also replete with harvest celebrations for everything from apples to pumpkins, including wine festivals complete with grape stomping. Even when there’s no official festival on tap, it’s easy to find pick-your-own fruit orchards and pumpkin fields, many with petting zoos, whimsical corn mazes, hayrides and crafts, while food and wine lovers can follow regional wine, beer and cheese trails and enjoy farm-to-table dining by local chefs who style the seasonal harvest in creative recipes.

Don’t want to drive? Take advantage of six fall-themed getaways by riding the MTA trains:

· LIRR to Montauk Chowder Contest | Oct. 12-13
· Metro-North to NYS Sheep & Wool Fest | Oct. 20
· LIRR to Oyster Festival | Oct. 19-20
· LIRR to Port Jefferson Harvest Fest | Oct. 27
· Metro-North to Dutchess Harvest Weekends
· Metro-North to Walkway Over the Hudson

Discover the natural beauty at the tip of Long Island with the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk Village Package. This weekend is Montauk’s Famous Clam Chowder Tasting Contest, where you’ll enjoy clam and oyster shucking, beer and wine tasting, great food, live music, farmer’s market, kids rides, carousel, famous crab races. A short taxi ride from the LIRR, a walk through Montauk Village lets you experience the unique shops, restaurants, parks, trails, beaches, golf and fishing – it’s like being in paradise! Montauk’s laid back atmosphere will have you coming back time and time again. For more information on the contest, call 631-668-2428. For more information on getting there, visit http://www.mta.info/lirr and click on “Deals & Getaways” at the bottom of the page.

The New York State Sheep and Wool Family Festival on Sunday, October 20, draws thousands of visitors to the lovely village of Rhinebeck. And there’s more here than sheep, llamas, alpacas, and their luscious fibers. Take Metro-North’s One-Day Getaway to see 300 fiber artists and crafts galore, amazing sheepherding demonstrations and sheepdog trials, great food and music, a petting zoo, hay maze, and other children’s activities, plus the ever-popular Punkin’ Chuckin’ competition. For all the details, visit http://www.sheepandwool.com or call 845-876-4000. For details on the Metro-North travel package, visit http://www.mta.info/mnr and click on “Deals & Getaways” on the right side of the page.

Long Island’s largest street/waterfront fair, the Oyster Festival in Oyster Bay, is coming up October 19 & 20. It has an abundance of oysters and seafood, the oyster eating contests are legendary, and there are 23 food vendors available to satisfy any craving. Visit the 150 arts and crafts booths, enjoy the musical performances, and explore the tall ships and other waterfront exhibits. The LIRR makes it easy to get to the festival with a package that includes discounted round-trip rail to/from Oyster Bay Station, vouchers for three free oysters on the half-shell for the adults and free admission to the Slide for the children. Shuttle buses will also be available from the Syosset Station, making the event accessible from the east on the Port Jefferson Branch.

Port Jefferson on Long Island is a picturesque, harbor front community where you can enjoy fine or casual dining and unique shops with discounted LIRR fare. The 3rd Annual Harvest Festival is coming up this October 27! It will include a scarecrow walk on East Main Street, a chowder tasting contest, pumpkin decorating, crafts, wood carvers, pet parade at 2:00pm and more. The LIRR package includes discounted round-trip rail to/from Port Jefferson Station, two Lindy’s Taxi stubs and a LIRR Port Jeff Deals Coupon, good for offers at participating merchants.

Metro-North and Dutchess County have teamed up to create some special weekends to celebrate the harvest, local wineries, cheese makers and apple picking. Pick up the Dutchess County Farm Fresh Link shuttle at the Poughkeepsie Station making stops at Fishkill Farms, for a pick-your- own experience, hayrides and farm market where you’ll find organically grown heirloom vegetables, fresh eggs, pressed cider and more. Then it’s on to the charming Village of Millbrook, home to many eateries, gift shops and antique stores. Your third stop is a local vineyard. Then, it’s on to Sprout Creek Farm, a model of sustainable agriculture known for its artisanal cheeses. For more information about these itinerary stops and other agricultural and culinary destinations throughout Dutchess County, please visit http://www.dutchesstourism.com

Sometimes the most breath taking attractions and experiences are free! New York’s Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park is the world’s longest, elevated pedestrian bridge, stretching 1.28 miles, 212 feet above the Hudson River and just minutes from Metro-North’s Poughkeepsie Station. The panoramic views of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River from the Walkway are spectacular in any season. For more information, visit http://walkway.org or http://nysparks.com.

