Foliage Time inVermont's Northeast Kingdom

Foliage Drives
By Deborah Straw
  |  Gorp.com
A Word to the Wise

Autumn chill: In the Fall, the air will be nippy, especially at night. Bring long pants and a sweater or sweatshirt.

Accommodation: Be sure to make sleeping arrangements before you come. Many motels, B & B's and cabins are booked for foliage season months in advance.

Moose: You may very well see moose, as this is their favorite area. They are gentle creatures and slow-moving, but every year, motorists are killed when their cars collide with a moose ambling slowly across the roads. If you see a moose while in a car or on a bike, slow down, take care, and don't expect the moose to get out of your way.

Wildlife: Bring a camera and binoculars. In addition to moose, deer, red fox, raccoons and skunk are common sights, as are large wild turkeys.

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The foliage season is as long-awaited as it is spectacularly beautiful. Just as Vermont maple syrup is boast-worthy, so are we equally sure that we have the best foliage in the Northeast. To celebrate this, the Kingdom always sponsors a Fall Foliage Festival, held in several of its towns.

The 1999 dates for the Northeast Kingdom Fall Foliage Festival events are September 26 to October 3. Towns participating include Walden, Cabot, Plainfield, Peacham, Barnet, Groton, and St. Johnsbury. Each town has a special day. Art exhibits, dinners, sporting events and much more take place. All town events include food such as traditional boiled dinner, chicken pot pie, or a turkey meal. It's wise to reserve for the dinners in advance as they are exceedingly popular and tasty. A few active events include hikes at Cabot; a nature walk through Peacham; a tour of back roads in Barnet; and walking tours of St. J.

For more information on the Northeast Kingdom Fall Foliage Festival, check the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce Web site or call 1-800-639-6379. For general leaf peeping details, call the Foliage Hotline: 1-802-828-3239 (September 1 - October 24).

The leaves start to turn in late August and the brilliant color lasts until the end of September or early October. During years when drought conditions have been bad (as in 1999), the time of the colors may change slightly. I have sometimes spied a few red leaves on my rides through Peacham and Greensboro as early as mid-August.

I've found that most autumn vistas in the Northeast Kingdom are brilliant. I especially appreciate the sloping hillsides off Route 2 around Plainfield, Marshfield, Cabot and Danville. You'll go by fields with Holsteins and horses (perhaps even a few llamas), ponds and reservoirs, and housekeeping cabins. Two of the most universally popular foliage routes are the road through Groton State Forest between Groton and Marshfield, and Routes 5A and 5 from Lyndonville around Lake Willoughby.

The road from the town green in Danville right through Groton StateForest and into Peacham is outstanding. Another short, yet glorious ride is in the heart of Plainfield. Take the road off Route 2 down into the heart of the tiny village. At the Methodist Church, take the road just beyond it to your right (as you face the church - beyond Koenig's used bookstore - assuming, of course, that you can get past without stopping). Keep on that road for several miles. It's a hilly road, past small homes and farms, with glorious mountain views.

In your drives around the Kingdom, stay off the main roads and get lost for a few hours.You'll find your way back to a main road with signseventually. Many dirt roads are dead ends; as the old Vermont sayinggoes,"You can't get there from here." If you've got time and gas in the car, it doesn't matter.

One thing you may see on your drive is a farmer's market, where local growers sell fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. Severalextend into September: Groton (Friday, 3 - 7); Hardwick (Saturday 10 -1); Island Pond (Friday 3 - 5); St. Johnsbury (Saturday); and Newport(Wednesday and Saturday, 9 - 2).


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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