FALL IS HERE: THE LEAF PEEPING SEASON
Leaf-peeping can be an indolently American experience: some visitors simply drive out to the countryside and view the spectacle from their cars, never getting out except to pick up another order of tripleburgers and fries.
The more adventurous, however, park their cars and go for a hike or get on their bikes. There are hundreds of walking trails in national and state parks, state forests and reservations. Bicycle touring is easy on the thousands of miles of back roads that wander through woodland, well-maintained villages and red-brick colonial towns.
The leaf-peeping season typically begins in the higher elevations and in the north of New England in mid-September before it moves south through October.
It reaches the coastal areas of the region at the end of October. The peak of the foliage season, when the colours are at their brightest and best, lasts a matter of days.
Depending on the region, and even the year, the timing of the peaks varies. Each state operates Autumn Foliage Hotlines to tell you when and where to go.
Some manic leaf-peepers are determined to see the peaks and, like twitchers chasing a rare bird, will drive from state to state in search of the perfect foliage display.
The rest of us probably don't need to be quite so enthusiastic: the colours are spectacular whenever you see them. There are many organised coach tours and some train tours. One company runs combined railway/coach tours that depart from Boston and take in all six New England states.
But probably the best way to enjoy the Fall Colors is to hire a car. New England has an excellent network of roads and is small enough to get about comfortably in a week. And because it is an historic region, there is much more to see than just leaves.
From hamlets with white clapboard churches on village greens to covered wooden bridges, New England is the most quintessentially 'American' region in the country.
It has picture-perfect villages such as Stockbridge, Massachusetts, whaling ports such as Mystic, Connecticut, and mill towns such as Lowell, also in Massachusetts.
The region's metropolis is Boston, the most civilised city in the country. During the 19th century it was called 'the Athens of America' because of its large population of literati, artists and educators.
With 60 colleges aand universities in the greater Boston area, the city offers a rich variety of cultural activities and a vibrant nightlife.
Most important, Boston is a compact city. Just 30 minutes from the city centre are fields, gardens, colonial towns and, of course, all those leaves.
Autumn colors and mountains of the Teton Range, photographed in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, on October 4, 2012. (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)
Alexander Kempt paddles past the Baroque Palace in a hollowed out pumpkin as he takes part in the German Pumpkin Boat Championship on September 16, 2012 in Ludwigsburg, Germany. The 40 participants of the competition may either use one of the pumpkin boats furnished by the organizers or are allowed to use a self-made boat constructed of a pumpkin weighing 200 kilograms or more. (Bernd Weissbrod/AFP/Getty Images) #
A girl throws leaves in the air at the estate of Mariendaal in Arnhem, Netherlands, on September 30, 2012. (Robin Utrecht/AFP/Getty Images) #
Autumn colored trees in Schoenau at the Koenigssee lake, near the southern German city of Berchtesgaden, on October 2, 2012. (Reuters/Michael Dalder) #
Pumpkins await shoppers in a field near Munich, Germany, on September 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #
Stars shine above the cabin used by shepherd Pierre Deval in Arvieux, France, on September 14, 2012. (Ed Jones/AFP/GettyImages) #
A hot-air balloon flies over the city of Godewaersvelde, northern France, as the sun rises, on September 30, 2012. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images) #
Visitors enjoy the evening inside the "Augustiner" beer tent at the famous Bavarian Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, Germany, on October 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #
Women wearing traditional Bavarian Dirndls pose with beer mugs during Oktoberfest in Munich, on September 27, 2012. Oktoberfest will run until October 7, 2012. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images) #
Colored leaves hang from a cherry tree in Kassel, Germany, on October 2, 2012. (Uwe Zucchi/AFP/Getty Images) #
Fall foliage begins to appear in the White Mountain National Forest, on September 28, 2012 in Jefferson, New Hampshire. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) #