To get more travel ideas across the state, specific itineraries, area events and even a state-wide chart of the changing of the leaves visit, Fallgetaways.iloveny.com.

The beauty of fall in New York can be captured throughout the 11 vacation regions in the state.

Capital-Saratoga Region
In the Capital-Saratoga region, foliage spotters in the Fulton County communities of Northville and Benson predict peak to just past peak conditions with 90-100 percent color change by the weekend, and average to bright red, orange and yellow fall colors, especially in the lower elevations. Color change is everywhere in Rensselaer County. There is more color in the eastern and northern portions of the county, along with more leaf droppage. Predominate colors include bright shades of red, orange and yellow. Saratoga County will be at peak this weekend with 80 percent color change, with bright bursts of red, deep orange and bright yellow creating a vibrant rainbow of fall colors. Leaf spotters in Schenectady County expect near peak to peak conditions with plenty of bright yellow and red leaves. In Albany County, spotters at Thacher Park in the Helderbergs expect leaves to be at peak with bright red and yellow leaves predominating.

Central New York
In Central New York, foliage spotters in southern Herkimer County are calling for near complete leaf transition by the weekend with peak to past peak conditions and predominating colors of red, yellow and gold. Oneida County observers are also expecting peak conditions (along with some past peak areas in the northern part of the county), with orange, amber, gold and bronze leaves of average brilliance and vibrant yellow and red highlights. In Chenango County, most leaves will be changed by the weekend. Look for plenty of bright yellow, brilliant red and fiery orange leaves. Otsego County will also be at peak this weekend, with some areas a bit past peak, rain and wind having moved the season along. Peak foliage will be arriving in the Greater Binghamton area this weekend with 70-75 percent color change and bright yellow, orange and red fall shades. In Madison County, foliage spotters based in Morrisville are calling for near peak foliage with 65 percent color change and a nice display of bright yellow and orange leaves, along with touches of red.

Chautauqua-Allegheny Region
Foliage in the Chautauqua-Allegheny region will range from near peak to just past peak this weekend. At Allegany State Park in Cattaraugus County about 90 percent of the leaves will be changed by the weekend. Look for areas of near peak, peak and past peak foliage. Many of the leaves that changed last week have fallen already from this week’s rain, leaving hardier green leaves on the trees. Few of these leaves are changing. In Cattaraugus County, Little Valley foliage spotters are calling for 85 percent color change with muted shades of yellow, rust and orange. Strong winds have knocked the majority of leaves down. In Chautauqua County, foliage spotters are expecting near peak foliage this weekend with 50 percent color change and a mixture of muted orange and red leaves.

Finger Lakes Region
In the Finger Lakes region, Tioga County will have peak foliage this weekend with 80 percent color change and yellow, orange and green leaves of average brilliance. Cortland and Livingston counties also will be at peak this weekend. Chemung County foliage spotters in Elmira expect near peak foliage with 85 percent color change and vibrant orange, red and yellow leaves. Seneca County will also be near peak with 75 percent color change and bright shades of yellow, red, purple and orange. Near peak foliage will also be found in Cayuga County, which is expecting 75 percent color change and brilliant yellow, orange, gold and red leaves. Leaf peepers in Syracuse, in Onondaga County, expect 50-60 percent color transition by the weekend, but with many leaves knocked down by wind they are calling for peak conditions. Tompkins County spotters based in Ithaca expect midpoint of change by the weekend with 50 percent color transition and yellow, brown, red, orange and green leaves of average brilliance.

Wayne County expects 45-50 percent color change with yellow, orange and red leaves of average brilliance. In Ontario County, look for 50 percent color change and a nice painter’s pallet of golden and burgundy hues. Monroe County and the Greater Rochester area predict near peak conditions for the weekend with between 40-50 percent color change and predominating colors of yellow and red. Steuben County will be near peak with 50-60 percent color change with bright yellow leaves accompanied by bursts of orange and bright scarlet.

Thousand-Islands Seaway Region
In the Thousand Islands-Seaway region, look for peak conditions this weekend in Jefferson County where foliage spotters in Alexandria Bay predict near complete leaf change and a nice mix of bright yellow, orange and red leaves. In St. Lawrence County expect 90 percent color change by the weekend with just past peak conditions and predominating colors of orange, red and yellow. In Oswego County, the lush forests of the lower portion of the region continue their annual transformation, and should be midpoint to near peak by the weekend.

