24 places to enjoy fall foliage in southeastern Massachusetts

Fall is upon us in southeastern Massachusetts. There’s a chill in the air, and as we dig our sweaters out of storage and look for pumpkins to decorate the front porch, we also have our eyes peeled for the changing leaves that mark this season. If you’re looking for places around Buzzards Bay to amble through the autumnal forests, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of 24 beautiful places to get outside and enjoy the colors of the season.

As you walk through the woods, keep an eye out for trees known for their vibrant foliage. Red maple leaves often turn their eponymous scarlet early in the season; sugar maples are also noted for their red foliage. Beech and birch trees both exhibit cheerful yellow leaves, while the mitten-shaped leaves of sassafras turn a whole slew of colors, including yellow, red, and purple.

Westport & Dartmouth

farm among fall foliage at Cornell Farm in Dartmouth

The trails at Cornell Farm in Dartmouth look out over fields, farms, and forests that are brightly colored in autumn.

  1. Copicut Woods – Copicut Woods, part of the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve, offers the opportunity to explore by foot or mountain bike a variety of forest types, from hardwood and oak-conifer forests to a cedar swamp. Each paints a unique picture of fall, making Copicut Woods a peaceful place to explore them all.
  2. Cornell Farm and Frank Knowles/Little River Reserve – Hikers can travel through a red maple swamp along a boardwalk trail connecting the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust’s (DNRT) Frank Knowles/Little River Reserve to The Trustees of Reservations’ Cornell Farm. A suspension bridge between the two properties offers visitors a birds-eye view of the trees as they turn crimson.
  3. Destruction Brook Woods – DNRT’s 280-acre Destruction Brook Woods contains a variety of forest types along a maze of walking trails. Look out for stands of American beech, whose leaves turn vibrant yellow in October.
  4. Forge Pond Conservation Area – With just a short walk, the Westport Land Conservation Trust’s Forge Pond Conservation Area provides an overlook where you can see colorful fall foliage reflected across the pond’s still surface. Visitors can also explore the forest further on a longer walk along the Noquochoke River.
  5. Herb Hadfield Conservation Area – Another Westport Land Conservation Trust conservation area, Herb Hadfield boasts red maple, sassafras, and beech. Together, these trees provide a full range of fall colors to enjoy.

New Bedford, Acushnet & Fairhaven

fallen tree on Acushnet River in autumn

Enjoy fall foliage on the peaceful Acushnet River at LaPalme Farm.

  1. Flora B. Peirce Nature Trail – New Bedford’s Flora B. Peirce Nature Trail travels through red maple-dominated swamp forests. Where else can you experience such vibrant views of red foliage right within the city limits?
  2. New Bedford Reservoir – A visit to Lake Street in autumn promises beautiful views of fall foliage reflected against the water in every direction. It’s an ideal backdrop for fishing, which is a popular activity at this well-loved Acushnet spot.
  3. LaPalme Farm – The trail at the Coalition’s LaPalme Farm loops through fields and forests before arriving at the Acushnet River. There are several clearings along the trail, which provide ample opportunities to view golden trees and ferns. In early fall, goldenrod growing wild in the fields add pops of bright yellow to the landscape.
  4. West Island State Reservation – This 338-acre state reservation in Fairhaven has it all, from hardwood forests to salt marshes and sandy shoreline. Wide trails lead through the forest, where you can expect to see leaves in all shades of orange, gold, and red. Take the trail all the way to the beach to enjoy deep blue autumn skies over Buzzards Bay.

Mattapoisett, Marion & Rochester

young girl walking down a trail through the woods

Take a family hike on the scenic trails of Nasketucket Bay State Reservation in the fall.