Women squash grapes with their feet in traditional style during autumn harvest celebrations and young wine preparations in Aliman village, some 240 km east of Bucharest, on September 28, 2012. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti) #
More than 1,000 buffalo thunder across prairie land during the 47th annual Buffalo Roundup in western South Dakota's Custer State Park, on September 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Kristi Eaton) #
Autumn-colored oak leaves in the Elz River near Emmendingen, Germany. (AP Photo/Winfried Rothermel) #
People walk on a pavement covered with leaves at the place de la Concorde in Paris, on September 22, 2012. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images) #
Vegetable gardener Peter Glazebrook gets admiring glances as he wheels his giant cabbage weighing 81 lbs, 6 oz, through the annual Harrogate Autumn Flower Show on September 14, 2012 in Harrogate, England. Glazebrook, from Newark, won all six classes in the giant vegetable competition during the show at The Great Yorkshire Showground. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) #
Morning mist rises from the valley between the sandstone bridge Basteibruecke and the Lilienstein mountain near Rathen, Germany, on October 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Joern Haufe) #
A pair of unicyclists ride under fall leaves along a bike trail by Minnesota Drive in Anchorage, Alaska, on September 24, 2012. (AP/Dan Joling) #
A farmer parades his herd on his way to the Desalpe near Charmey, on September 29, 2012. The Desalpe is a traditional annual Swiss festival marking the descent of cattle herds from their summer Alpine pastures to valleys at the beginning of autumn. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images) #
Two men prepare to weigh an Atlantic Giant pumpkin (Curcurbita maxima) during the Bavarian pumpkin championship on September 29, 2012 in Schwabenhausen, Germany. The award comes with a cash prize of 600 euros. (Peter Kneffel/AFP/Getty Images) #
Canada geese rise in flight out of a bay on Big Rideau Lake in Portland, Ontario, on September 29, 2012. (Reuters/Gary Cameron) #
A fallen autumn leaf rests with raindrops on the hood of a car in London, England, on October 1, 2012 (Reuters/Luke MacGregor) #
A picture taken from the mountainous Srinagar-Leh highway shows newly snow-covered mountain peaks at Zojila, 108 km (67 miles) east of Srinagar, on October 4, 2012. A foundation stone laying ceremony for a tunnel on 443 km (275 miles) long highway connecting Kashmir with the Buddhist-dominated Ladakh region was held by the authorities in Sonamarg on Thursday. (Reuters/Fayaz Kabli) #
A cow grazes on a meadow near Maierhoefen, Germany, on a sunny and mild September 28, 2012. (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/AFP/Getty Images) #
A woman and girl pick up fallen leaves in a park in Minsk, Belarus, on October 4, 2012. (Victor Drachev/AFP/Getty Images) #
Leaves along the Androscoggin River are at peak color in Berlin, New Hampshire, on September 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) #
A red deer bellows during the annual rutting season in the Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig, Scotland, on October 5, 2012. (Reuters/Russell Cheyne) #
A couple ride their bicycles during an autumn day in Moscow's Izmaylovsky Park, in Russia, on September 27, 2012. An exhibition and entertainment complex imitating the architecture of old Russian churches and palaces stands in the background. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel) #
Autumn fog rises from trees after a cool night at lake Koenigssee, near Berchtesgaden, Germany, on October 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
They say there is nowhere quite like New England in the fall. But old England is giving the U.S. a run for its money this year, with the trees around the Lake District transformed by the changing season into a glorious tapestry of green, red, copper and gold.
Mother Nature's autumn show: Visitors to Studley Royal Water Garden, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, got a double delight as the spectacular golds, bronzes, purples and yellows of the leaves were mirrored in the lake
Spectacular: Sailing boats bob on Derwentwater surrounded by warm russet foliage
These spectacular pictures show how the leaves on the trees surrounding Derwentwater in the Lake District have deepened to warm russet hues, forming a stunning backdrop to the placid waters of the lake.
They show a picture-perfect autumn day for hikers and sailors in the area, and the Met Office has said temperatures could soar as high as 20C this week thanks to a wave of hot air from North Africa which is due to sweep through the UK from tomorrow.
