Road Trip: Picturesque Wolfeboro and New Hampshire’s tapestry of vibrant autumn colours

ABOVE: View from the Town Docks in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. (PHOTO: OLM STAFF)

One of the joys of living in Ottawa is enjoying the four seasons we experience each year. Whether spring, summer, winter, or fall, Ontario, Quebec, and the Northeastern United States offer incredible seasonal escapes that can be coordinated around your weather travel preference.

For many, planning a trip to coincide with the annual fall colours is one of life’s great pleasures. Usually, the height of autumn and the explosion of forest colours happens between the end of the first week of October and the first week of November. A leisurely road trip to the states during this period is a superb idea as you’ll benefit from the summer tourism season being at an end. However, most operators are still open for tourists with all their services for the fall foliage season.

Driving southeast from Ottawa, you can cross at the 1000 Islands bridge or at Cornwall and take in the colours through the New York State Adirondacks area or keep going east towards Montreal and veer south into Vermont and head towards the idyllic and lovely lakeside city of Burlington. However, one road trip that allows you to experience the fall season colours on both sides of the border is the Ottawa-Montreal-New Hampshire trip that takes you through Ontario, Quebec, Vermont, and New Hampshire during the most picturesque time of year. Be sure to stop in Old Montreal on your way down (and on the way back) for lunch or dinner in one of the bustling brassieres to be found in Canada’s greatest city. The driving time from Old Montreal to the White Mountains in New Hampshire is a short three hours, and with the scenery the drive just flies by.

ABOVE: The stunning fall foliage in New Hampshire's Jericho Mountain State Park. (PHOTO: New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism)

The White Mountains of New Hampshire are renowned for their spectacular autumn foliage, and the drive from the White Mountains to Wolfeboro during the peak of fall color is truly a sight to behold. As you wind your way through the mountain passes, you'll be surrounded by a tapestry of vibrant colors. The trees on either side of the road will be a riot of oranges, yellows, and reds, creating a dazzling contrast against the deep blue of the clear mountain sky. The leaves rustle and flutter in the cool autumn breeze, creating a symphony of sound as they sway in the wind. The air is crisp and fresh, and the scent of fallen leaves fills the air.

As you drive through the mountain valleys, you'll see dense stands of sugar maples, their brilliant orange-red leaves lighting up the forest floor. The aspens and birches will be ablaze in the higher elevations with yellows and golds, their leaves shimmering in the sunlight. Mixed among the deciduous trees are evergreens, their dark green needles a striking contrast to the surrounding foliage.

As you descend from the mountains, you'll pass through small towns and villages, each surrounded by a patchwork of colorful trees. As you get closer to Wolfeboro, the views of the larger lakes and the sun starting to set behind the mountains make the scenery even more picturesque. At sundown in the late afternoon, the horizon lights up as the sun dips down, casting a golden glow over the New Hampshire landscape, which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful sights nature offers.

ABOVE: The picturesque town of Wolfeboro is surrounded by lakes. (PHOTO: OLM STAFF)

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, is a small, quietly quaint, and very welcoming town situated on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. The town holds a special significance for Canadians as it was named after Major General James Wolfe, commanding officer of British land forces, who died in 1959 during the battle of the Plains of Abraham. The victory ultimately led to the ceding of New France to the British (1763).

The recently renovated Lake Wentworth Inn in Wolfeboro offers comfortable motel-style accommodations with all the modern amenities required when on a road trip. It’s minutes from Wolfeboro’s main street and brings great comfort to the end of a leisurely day’s drive.

ABOVE: The Libby Museum is New Hampshire's museum of natural history. (PHOTO: Courtesy

Known for its historic charm and picturesque setting, visitors to Wolfeboro can learn about the town's history by visiting the Libby Museum, which focuses on the natural history of the area, and the Wolfeboro Historical Society's Clark House Museum, which is a restored 19th-century home that provides a glimpse into life in the town during the 1800s. A key attraction is the Wolfeboro Town Docks, where visitors can take boat tours of Lake Winnipesaukee and catch a glimpse of the local wildlife.

ABOVE: The M/S Mount Washington approaches the city dock in Wolfeboro. If you look closely, you'll spot The Molly Trolley ready to pick up passengers. (PHOTO: Courtesy

Tourist and recreation activities in Wolfeboro include swimming, boating, and fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee, hiking and cycling in the surrounding forests and hills, visiting the local shops and restaurants, and taking a stroll along the town's picturesque main street. Molly the Trolley provides a tour and history of Wolfeboro. The trolley looks much like a trolley car from the late 19th century, only freed from tracks and cables!  The Wright Museum is another gem to visit in the area. It is dedicated to recognizing and honoring the contributions and enduring legacy of WWII-era Americans. Unique to traditional WWII museums, the over 14,000 items in its collection represent both the home front and the battlefield.

ABOVE: One of the many quaint shops and eateries on Main Street. (PHOTO: OLM STAFF)

Afterward, visit the NH Boat Museum, across from the Nick recreational facility, which is just a short walk to Albee Beach that offers access to the Cotton Valley Trail. This is a 12-mile family-friendly, hard-packed, multi-use rail trail which meanders along two lakes, over trestles, scenic wetlands, beaches, backwoods, and fields. It links the towns of Wolfeboro, Brookfield, and Wakefield by way of a former railroad right-of-way. Walk a part of the trail, or better still, drop into Nordic Skier on 47 N. Main Street and rent some bikes to do the entire route on a sunny fall day. When you return, head to a pub for a cold one. Morrissey's Porch & Pub, Downtown Grille Café, Lydia’s Café, and Garwoods Restaurant & Pub on Main Street are all bustling, friendly spots. Another favourite spot is the El Centenario Mexican restaurant which serves up great tacos and tortillas. Try the soup!

It is worthwhile to check out the Wolfeboro Public Beach, which even though closed for swimming in the fall is still a great place to go for leisurely walk. You note a local landmark called the Brewster Academy, a prestigious boarding school with recreational facilities.

ABOVE: The Castle in the Clouds offers stunning views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the surrounding White Mountains. (PHOTO: Courtesy

If you want to see one of the most spectacular views of NH’s largest lake, surrounding mountains, and over 5,500 acres of conserved land, visit Castle in the Clouds, a 16-room Craftsman style mansion built on a 5,294-acre mountaintop estate in 1913 by a millionaire shoe manufacturer named Thomas Gustave Plant. Because of its grandiosity and historical significance to the area, it remains a popular destination site with locals and tourists. Located in nearby Moultonborough, it overlooks Lake Winnipesaukee and the Ossipee Mountains from a rocky outcropping of Lee Mountain, formerly known as "The Crow's Nest.”

On your return trip to Canada, stop the many scenic spots in the White Mountain, including Bretton Woods. There is great winter skiing in the area . . . but that we'll save for another story!