Last year I put almost 140 miles on my shagging around for 'foilage.' I never strayed more than about 9 miles from my home.
If there are "crowds" in the usual places, seek out the unusual places. There are so many side roads and country roads that are off the beaten path it's crazy. And for those of you who have no sense of direction, get a GPS, you won't get lost. (I prefer a 2-dimensional navigation system myself, one made of paper.)
As for north central Mass right now, the colors seem to be muted still. I'm not sure if we're going to get any blazing color or not. With the rain this weekend we'll see.