'Season of mists': The shoreline around Derwentwater in the Lake District has been transformed into a glorious patchwork of autumnal colour
Autumnal scene: A walker captures the spectacular view across Derwentwater on camera
The always stunning scenery around the Lake District has been further enhanced with the onset of autumn
Peaceful: A boat chugs its way across the water of the lake towards the shoreline
Seasonal splendour: Derwentwater is surrounded on all sides by shades of green, russet, copper and gold
Conditions look pleasant for a sail across Derwentwater, as forecasters predict unseasonably warm weather ahead this week
Patchwork: The warm hues of the foliage form a spectacular backdrop to the boats sailing on the lake
Stunning hues: Homes in the village of Symonds Yat, near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, are surrounded by an explosion of autumn colour
Autumn in miniature: Red autumn leaves on a bonsai tree at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Ethereal: Early-morning mist over the Wye Valley in Herefordshire today gives the autumnal landscape an ethereal quality
Golden leaves: A young family stroll past the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial Red Maple in Kew Gardens as it drops its leaves, which have mellowed to gold
The fabulous shades of autumn are visible across Britain; here a child plays with the leaves of an Acer tree in Arley, Cheshire
Morning fog: A cyclist rides through the fog amid golden leaves in Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands
A jogger gets out and about in the early morning mist in Sutton Park in the West Midlands
Surrey's Kew Gardens are a riot of autumn colour
The lawns at Kew Gardens are carpeted with leaves of gold, russet and red this autumn. In Devon the arrival of autumn brought with it the traditional World Bolving championships, held on Exmoor over the weekend. Bolving is the deep-throated unique to red deer stags during the rutting season. The call is designed to frighten off other stags leaving the hinds - females - to the individual stag for mating. Contestants in the World Bolving championships have to roar - or bolve - across a large valley in the hope of getting a stag to bolve back, which scores points with the judges. Over one hundred and fifty nature lovers gathered at Draydon Rails to see the ninth annual contest in aid of the Devon Air Ambulance Trust. Previous winner, Richard Eales, who now organises the event, said the contest started life as a bet among locals in the Rock Inn pub over who could get a stag to call back. Last year's winner Elvis Afanasenko, who lives on the moor, retained his world champion title at the weekend. Bolving was traditionally used across Europe to hunt deer who were a problem to farmers, but difficult to locate. A good call attracted the stags and made them easier to find.
Quirky: The World Bolving Championships sees contestants trying to get a red deer stag to return a bolve, or mating call
Rutting season: Contestants practice their 'bolve', or mating call, ahead of the competition on Exmoor National Park
A contestant calls out to a red deer watched by an audience in Devon
Champion: Elvis Afanasenko warms up his vocal chords on picturesque Exmoor
Autumn is a season of frosty mornings, festivals, and of course, spectacular foliage. Around the north, people have begun to see their breath form misty clouds in the chilly morning air, leaves are reaching peak color, and animals are on the move. Collected here is a second group of images of this year's autumn from around the northern hemisphere.
A Red Deer stag roars in the early morning light in Richmond Park in London, England, on October 10, 2012. Autumn sees the start of the "Rutting" season where the large Red Deer stags can be heard roaring and barking in an attempt to attract females. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
A leaf from an Acer tree turns a warm autumnal red at The National Trust's Tatton Park in Knutsford, England, on October 17, 2012. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) #
Sam Bauer, 5, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, loads another pumpkin into his wagon during a harvest festival at the Country Apple Orchard in Harrisburg, South Dakota, on Saturday, October 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Amber Hunt) #
A man walks under trees near Lausanne, Switzerland, on October 22, 2012. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images) #
A half-changed leaf, near Bad Dürkheim, Germany, on October 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Torsten Silz) #
Changing autumn leaves, reflected in a pond in England's Sheffield Park Gardens, on October 17, 2012. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor) #
Raindrops gather on the autumn leaves of small bushes in North Vancouver, British Columbia, on October 12, 2012. After a record-breaking dry spell since August, a welcomed several days of rain moved in over the area. (Reuters/Andy Clark) #
Fog covers the Inntal valley as the famous Nordkette mountains are seen on a sunny autumn day in the western Austrian province of Tyrol, on October 23, 2012. (Reuters/Dominic Ebenbichler) #
Visitors view changing autumn leaves at the Westonbirt Arboretum in England, on October 18, 2012. (Reuters/Toby Melville) #
A Roe Deer runs over grassy dunes as the sun rises at Spurn Point on October 12, 2012 in Spurn Head, England. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) #
Autumn colours are on full display at Sheffield Park Garden on October 16, 2012 in Uckfield, England. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
Fall colors on a hillside above East Montpelier, Vermont, on Monday, October 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot) #
