By DIANA CHENG
For Asian American Press
NEW ENGLAND (Oct. 10, 2015) — I just came back from a road trip through several Northeastern States, and I can report to you, the foliage color change was from 10 percent to 40 percent. So if you are thinking of driving through beautiful New England to capture some fall sights, the coming week or two in October will be perfect.
Nobody can predict exactly when leaves will change colors from year to year, but late September to mid-October is usually the range; altitude and latitude are key factors as well. As for this year, locals have been saying they are having exceptionally warm weather, so the foliage change is a week late.
The following is my travel log, a sample itinerary you may like to use as a general guide. The dates are important too, as you can gauge how much foliage would have changed by the time you head out.
I started my trip from Wayland, Mass, a suburb that is around 30 miles west of Boston and about a 15 minute drive from Walden Pond where Henry David Thoreau lived for two years in a cabin he built. It was like summer when I walked the path around the lake; yes, it is much larger than a pond that we usually think of. There were a few swimmers at the beach. Leaves were green and the sky was blue, a serene setting for us modern day admirers of the tranquil life. By the parking lot was a replica of Thoreau’s minimal home: A bed, a table, a desk, three chairs: “one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society,” he wrote.
I love his economic calculation too: “I maintained myself thus solely by the labor of my hands, and I found that, by working about six weeks in a year, I could meet all the expenses of living.”
A short 6 minutes drive up north from Walden Pond is the historic town of Concord where Thoreau was born. If you have time, visit Concord for the historic Minute Man National Park, North Bridge, and Paul Revere Capture Site. Don’t miss the Concord Museum, a rich place to savor history. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is the resting place for the literati. Follow “Authors Ridge” to the graves of Thoreau, Hawthorne, Alcotts, and Emerson.
September 30 – Oct. 1
In pouring rain I drove north on I95 to the coastal city of Portland, Maine, about two hours from Boston. From there, I continued to Rockland, and stayed in Rockport for the night. The next morning I took the short drive up north to reach a gem of a town, Camden. While this was not a place typically for fall foliage, I did enjoy the change of scenery, a fishing town so picturesque I felt like I was visiting a movie set.
The scenic drive from Rockport to Camden is a must. I followed Pascal Road, then lingered along the beautiful loop of Russel Ave., Limerock and Union, stopping many times for photos. The special breed of white-belted cows lazing in the green pastures made one whimsical picture. The foliage was still overwhelmingly green, making the few sporadic splashes of orangey red even more precious. If you make your trip in mid October, the scenery would be even more inviting.
While in Camden, I drove to the summit of Mt. Battie in Camden Hills State Park. That same breathtaking, panoramic view of Penobscot Bay and its surrounding countryside had inspired Edna St. Vincent Millay to write her famous poem “Renascence”, an experience that set off her poetic expedition which eventually led her to the summit of a Pulitzer in 1923.
Took Rt. 3 from Camden to Augusta. The capital of Maine is just 42 miles from the coast. The drive westward on small country roads towards Bethel then Gilead was leisurely and a feast for the senses. I began to see more red foliage, maybe around 25 percent. What was interesting was the color orange. That was from a proliferation of pumpkins, in patches, on flatbeds, and in arrays of all sorts lined up in green lawns for sale.
Through Gilead, the western end of Maine, I reached nearby Gorham, New Hampshire. The natural environs changed as I turned south along scenic Rt. 16 towards Jackson and North Conway. This is the vicinity of the magnificent White Mountain National Forest, where Mt. Washington is located, the highest peak of Northeastern United States at 6,288 ft. Colors of foliage deepened as I drove down Rt. 16. The town of North Conway is a commercial centre with outlet stores. The Conway Scenic Railroad tour starts there.
Drove to nearby Jackson to see the famous covered bridge spanning the Ellis River. A cacophony of colors intermingled at the river edge, an ideal spot for the photographer. I took the footpath and walked inside the bridge, from there, aimed my camera out to capture the scenery framed by the wooden bridge trusses.
After that I headed north to the White Mountain National Forest Visitors Centre. Right there in the parking lot were beautiful maple trees turning deep orange. The staff was helpful pointing to the little section of the Appalachian Trail in that locale. And following their directions, I drove to the Glen Ellis Falls in nearby Pinkham Notch. Water from Mt. Washington flows down to the Ellis River, feeding the larger Saco River then out into the Atlantic through Maine. Here, the water falls down a spectacular 64 ft. drop, then runs along forming pools of emerald green, offering magnificent sight and sound.
Drove westward from Conway to Lincoln on the Kancamagus Highway, 32 miles of stunning natural beauty. Foliage was the best here in my whole trip. On that day, the color change was about 30 percent to 40 percent. It will be indeed breathtaking when it reaches the peak in the coming week. There are many hiking trails and viewpoints along this beautiful stretch of road through the White Mountains, must-drive route from New Hampshire to Vermont. My destination was Stowe, VT.
In Stowe, I drove to the top of the hill to find the Trapp Family Lodge, a fancy hotel run by the descendents of the famous Von Trapp family of The Sound of Music fame. The hills are alive indeed, and the Von Trapps in 1941 purchased a farm in that location for the reason that the scenery was reminiscent of their homeland Austria. A hefty sum to stay there, but do go for the sight. The lodge overlooks a magnificent valley of green mountains. Vermont’s weather on that day was summery. In a week I expect the Lodge will be shrouded with colors.
Headed south of Stowe to the Waterbury Reservoir, placid water bounded by changing foliage, an ideal spot for the avid photographer. Onward to Lake Champlain at Burlington, a huge freshwater lake that spans Vermont, New York and north to Quebec, Canada. Green was still the predominant color surrounding the water at that time.
Vermont’s Rt.100 is the scenic drive south to the Green Mountain National Forest. Drove through Watisfield, Killington to Ludlow, then headed west to join Rt. 7 for Bennington. I stopped by Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury, and the poet’s grave in the First Church in Bennington. Took the U.S. Rt. 7 south from Bennington VT to Williamstown, MA and stayed for the night.
Continued on US 7 south about an hour to Lenox. Not much color changes there as the lawn in Tanglewood – the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra – was still lush green albeit colorful vegetations in distant hills across the road offered some photogenic appeal. I made a mental note to return for the Tanglewood Festival in the summer time.
From Tanglewood, a short 10-minute drive led me to The Mount, Edith Wharton’s House, my last stop before heading back east towards Boston. The well-groomed gardens and the symmetry of the architecture were fascinating. For the foliage seeker, the next week would be more promising; but for me, the curious, first time visitor to the famous writer’s mansion and gorgeous grounds, this was the best a lingering summer could offer.