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Fall Foliage in CNY: Leaf Peeping Close to Home

There is plenty to see and do right here in Central New York

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant 

While many people laud the New England states for their fall foliage color, Central New York boasts numerous tours, trips and drives that offer plenty of leaf peeping opportunities—along with the homegrown attractions that make this region unique.

Consider taking a wine trail tour to experience both gorgeous color and the best vino the region offers without getting behind the wheel. Quality Transportation Services (https://qualitytran.com) in Geneva books local wine trail tours in luxury vehicles. In addition to enjoying the ride from site to site, the wineries’ tasting rooms and outdoor spaces provide with picturesque vistas.

Train rides with the Adirondack Railroad Union Station in Utica (www.adirondackrr.com) also offer a way to experience the foliage without driving. Bring along the grandchildren to enjoy the Family Halloween Train and enjoy the beauty of Adirondack Park. Or grab your friends to come along on the adults-only Beer and Wine Train rides.

Gore Mountain (https://goremountain.com/todo/scenic-skyrides) in North Creek offers Sky Rides, a bird’s-eye view of autumn color on the chair lifts. Sit back and enjoy the ride, along with panoramic sites of the mountains.

Who says leaf peeping has to be dull? Soar above the trees at Zipline New York (www.ziplinenewyork.com) in Hunter, the longest and highest zipline in North America and second largest in the world with speeds of 50 mph. Take along older grandkids who think leaf peeping is “too boring.”

View autumn foliage through a Camillus Erie Canal Park (www.eriecanalcamillus.com/boat.htm) boat tour on the Erie Canal, departing from Camillus. The four available boats include a replica historic boat, canal packet boat, and pontoon boats. The 45-minute tour includes music and narration. The dessert cruise and dinner cruise have been canceled for 2021 because of COVID-19.

The 518-mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway starts in the north with views of Alexandria Bay down to the state border. Or drive the Amish Trail that spans Cattaraugus to Cherry Creek on Route 353.

Close to home, visit Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, which features numerous mature maple, oak and hickory trees; Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville, with its 15 miles of 10 hiking trails; Chittenango Falls State Park in Chittenango with its 167-foot waterfall and gorge trail; Highland Forest in Fabius, with 20 miles of trails; and Clark Reservation State Park in Jamesville, which boasts more than 12 trails on its 365 acres.

Consider packing a picnic lunch and making a day of your leaf peeping adventure. Or plan to visit any of the many locally owned eateries along the way. Bring along cash to patronize a farm stand or farm market and an insulated tote to bring home chilled foods. Visit the small shops that sell items you cannot find anywhere else. Or stop to explore a museum.

For any of the guided/hosted tours, reservations are recommended. Ask about any COVID-19 requirements or precautions.

More Places to Visit

Visit www.iloveny.com/things-to-do/fall/foliage-report to track the state’s leaf color progress wherever you roam this fall.

Photo: Chittenango Falls State Park in Chittenango features a 167-foot waterfall and gorge trail.