The Sun shines throuh a giant gennera manicata leaf at Sheffield Park Garden on October 16, 2012 in Uckfield, England. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) #
A Red Deer stag, with his head covered in ferns, calls in the Autumn sunshine in Richmond Park, southwest London, on October 14, 2012. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor) #
A girl stops to look at hundreds of jack o' lanterns at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, on October 8, 2012. Around 5,000 carved pumpkins are on display for this year's Jack-o'-lantern Spectacular, one of the nation's largest jack-o'-lantern shows. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) #
A jack o' lantern interpretation of Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night," commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. For at least three months each Fall, pumpkin carvers Marc Evan and Chris Soria, of New York City, relinquish their illustrator occupations to carve fantastical pumpkins full-time and become the Maniac Pumpkin Carvers. (AP Photo/Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, Marc Evan) #
Snow covers a field south of Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, on October 13, 2012. (Reuters/Ilya Naymushin) #
A white swan swims in a pond at the Summer Garden in central St. Petersburg, Russia, on October 19, 2012. The Summer Garden, once a favorite place of the Russian Tsars, is now a popular place to rest for locals and tourists. (Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk) #
Cows graze in front of the Rosengarten mountain massif (3,000 meters) in the Dolomites near Bozen, Autonomous Region of South Tyrol, northern Italy's German-Italian speaking region, on October 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #
A woman walks her dog on a misty morning on Hampstead Heath, London, on October 23, 2012. (AP Photo/David Azia) #
Fog nestles in valleys below, seen from the Schauinsland mountain in the black forest, Germany, on October 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Winfried Rothermel) #
Cranes, on the way to their winter rest places, near the village of Linum about 70 kilometers (44 miles) north of Berlin, Germany, on October 21, 2012. Thousands of migratory birds rest near the village before their trip to the south. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) #
A squirrel eats a wild pear in a park in seasonal colored trees on an autumn day in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, on October 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
Walkers near the zoo in Berlin, Germany, on October 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos) #
A swan lands on a lake on October 17, 2012 in Berlin. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images) #
A leaf falls from a tree in light breeze as foliage begins to change with the fall weather at Eagle Rock Reservation, on October 18, 2012, in Montclair, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) #
An operator drives a mechanical harvester in a cranberry marsh, on October 5, 2012, near Warrens, Wisconsin. Wisconsin is expected to harvest 4.5 million barrels of cranberries in 2012, producing more than 50 percent of the world's cranberry supply. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, Andy Manis) #
The reddening parts of a leaf surround its central veins, photographed near Bad Dürkheim, Germany, on October 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Torsten Silz) #
A tourist does a handstand under a yellowing tree in Hyde Park in London, England, on October 12, 2012. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
The days are getting shorter and the nights chillier as fall descends on the Northern Hemisphere. Autumn is the season of harvests, festivals, migrations, winter preparations, and of course, spectacular foliage. Across the north, leaves are reaching peak color, apples and pumpkins are being gathered, and animals are on the move. Collected here are more images from this year's autumn.
A visitor views the spectacular autumn colors in the Acer Glade at Westonbirt Arboretum near Tetbury, England, on October 17, 2013. Originally planted in the heyday of Victorian plant hunting in the mid-nineteenth century, the arboretum boasts one of the world's finest tree collections. (Reuters/Toby Melville) #
Neuschwanstein Castle stands among autumn colored trees on October 17, 2013 near Hohenschwangau, Germany. The 19th century Romanesque revival palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria. Construction started in 1869 and was almost finished in 1884. (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/AFP/Getty Images) #
Two girls play among autumn leaves in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 13, 2013. (Reuters/Jessica Gow/TT News Agency) #
Trees are reflected as a fisherman rows his boat during a sunny day on Sylvenstein barrier lake, in the German state of Bavaria, on October 22, 2013. (Reuters/Michael Dalder) #
French pilot and migratory bird protector Christian Moulec, accompanied by Lesser White-fronted Geese, performs an ultralight flight during the 40th Icare Cup paragliding festival in Saint Hilaire du Touvet, French Alps, on September 21, 2013.(AP Photo/Francois Mori) #
Fireworks explode near the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, during the celebration of the 80th vineyard's harvest Festival of Montmartre, on October 12, 2013 in Paris. (Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images) #
Wild Geese fly over a farm field in Xanten, Germany, on October 16, 2013. The wild geese flew in from Siberia to stay over the winter in the lower Rhine area with its warmer climate. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) #
Workers pick grapes during the harvest at the Chateau l'Etoile vineyard on October 8, 2013 in l'Etoile, France.(Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images) #
