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By Emily Green

While the leaves still cling to the trees and crisp blue skies promise a relief from the New York City summer, we decided one last camp trip was in order. In just over an hour on the way to Upstate New York, the city makes way for open roads, autumnal sunshine and quintessential activities that make the most of the season.

We picked up our camper van named San Fran on a Friday afternoon from New Jersey and drove up through Harriman State Park with a playlist of old favorites and cabin-worthy cozy tracks setting the scene. Four friends, two nights of adventures ahead of us for our weekend trip in upstate New York… here are some of our highlights.

Upstate New York Fall Road Trip Campervan Campsite

Peeping leaves and hiking in the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks boast a bouquet of awesome fall colors and hiking trails to warm the legs on a chilled day. There are dozens of trails with panoramic views and varying levels of difficulty so there’s something for everyone. It’s also a great spot to camp out – with a ton of cool campgrounds and secluded places along the river or beside lakes. We camped just north of picturesque Lake George in an off-the-grid campsite via Hipcamp, set up after dark and awoke to find ourselves in a den by a river glowing with yellow leaves.

Upstate New York Fall Road Trip Apple Orchard

Visiting an Apple Orchard

I don’t think there’s anything more classically American than visiting an apple orchard in fall. Not only can you wander the rows of trees and pick bushels of apples, but there’s cider tastings and delicious sweet treats to indulge in. When we arrived at Hicks Apple Orchard as part of our weekend trip in upstate New York, the red wooden barn was a haze of apple cider donut smells and people sprawled out in the afternoon sun playing corn hole and savouring wood fire pizza.

Upstate New York Fall Road Trip

Checking out the local breweries on our weekend trip in upstate New York

For the next leg of our weekend trip in upstate New York, we headed over the border to Vermont and were hit with a wave of rust-coloured maple leaves sprawled out over the hills as far as the eye could see. If you’re there later in the season it can be fun to visit a maple sugar farm and see the harvest, but we were a little early and opted to sample some of Vermont’s finest beers instead. With more breweries than any other state there’s plenty to choose from, it’s worth checking out Long Trail or Killington Beer Company. The best thing is you can stock up the camper fridge too!

Upstate New York Fall Road Trip Alpacas

Camping on a farm in Vermont

Saturday night we found another place through Hipcamp on a family farm almost right on the state border near Granville. We were greeted with dogs, alpacas, pigs, chickens and the friendliest family. They even mowed us a spot on a hilltop at sunset to set up a campfire and gave us a dozen fresh eggs for breakfast.

Upstate New York Fall Road Trip Vermont

Driving the Taconic State Parkway home

From Vermont, we hit the road at sunrise to have the road to ourselves and take the scenic Taconic State Parkway down the East side of the Hudson. Leaving in the dark we saw surreal giant pink glowing glasshouse farms then watched dawn spread out over rainbows of leaves as we made our way back to the city. Stopping at the lookouts for coffee breaks, it’s well worth the slightly longer drive just to have a few more minutes in nature.

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