Right around Labor Day weekend a little awakening begins in the back of my head. It starts with a longing for cinnamon-scented baked goods and hearty slow-cooked suppers. It grows stronger with each crisp evening and practically sings with the first crunch of leaves under my feet.
Fall offers sweet rewards to Vermonters, in exchange for letting go of our short New England summer.
Autumn is an incredible reminder of how fortunate we are to live in this state. There are countless ways to appreciate the season, no matter what your interests or needs. In my household, a true fall excursion tantalizes all the senses. Enjoy the changing colors in northwestern Vermont with one of the following itineraries, including stops to enjoy the flavors of autumn. Do not let the Vermont fall pass you by.
Enjoy western views overlooking Lake Champlain and beyond from the top of Mount Philo. The perfect excursion for all abilities and generations, you can choose to hike the trail, walk the road, or drive on up. Bring a picnic, then stop at Vermont Cookie Love in Ferrisburgh on your way back home for freshly baked fall-tastic cookie flavors like oatmeal, coconut, chocolate chip, dried cranberry, almond (that’s all one cookie!) and pumpkin chocolate chip.
Be a Tourist in Your Own State
You’ll find the both the Stowe Gondola SkyRide and Cold Hollow Cider Mill on many tourist must-do lists, for good reason. The views that emerge as you ascend Mount Mansfield on the gondola wow any and all foliage enthusiasts, and kids will love the gradual, smooth ride. Once up top, choose to hike around or just rest and take it all in. On your way out of town, grab a dozen piping hot cider donuts from Cold Hollow, voted best cider donuts by Seven Days readers.
Colors on the Move
Leaf peeping doesn’t have to take place from the top of a mountain ridge. On the contrary, Vermont’s towns and valleys are as spectacular as the mountains during foliage season. Take in the beauty of hillsides, rivers, and covered bridges surrounded by autumn colors on a Fall Foliage Train Ride, departing from Chester, Vermont three times a day on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from September 19th to October 18th. On your way to Chester, take a slight detour to the King Arthur Flour Bakery + Café in Norwich. King Arthur Flour rules seasonal baking, virtually guaranteeing fall goodies right when you want them.
Little River History Hike and Prohibition Pig
Seeing the autumn colors is one thing. Being inside the colors is a whole other experience. Through Columbus Day weekend, Little River State Park is an ideal spot to immerse yourself in the fall scenery. The History Hike is much more a walking journey back in time than a hike. The trail meanders through beautiful forest, past stone walls, foundations, and orchards from a century ago. You may work up an appetite, so head into Waterbury for lunch or dinner at Prohibition Pig. While known for classic cocktails and craft beer (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), kids and adults alike will love the hearty BBQ comfort food.
Profile-Worthy Photo Op
Moss Glen Falls and The Warren Store
Route 100 through the Mad River Valley follows the eastern edge of the northern half of the Green Mountain National Forest, making it one of Vermont’s most scenic stretches of road. Tucked into the forest in Granville you’ll find family-favorite Moss Glen Falls, a breathtaking waterfall just a short walk into the woods, with easy access from route 100. A backdrop of fall colors make the waterfall even more sensational. On your way to or from the falls, round off your quintessential Vermont experience at The Warren Store. Order a sandwich on homemade bread at the deli or a whoopie pie from the bakery in the barn out back.
When Should You Go?
Pinning down peak foliage is tricky. Luckily, there are plenty of others doing it for us. Check the Vermont Travel & Tourism Foliage Forecaster or the Yankee Live Foliage Map to plan your optimal trip. Then get out there with your favorite people and soak in the autumn beauty, because pretty soon you’ll be giving it up for the frosty Vermont winter.