  1. The Bogs/Tripps Mill – If you like your views of foliage with a side of cranberries, then The Bogs at the Mattapoisett River Reserve is for you! Forests may be known for their foliage, but bogs are also painted with autumn colors as the season progresses. Beyond the bogs, venture through the forest to Tripps Mill to enjoy the view of foliage reflected on Tinkham Pond.
  2. Church’s Field – This 32-acre Rochester Land Trust property along the Mattapoisett River is home to a pile of glacial erratics: rocks of different sizes and types than the rest of the surroundings, which may have been an Indian landmark. It’s a unique addition to the landscape you can view on your way to the river’s edge.
  3. East Over Reservation – Shades of gold color the Trustees’ East Over Reservation in Rochester. With trails through forests and fields, this reservation is the perfect destination for anyone who wants to enjoy classic New England autumn scenery, right down to the stone walls and pond views.
  4. Gallison Woods – This Sippican Lands Trust property in Marion gives visitors the opportunity to explore a forest along the upper reaches of the Sippican River. The river here is peaceful and surrounded by trees, making it a good place to focus on foliage.
  5. Nasketucket Bay State Reservation – Take an afternoon walk to Nasketucket Bay State Reservation from Shaw Farm Trail on the bike path. As you hike to the shoreline, enjoy the colors of fall in the passing farm fields and forests. On a clear day, you’ll enjoy a sweeping view of foliage across Nasketucket Bay from the beach at the end of the trail. 
  6. Stephen C. L. Delano Memorial Forest – Visitors to the Wildlands Trust’s Delano Memorial Forest in Rochester can find bright colors in red maple swamps, and see the changing colors in pine forests interspersed with beech and oak.

Wareham, Carver & Plymouth

pond at Myles Standish State Forest in fall

In autumn, the changing leave reflect on the blue waters of Myles Standish State Forest’s dozens of quiet kettle ponds.

  1. William Minot Forest and Bryant Farm – After school hours and on weekends, William Minot Forest offers a maze of walking paths through classic forest scenery, with lots of colorful foliage to enjoy. Across Minot Avenue, venture to Bryant Farm, where there are forest paths interspersed with wetlands.
  2. Douglas S. Westgate Conservation Area – Westgate Conservation Area in West Wareham is a natural playground that’s perfect to visit in fall! Venturing along the trail, you’ll quickly find yourself among acres of old cranberry bogs that now act as habitat for birds, turtles, and more. Beyond the bogs, enjoy the river walk, which runs through the woods along the banks of the beautiful Weweantic River.
  3. Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary – Trees are usually the focus of the fall season. But at this Mass Audubon sanctuary, you can discover autumn life that lives below the trees, like colorful mushrooms growing on the ground.
  4. Myles Standish State Forest – Autumn is a great time to explore the vast Myles Standish State Forest in Carver, with its unique blend of pine barrens, kettle ponds, kettle ponds, and hardwood forests. This preserve is one of southeastern Massachusetts’ largest, which means that there’s plenty of woods for foliage watchers to explore.

Bourne & Falmouth

a woman hiking past a large boulder at Beebe Woods in Falmouth

Hike past large boulders on the trails at Beebe Woods, remnants of Cape Cod’s glacial past.

  1. Beebe Woods – Through the changing leaves at this Falmouth town forest, you’ll catch glimpses of large boulders dropped by glaciers during the last Ice Age. You can also enjoy the view of colorful foliage around the peaceful waters of the Punch Bowl and explore the remains of nearby Peterson Farm.
  2. Bourne Farm – For even more fall festivity, visit the pumpkin field at Bourne Farm in Falmouth. The farm’s expansive fields offer clear views of the foliage, which makes this Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries property popular with locals who want to enjoy the season.
  3. Bourne Sisters Woodland – This Bourne Conservation Trust woodland has some hilly spots, but is still an easy walk for most hikers who want to get out and enjoy the season. The trail loops around a cranberry bog, offering a view of a diversity of foliage and landscapes.
  4. Long Pong/Falmouth Town Forest – Long Pond is what’s known as a kettle pond: a shallow hole created by retreating glaciers. Fall is the perfect time to take a walk along the pond’s sloping sides and see the foliage reflected in the water. You can reach also Long Pond from the trails at popular Goodwill Park.
  5. Red Brook Pond Conservation Area – With pitch pine woods and vibrantly colored undergrowth, the Bourne Conservation Trust’s Red Brook Pond Conservation Area offers the perfect mix for fall visitors. Enjoy views of Red Brook Pond as well as working cranberry bogs.
Category: Featured Adventures

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