41 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 enjoy the best of fall’s colors, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a list of 41 beautiful places to get outside and enjoy this vibrant season.

As you walk through the woods, keep an eye out for trees known for their fall foliage. Early in the season, red maple leaves often turn the scarlet color that gives them their name. Sugar maples are also known for their red foliage. Beech and birch trees both burst into cheerful yellow leaves, while the mitten-shaped leaves of sassafras turn a whole slew of colors, including yellow, red, and purple.

Little Compton, 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. Wilbour Woods – Wilbour Woods in Little Compton offers a perfect place for a woodland fall picnic. Bring along something to grill up and enjoy at the tables and grills along the calm waters of Dundery Brook, which reflects the full array of fall colors. Dark holly trees in the woods provide a splash of dark green that contrast with the colorful oaks.
  2. P.T. Marvell Preserve – Enjoy a feast for the senses at P.T. Marvell Preserve, a coastal meadow along the southern shoreline of Little Compton. In the field, goldenrod and wild grape bloom and send out their smells in early fall, while red, orange, and yellow leaves emerge in the surrounding woods the as the days grow cooler.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Westport Woods Conservation Park – Bird-filled grasslands around Westport Woods turn pale yellow and orange in fall, and offer a great place to spot migrating birds as they head south for the winter. The colorful woods of this former summer camp are a great place to look for autumnal pools, temporary pools of water that form from fall rains (much like spring vernal pools!) and are provide great place to look for salamanders.
  6. Brookside Conservation Area – Need a short walk that packs in a lot of fall beauty? Walk Brookside’s quarter-mile trail along charming Bread and Cheese Brook, where waters tumble over rocks and under an antique granite bridge.  Changing fall leaves above the waters provide a colorful canopy and drift down the surface of the brook in a colorful parade.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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, a popular activity at this well-loved Acushnet spot.
  3. The Sawmill – No fall season is complete without a trip to The Sawmill! Year after year, trees along the Acushnet River and in the red maple swamp consistently offer up some of the most colorful views around.
  4. 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, wild goldenrod in the fields adds pops of bright yellow to the landscape.
  5. Hamlin Crossing – This former orchard along the Acushnet River now offers open meadow beneath the canopy of a massive oak tree, which shades yellow and orange in the fall. In the woods, you might be lucky enough to spot deer or foxes making their quiet way through the trees.
  6. 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.
  7. Winsegansett Marshes – Trees are not the only plants that change color in the fall: salt marshes undergo a similarly stunning transformation. With a scenic trail through the woods and marsh leading to a sandy beach, Winsegansett Marshes offer a perfect place to take in this colorful change.
  8. Carvalho Farm – At this stunning little Fairhaven property, you’ll walk from a restored meadow into a sun-dappled forest that seems straight out of a fairy tale. Fall leaves reflect in a gently flowing stream and abundant ferns turn fiery red and orange for the season. At the end of the trail, enjoy salt marsh views and enjoy a fall picnic atop the massive boulder known as “Indian Rock” – don’t forget the apple cider!

Mattapoisett, Marion & Rochester

bird box next to a cranberry bog in autumn at White Eagle in Marion

Explore a wealth of protected freshwater wetlands, including a large active cranberry bog, at the White Eagle Parcel of Aucoot Woods in Marion.

  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. Aucoot Woods: White Eagle and Radio TowerTake in the stunning combination of vivid red cranberry bogs with bright fall trees at Aucoot Woods’ White Eagle parcel in Marion. Three miles of trail loop around the bogs, which are still harvested each fall, and offer stunning, wide-open views. Continue the walk and keep the fall views coming by heading north into the Radio Tower parcel, where quiet woods offer miles of fall color.
  6. Nasketucket Bay State Reservation – Take an afternoon walk to Mattapoisett’s Nasketucket Bay State Reservation from Shaw Farm Trail. 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 trail’s end.
  7. Old Aucoot District – Four miles of trail wind through this rich Mattapoisett Land Trust preserve, where you can experience how fall works its magic on a diverse array of meadows, woods,  and wetlands. We especially recommend taking time to enjoy the beauty of Grace Preserve, where late-summer and early fall wildflowers fill the fields and colorful woods are visible all around you.
  8. 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.
  9. Haskell Swamp Wildlife Management Area – Untamed woodlands await adventurous explorers in this broad wildlife management area, which spans the borders of Rochester, Marion and Mattapoisett. Because this area was previously managed for timber harvesting, its woodlands contain many tall, mature trees, which offer the full display of fall color. Just be sure to check state hunting schedules and follow our hunting season safety tips, as this spot is a popular place to harvest deer and wild turkey in the fall.

