Top 5 Fall Foliage Picks in New England, Paddling a North Woods River in Maine

It’s supposed to reach 90 degrees today in Boston, but my mind is already thinking ahead to fall foliage. The dry hot summer will lead to an earlier than usual foliage. Though we did get much needed rain in New England this past week, so trees that were wilting should be happier. This week, I’m delving into my favorite activities during the height of fall foliage.

12 years ago, I was hired to write a story about paddling the Allagash River for Men’s Journal magazine. It was late September, when the leaves on trees were yellow, orange, and crimson and the normally taciturn moose was in heat and was as talkative as Bullwinkle. There were no mosquitoes, no black flies, no humans, except our little group who paddled over 5 days up the narrow river corridor. Last year, I was fortunate to return to Maine’s North Woods in autumn, this time on assignment for Sierra magazine. I was in the capable hands of registered Maine guide, Kevin Slater, who with his wife, Polly, run Mahoosuc Guide Service. We spotted moose, bear, a barred owl, and once again we had the river, this time the West Branch of the Penobscot, to ourselves. There’s something about being on a lengthy Maine river in autumn, when the crowds are gone, and you have this serene scene of water, the pine-studded campgrounds, and mountains hovering in the background. It seeps into your skin and I yearn to be back there each fall.