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Beauty to Fall Over

September 14, 2006 By:
Gloria Hayes Kremer, JE Feature
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Get some R&R at a B&B -- the Bee & Thistle Inn in Connecticut.
As the miracle of fall foliage unfolds in mid-September and lasts through October, nowhere is the breathtaking blaze of colors that sweeps the landscape more dramatic than in New England.

Foliage enthusiasts can enjoy the spectacle of changing leaves several ways -- by car, train, cruise ships ... even chair lifts.

Here are states with dazzling foliage scenes and a few suggestions for accommodations.

New Hampshire

The White Mountains are noted for their fabulous foliage vistas. There are many options from which to choose a multi-day tour or a layover along a particular route. Here is a particular favorite.

Starting in Lincoln, go north on I-93 and the Franconia Notch Parkway to Franconia Notch State Park. Visit the spectacular 800-foot Flume Gorge. Ride the 80-passenger serial tramway to the summit of Cannon Mountain, where a short walking trail along the rim offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

Continue up the parkway to Exit 35, traveling Route 3 west to Twin Mountain, then east on Route 302 to Bretton Woods. Stop and view Mount Washington, the northeast's highest peak at 6,288 feet rising majestically above the Mount Washington Hotel, one of the last remaining truly grand hotels.

Ride up Mount Washington on the Cog Railway. On Route 302, go through Crawford Notch State Park to Jackson, off Route 6. Then go south on Route 16 to Route 302 east to North Conway, and board the Conway Scenic Railway.

Finish this loop by traveling west to Lincoln on Route 112, the 34-mile super-scenic Kancamagus Highway.

Hotline: 1-800-258-3608

Massachusetts

If you start your tour in Boston, a must is a visit to the Arnold Arboretum with its 6,000 varieties of trees. Stay in a quiet B&B or headquarter yourself in Cambridge, in the heart of Harvard Square (the Charles Hotel is well-located, nestled by the river).

Walk along the peaceful Charles River with its scullers gliding by every day. To the west along Route 2 (the western end is called the Mohawk Trail), the road leads to the gracious town of Williamstown, with its wealth of museums and antique shops.

Mount Greylock offers stunning views of four states. The Berkshires of western Massachusetts boast not only handsome fall foliage, but many cultural landmarks, idyllic settings, and quiet country walks.

Lenox is one of the country's prettiest towns, still gentle and hospitable, even with its popularity as a resort area. Then there's the Red Lion Inn of Stockbridge with gourmet cuisine and a porch where rocking chairs still rock, so close by to the Norman Rockwell Museum.

One of New England's best kept secrets is Cape Ann, with beautiful winding roads and superb vistas.

Hotline: 1-800-227-MASS

Maine

Brilliant colors are splashed across Maine's forests each autumn, as visitors start their foliage treks early in September and continue right through the end of October. (The actual process of leaf changes begins in August as the warm weather wanes, and Maine's 57 species of broad-leaved trees begin preparing for autumn.)

The colors are dazzling -- from the bright oranges and yellows of sugar maples; the purples of white ash; the scarlet of red and mountain maples; to the rich browns of oak.

You can hike a trail, bike along a country road, drive at a leisurely pace -- even board a day-sailer and see the foliage from the water.

There are lovely waterfalls in the state framed by the changing leaves: At Grafton Notch, Evans Notch and Moxie Falls, the scenes are breathtaking. Travel along Route 219 between West Paris and Wayne in the Western Mountains; meander along Route 235 from Union to Hope in the mid-coast region.

Then decide which of seven zones you want to visit.

Hotline: 1-888-MAINE45

Vermont

The bucolic beauty of New England has drawn a number of local Jewish residents to establish homes there. Marc Weissman, for one, lives and works in Barre, which he describes as a lovely town of "probably around 8,000 people."

Other former Philadelphians include Steven Kahn, who grew up in Elkins Park, became an engineer and now lives with his wife, Nancy, and their two children in South Burlington.

Jewish life is not wanting in the Green Mountain State, known for its forward-thinking politics. (Two Jews of particular prominence: Madeleine M. Kunin served as the first Jewish governor of Vermont, 1985-1991; Bernie Sanders, self-described as a democratic socialist, served as a congressman for eight terms, and is now running for the U.S. Senate.)

One of the many bucolic tours in this forest-laden state begins at Woodstock and continues through the Ottauquechee Valley Region. Drive east to Taftsville, left through a covered bridge, then right through Quechee returning to U.S. 4 at Gorge.

At White River Junction, go north to East Thetford on U.S. 5. Follow signs to Post Mills; to Chelsea via Vermont 113 to E. Barre, Montpelier, Middlesex, Stockbridge to junction Vermont 12 via Vermont 107; then Vermont 12 to Woodstock. There are lovely guest houses aplenty or you can stay at the Woodstock Inn, rightly famous for its landmark setting on the village green. (You can cross a covered bridge, hear Paul Revere bells in the steeples and enjoy the delightful town.)

At Craftsbury Common, The Inn on the Common is actually three Federal houses. Up north, the area around Stowe is one of the most popular vacation retreats in the country. (Check out nearby Ben & Jerry's "factory outlet.") The hills are alive with the sound of hikers, bikers, balloonists, walkers and grass-skiers.

Quite a number of ski resorts in this Green Mountain State have chair lift rides during foliage season. Among them are Smuggler's Notch Resort, Sugarbush, Bromley, Stratton, Stowe and Jay Peak.

Hotline: 1-800-VERMONT

Connecticut

Of the 44 National Scenic Roads in America, compact Connecticut has two of them: The Merritt Parkway and Route 169, both offering spectacular foliage.

In Litchfield Hills, at Sharon, take Route 4 west from the Route 7 intersection to Old Sharon Road, then north from the Cornwall Bridge crossing on the Housatonic River to the covered bridge at Route 128. At Route 41, go north from the New York state border to the Sharon/ Salisbury town line. At Kent, take Route 7 north from the New Milford town line to the Cornwall town line.

Another picturesque drive is at Redding on Route 53 north from the Weston town line to the junction of Route 107. The Merritt Parkway suggested drive (Route 15) -- Greenwich to Stratford -- follows the entire length from the New York state line to the Housatonic River bridge in Stratford.

There is a world-class foliage train trip on the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat (1-800-ESSEX-TRAIN) that starts at Essex, No. 1, says The 100 Best Small Towns in America.

Hotline: 1-800-CT-Bound.


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