Fallen leaves lie on the ground in Munich, Germany, on October 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader) #
Pumpkin carver Hugh McMahon carves a pumpkin in the likeness of singer Lady Gaga, at Madame Tussauds, in New York, on October 22, 2013. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri) #
Anna Dixon from Glastonbury poses for photographers in the Wookey Hole Caves after being chosen to work as the resident witch following an audition session at the tourist attraction in Wookey Hole, Somerset, England, on October 22, 2013. Around 50 applicants auditioned for the position Tuesday, each given one minute to perform in front of a panel of judges. The requirements for the job included: Must be able to cackle, must be able to work weekends and school holidays and must not be allergic to cats.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham) #
Everest, a nearly 4-month-old snow leopard cub at the Brookfield Zoo received an early Halloween treat during the zoo's annual Cat Awareness Weekend in Brookfield, Illinois, on October 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Chicago Zoological Society, Jim Schulz) #
Tourists visit the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China in late autumn, near Beijing, on October 19, 2013.(Reuters/Stringer) #
A lone boater skims across the surface of the Potomac River at sunset in Washington, D.C., on October 8, 2013.(AP Photo/J. David Ake) #
Autumn Watson carries a pumpkins through the patch at Councell Farms in Cordova, Maryland, on October 19, 2013.(Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images) #
A woman holds a candle next to a rack of carved pumpkins on display at the Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival in Highwood, Illinois, on October 18, 2013. Organizers are trying to set the Guinness Book of World Records for the most lit jack-o'-lanterns on display.(Reuters/Jim Young) #
A performer in "The Walking Dead" haunted house, during the "Halloween Horror Party 2013" at the Movie Park Germany in the western city of Bottrop, on October 18, 2013. (Reuters/Ina Fassbender) #
A guest reacts in fear to an actor at the "13th Floor" haunted house in Denver, Colorado, on October 19, 2013. America's Haunts, a trade association, estimates there are 1,200 large-scale, for-profit haunted attractions in the U.S. plus another 3,000 haunted houses operated by charities that open for only a day or two every year. The commercial attractions collectively bring in from $300 million to $500 million annually. (Reuters/Rick Wilking) #
A girl is seen through one of the thousands of carved pumpkins on display at the Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival in Highwood, Illinois, on October 18, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Young) #
A man cycles past The Great Walk in Windsor Park, with Queen Elizabeth's residence, Windsor Castle, seen behind in Windsor, England, on October 14, 2013. (Reuters/Toby Melville) #
A ladybug crawls over an autumn colored leaf on October 12, 2013 in Irsee, Germany.(Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/AFP/Getty Images) #
The Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), second right, and trees, reflected in a puddle in Dresden, Germany, on October 10, 2013.(AP Photo/dpa, Sebastian Kahnert) #
Roger Larsen harvests corn in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, on October 10, 2013. Farmers in many corn growing states are surprised at the amount of corn coming in from the fields and record harvests are likely in eastern states including Ohio and Indiana and in Georgia and Alabama in the south. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik) #
The Presidential Range, as leaves begin to change color in the White Mountain National Forest in this photo taken from Hart's Location, New Hampshire, on October 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) #
Bosnian people walk in a park in northern Bosnian town of Tuzla, on October 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Amel Emric) #
People watch the sunset from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., as a full moon rises in the background, on October 18, 2013. (AP Photo/J. David Ake) #
Two divers sculpt jack-o-lanterns during the Underwater Pumpkin Carving contest in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo, Florida, on October 19, 2013. About 30 contestants competed in the offbeat event organized by the Amoray Dive Resort.(AP Photo/Florida Keys News Bureau, Bob Care) #
The Wallhalla memorial, seen above the river Danube in Donaustauf, Germany, on October 19, 2013. The Wallhalla is a hall of fame that honors famous German personalities. (AP Photo/dpa, Armin Weigel) #
Snow covered pumpkins on display in Waidring, in the Austrian province of Tyrol, on October 11, 2013.(AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson) #
A swimmer wades into Walden Pond on a fall afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts, on October 15, 2013.(Reuters/Brian Snyder) #
Flowers, covered with snow in Seehausen at lake Staffelsee near Murnau, on October 11, 2013 after an early snowfall in southern Germany. (Reuters/Michaela Rehle) #
A woman plays with leaves in a park in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, on October 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) #
A flock of Common Cranes fly towards their night roost near the village of Linum, Germany, on October 19, 2013. The area north of Berlin has become the biggest staging point for migrating cranes in central Europe where up to 80,000 cranes roost for several weeks on their way from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe or Russia to their wintering grounds in Western Spain. (Reuters/Thomas Krumenacker)