Sorry for the late notice, but as you can see from this Foliage Guide, the leaves are at peak literally next door just a little inland. So those with opportunity, GET OUT THERE! Those who hesitate will lose out until next year!
There is nothing finer than to trek into the woods with the fall sun, the light between the trees and a fresh bed of fallen leaves. All the evergreens have shed at once their needles, muffling your steps and allowing you to approach largely unheeded the forest creatures. The Greater Newburyport Area is blessed with a surprisingly large number of hiking trails on both sides of the Merrimack River and into the surrounding countryside.
You can get a sampling of these trails by checking this list that indicates the ones closest to Newburyport. There are new trails being added every year so keep an eye on this expanding roster.
For those sadly with not the time to do off-road adventures, there are always some spectacular drives that aren’t excessively long that will hold in your memory all the way through the winter months.
Here are three possible routes:
Route 1A Foliage Tour, Newburyport to Ipswich, 20 minute Drive
Start at Atkinson Common and drive along the full length of Newburyport’s High Street, Newbury’s High Road and through Rowley down to the center of Ipswich. The historic trees of the city coupled with the mansions along the route will feed into the countryside, Great Marsh views and small country-town sites. Great places to stop are the Little Farm run by Historic New England, Tendercrop Farm & Iron Moon Farm in Newbury. To celebrate the drive, be sure to stop at Marty’s donut shop in downtown Ipswich for super doughnuts. Marty’s closes by 1:00 so drive in the morning. It is worth it!
Route 113 Foliage Tour, 20 minute drive
Newburyport to Groveland. Start at the junction of Interstate 95 and Route 113 in Newburyport heading west. West Newbury’s main road is the quintessential New England road – stone walls, farmed fields, pleasant old homesteads and rolling hills dominate the view. Along the way are farm stands, garden shops and Long Hill Farm’s ice cream stand as well as historic sites. The route ends up at the bridge in downtown Groveland. A special treat if you would like some walking is to take Hoyt’s Lane while still in Newburyport and travel down to Maudslay State Park where there are lovely walks along the river and strolls amongst formal gardens.
And the most magnificent of all, Main Street (Amesbury), Merrimac Street, Pleasant Valley & River Road Foliage Tour, 20 minute drive.
Amesbury to Haverhill. Start at the Amesbury side of the Hines bridge. Follow westward along the water. This is one of the best river foliage views in the region. The road hugs the shoreline of the Merrimack River, presenting fabulous water and foliage views. Simply follow any road that takes you closest to the river. There is one short detour. You are forced onto Skunk Road in Merrimac at a point where River Road washed out a few years ago. Take Skunk to Middle, turn left and you’re back on the route. You can walk this closed section of the road if you park your car on either end.* The road continues to Rocks Village in Haverhill near the bridge. You can cross into West Newbury (There is a traffic backup as the bridge is now one lane and you may have to wait until oncoming traffic makes it over) and head back for more foliage views along the river or take the road north until you connect with Route 110. Notable stops are the Lowell Boat Shop, Bartlett Museum and strolling around Rocks Village local historic district or work your way up to the Whittier House. A small detour near the former hat factory can be made up to Hodgie’s Ice Cream up on Route 110.
According to the experts, we should see peak foliage in our area starting this coming weekend and stretching to Veterans Day, November 11th. You can check the fall foliage hotline if you wish to drive to other areas: 800-227-MASS.
HAPPY FOLIAGE HUNTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
* Merrimac has recently considered closing this section due to liability issues.