Adirondacks Region
In the Adirondacks region, near peak and peak foliage is arriving in southern Warren County. Look for vibrant shades of yellow and orange, along with touches of red and rust. The rest of the county will be past peak by weekend. In Essex County, Crown Point foliage spotters expect that conditions will range from midpoint to near peak, depending on the elevation. In Old Forge, conditions are now past peak with some bright yellow, gold and russet leaves remaining. Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington and Lake Placid will each be just past peak.

Catskills Region
In the Catskills region, Sullivan County will be at peak this weekend with near complete leaf change and stunning shades of orange and red, along with golden yellow. Look for peak foliage in Ulster County, where rain and wind have taken a toll. This weekend will probably the last chance of the season to experience the county’s best color. Bright orange, gold, red and yellow leaves abound according to spotters at Belleayre Mountain and in Saugerties. The towns of Highmount, Pine Hill, Phoenicia and Mount Tremper will see peak foliage conditions with many shades of red, orange and gold.

Foliage spotters in the Greene County town of Catskill expect to be just past peak by the weekend with predominating shades of brilliant red, yellow and orange. Spotters based in Lanesville expect peak to just past peak foliage with leaves of amber, yellow, gold, purple and red. Tannersville and Hunter are now reported to be past peak. Delaware County will be past peak.

Hudson Valley Region
Near peak to peak foliage is expected throughout much of the Hudson Valley this weekend. In Ulster County, spotters based in Highland expect 80 percent leaf change by the weekend with bright, beautiful leaves of crimson and yellow. In the Shawangunk Mountain towns of High Falls, New Paltz and Gardiner the full autumnal palette is brilliant with bright gold, vibrant orange, shimmery yellow and blazing red leaves predominating. Columbia County will be near peak to peak with 70-95 percent color change and yellow and orange leaves mixed in with some deep red. Rockland County spotters at Bear Mountain State Park expect midpoint to near peak foliage this weekend with 75 percent color change, and orange and yellow leaves, along with some red highlights. In Goshen, foliage will be near peak with 75 percent change and bright red, yellow, wine, copper, lemon, peach, gold and orange leaves. Dutchess County projects various amounts of color change, depending upon location. Areas along the Hudson River will be at midpoint of change, while other areas will be near peak.

Greater Niagara Region
In the Greater Niagara region, foliage spotters in Buffalo project 40-45 percent color change as more shades of orange are starting to emerge. Some areas closer to Buffalo are still seeing some green and shades of gold and yellow. In Niagara County, Niagara Falls observers expect 50 percent color change with shades of red and orange predominating. Wyoming County will also be at midpoint of change.

Long Island and New York City
On Long Island, observers in the Hamptons are calling for 50 percent leaf change with autumn shades of red, orange and gold. In Nassau and western Suffolk counties, look for around 40 percent color change and yellow, orange, purple and green leaves of average brilliance. Some isolated areas of trees are reported to be near peak. Trees are just starting to change in New York City. Foliage spotters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens expect 20 percent leaf change with orange and yellow highlights appearing over the predominately green backdrop.

For More Information on Fall Foliage
The weekly foliage report, a detailed map charting fall color progress, vantage points for viewing spectacular foliage, suggested autumn getaways and weekly event listings are available by visiting the I LOVE NEW YORK web site at www.iloveny.com.

Reports are also available by dialing, toll-free, 800/CALL-NYS (800/225-5697) from anywhere in the U.S., its territories and Canada.

For additional New York fall foliage information including select sneak previews of the week’s I LOVE NEW YORK Fall Foliage Report, follow the hash tag: #LoveNYFall on Twitter. Simply type #LoveNYFall into the search box on Twitter and you can access all of the tweets about New York State’s fall colors and where to find the best places in the state to see them.

For information on becoming a volunteer Leaf Peeper, e-mail your name, address and phone number to foliage@esd.ny.gov.

See also:

A gal getaway hiking New York’s Hudson River School Art Trail and slideshow

Getaway on the Hudson River School Art Trail: Thomas Cole National Historic Site and slideshow

Getaway on The Hudson River School Art Trail: Frederick Edwin Church’s Olana and slideshow

The Thompson House is in best tradition of New York’s Catskill Mountains resorts and slideshow

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