Top Ten Rail-Trails for Fall Foliage - Page 2

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5. Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail, Virginia
Unfurling through southern Virginia, a ride on the 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail comprises a dirt and asphalt journey from Abingdon through Damascus, Virginia, then onward to Whitetop, just above the North Carolina border. The trail's dense forests, sleepy hills, long trestles, scenic pastureland, and inviting communities will make for a memorable and photogenic ride. You can expect a corridor that's well-outfitted with amenities, making it convenient for destination travel and rentals. You can also arrange for a shuttle from Abingdon to Whitetop to take advantage of a mostly downhill ride.

4. Hudson Valley Rail-Trail, New York
New York's paved Hudson Valley Rail-Trail is about 100 miles due north of New York City, and is well worth a stroll for anyone eager to experience autumn's big show. At just over two miles long, the Hudson offers an easygoing trip from Highland to Lloyd, where the woods begin to glow by mid- to late October. Wide, richly forested, and with access to the Black River, the popular pathway is an accessible way to delve into the best of the season.

3. North Central State Trail, Michigan
From late September through mid-October, the newly minted, 62-mile North Central State Trail in northern Michigan offers an arresting backdrop for fall. More than ten miles of the pathway, heading north from Indian River (a good base for trip accommodations) toward Cheboygan and Mackinaw City, streak along Mullet Lake, which will be illuminated with iridescent birch and maples through mid- to late October.

2. Paul Bunyan State Trail, Minnesota
Farther west, northern Minnesota usually reaches its autumn heyday between late September and early October. One great stretch for the adventurous is the burly, 110-mile Paul Bunyan Trail, which simply screams of tall trees and thick leaves. The pathway offers an at-times rugged route—partly paved, partly ballast—suited for hikers and mountain bikers, and the foliage views are as epic as the trail's lumberjack namesake. You'll traverse the shorelines of 21 lakes, delving into deep forests and passing through welcoming communities like Hackensack and Bemidji as you pedal.

1. Missisquoi Valley Rail-Trail, Vermont
One surefire recommendation for early-season peepers—often ready by early September, in fact—is the 26-mile Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail in northern Vermont, nearly touching the Canadian border. This gentle, crushed-limestone pathway begins in Saint Albans and winds through rolling hills and dairy farmland, generally following the Missisquoi River. Daytime temperatures should still be comfortable (nights quite a bit chillier) and the autumn landscape radiates color and wildlife. Attentive moose-seekers, in particular, should stay alert for an extra batch of good fortune.

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