The Ultimate Fall Foliage Drive from Portland, Maine

Jake Christie
18 min readSep 9, 2021

“Peak foliage” is an elusive target here in New England. You can track previous years, watch the swinging temperatures and doggedly follow the state’s own Maine Fall Foliage Conditions website, but the moment the leaves hit their wildest, Fruity-Pebbles-iest crescendo can come and go in a single weekend.

When things hit their peak, there’s no place I’d rather be than the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Just a bit more than an hour from Portland, the Whites are a fall cornucopia (sorry, not sorry) of trees and rocks, cliffs and valleys, rivers and fields — all awash in magnificent colors under the clear fall sky.

The ultimate 6-hour, 250+ mile fall foliage drive.

In my many, many trips to the Whites to hike the AMC’s 48 4000-footers, I threaded the forest’s many notches, traversed the back roads, and wound my way back and forth around the mountain ranges and protected wildernesses. Over the last decade, I’ve figured out how to stitch these many driving routes into a single, continuous foliage drive that I take close to peak foliage every year.

This six hour drive leaves from Portland, switchbacks along some of the most scenic roads in the mountains, and returns back home without a…