Lakeville & Middleborough

view of Assawompset Pond from Betty's Neck in Lakeville

Take in a spectacular view of Assawompset Pond from Betty’s Neck in Lakeville.

  1. Betty’s Neck – Located in the middle of thousands of acres of protected land, Betty’s Neck features deep, beautiful forest surrounding the waters of Assawompset Pond, the largest natural body of fresh water in Massachusetts. Shades of red, orange, and yellow spread from the leaves around the water all the way to the freshwater wetlands that border it, making this an especially beautiful place for a long fall walk.
  2. Rocky Gutter Wildlife Management Area – Take a wild adventure through these thousands of acres of remote forest in Middleborough. Red maple swamps provide bright scarlet foliage that contrast with the forests’ green pine and cedar, and cranberry bogs along Purchase Street offer a stunning scarlet view.

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. Agawam River Trail – Discover the tranquil Agawam River and the marshy wetlands that surround it! This trail follows the river closely, and glimpses of the water appear at every turn. In the fall, the colorful leaves along the river reflect in the calm water and the salt marshes turn lovely shades of orange and red.
  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. Marks Cove Conservation Area – You’ll find fall colors everywhere you look at this diverse Wareham preserve. Rusty red pops out of the retired cranberry bog reverting to natural marsh, while yellow and orange leaves make a splash against the blue waters and scarlet grasses of the salt marshes at its edge.
  5. 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 duck landing on the water in Great Sippewissett Marsh in Falmouth

The salt marshes of Great Sippewissett Marsh, along the Shining Sea Bikeway, take on spectacular colors during the fall.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 colorful diversity of foliage and landscapes.
  3. 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.
  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 Long Pond from several trailheads or from the trails at Goodwill Park, another great place to view fall leaves as well as roaming wild turkeys.
  5. Beebe Woods and Peterson Farm – Through the changing leaves of Beebe Woods, you’ll catch glimpses of large boulders dropped by glaciers during the last Ice Age. Passing glaciers also created the Punch Bowl, a picturesque kettle pond that reflects the surrounding forest. To continue your exploration, follow the trail to Peterson Farm, an active sheep farm across wide fields bordered by woods full of autumn color.
  6. Shining Sea Bikeway – One of Falmouth’s most stunning fall views can be found along Shining Sea Bikeway, which follows the edge of Great Sippewissett Marsh. This spectacular stretch of salt marsh turns incredible shades of rusty red and bright orange in the fall.

Martha’s Vineyard

Looking east along the shoreline of Martha's Vineyard from Menemsha Hills

The observation platform at Menemsha Hills in Chilmark provides a stunning view of Martha’s Vineyard’s northern coast.

  1. Menemsha Hills – Take in the stunning contrast of bright fall leaves against the deep blue of Vineyard Sound with a walk in Menemsha Hills. The gently sloping trail here offers numerous vantage points to look out over this fascinating landscape, which changes from colorful oak, red maple, and beech fores to scrubby green pitch pine, huckleberry, and bayberry as you approach the coast.
  2. Aquinnah Headlands Preserve – Though it’s hard to pick, Aquinnah Headlands’ trails around the Gay Head Cliffs might offer one of the most unique autumn walks in Southeastern Massachusetts. The upper portion of this preserve is only open during the fall, and offers a beautiful loop through coastal brush that fills with yellow goldenrod in September and early October. Take the South Head Loop down to Moshup Beach and you may find a sort of “geological foliage” awaits you: the multicolored clays of the cliffs are at their brightest after rainfall, which we often see in abundance in autumn.
Category: Featured Adventures

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