Five Ways to Enjoy the Fall Foliage
By Candyce H. Stapen
Leaf-peepers love fall for its dazzling foliage and crisp walking weather. Autumn is the season to hike through woods, take scenic train rides and drive the back roads in order to savor the scenery. Billowing red, yellow and rust colored leaves change a mountainside to ribbons of color and forest groves shine like gems.
Fall is my favorite time to follow country roads across covered bridges and through small towns rich in colonial history. Along the way, there are Holsteins grazing in paddocks against the crimson hillsides and hamlets whose antique shops court customers with red painted sleighs and old leather saddles set alongside pumpkins on their front lawns. Train rides offer the scenery without the work. Some traverse valleys and others chug up a steep slope where the aspens turn the color of spun gold.
Here are five favorite fall adventures various parts of the U.S.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC and TN
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddling North Carolina and Tennessee offers some of the best southeastern hiking for peak colors. With 850-miles of trails from easy to difficult backcountry treks, you can choose your autumn pleasure. The park’s more than twenty Quiet Walkways, paths just1/4 and 1/2 in length, reward even little kids with a sense of accomplishment and beautiful vistas. To reach Abrams Falls, one of the park’s most photographed sites, walk a moderately difficult but not excruciating 5-miles round-trip.
The Equinox, Manchester, VT.
Through fall a stay at the Equinox, an upscale property that traces its roots to 1769, comes with the chance to try outdoor adventures in a woodsy setting. Learn how to handle a Harris hawk at the British School of Falconry, and can try off-road adventures at the resort’s Land Rover Experience Driving School. You learn how to maneuver up steep paths, over rocks, down slopes and around other road obstacles
Mt Washington Cog Railway, New Hampshire.
The Mt. Washington Cog Railway, in Bretton Woods, the world’s first mountain-climbing cog train, pushes instead of pulls you along to the summit of the northeast’s tallest peak. En route to the 6, 288-foot summit, you pass mountain streams and hillsides bright with yellow birch leaves and red maples. On a clear day, from the look-out at the top, you can see six states -- New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine. Reservations recommended.
Verde Canyon Railroad, Arizona
Bold red buttes and bluffs form part of the landscape traversed by the Verde Canyon Railroad. On the 40-mile round-trip ride from Clarkdale, AZ, you roll through a canyon accessible only by train, where golden cottonwoods glow against red rock formations. You pass Sinagua Indian cliff dwellings and through a 680-foot man-made tunnel. Keep a sharp eye out for deer, antelope, red tail hawks, javelina, and even bald eagles.
Skyline Drive, Virginia
Skyline Drive, as famous for its curves as for its fall foliage, stretches 105-miles from Front Royal to Rockfish Gap, cutting through Shenandoah National Park. In prime season the two lanes roads back-up with traffic. Break up your scenic drive by getting out of your car to stroll a nature trail or two. The Story of the Forest Families Trail near Byrd Visitor Center, is a 1.8 mile route that threads through forests and swamps. Blackrock Summit, a mile-long round-trip, rewards hikers with panoramic views.