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Head to Vermont for vivid, vibrant fall foliage

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Head to Vermont for vivid, vibrant fall foliage

The days are shorter and still feel a bit warm here in the Northeast. But in the evening, that crisp autumn air is blowing in.

And I say this: Forget the pumpkin spice flavored everything: Give me the foliage.

Few places give you more ways to celebrate all that seasonal color than Vermont.

This week, as far northern Vermont moves toward peak color and all points south from there begin their show, it’s a great time to head north.

First, some honesty from Michael Snyder, Vermont’s “Chief Foliage Forecaster,” (or as he is officially known, commissioner of forests, parks and recreation for the State of Vermont).

“I was burned by too many misguided snow reports as a kid, so I always like to be transparent,” he said.

Snyder notes that the state did experience an uptick in LDD caterpillar impact on the west side of the state, as well as some Maple Leaf Cutter caterpillar impact on some hillsides throughout the state.

The good news, he said, is that most has grown back and even with the spots where it has not, the vast majority of trees are healthy, the weather has been cooperative and the colors are starting to burst.

In other words: The show will go on.

Dylan Debruyn, meteorologist for Local 22 and 44 in Burlington, told the Herald that viewers are already sending in photos showing brilliant color against the Vermont backdrop with enthusiastic comments.

“The geography of Vermont makes it unique and beautiful,” said Debruyn, who grew up in Plymouth.

“The lakes, the mountains, the fields — it’s all just a perfect backdrop for this,” he said.

“The hype is there for a great foliage season,” he added. “It always lives up to expectations.”

How to see it all?

Snyder says the timeline can dictate where in the state you head — and can also give you a few opportunities to see peak colors over the coming six weeks or so.

First up, he said, is the Northeast Kingdom, “where the show begins.”

The Northeast Kingdom is sparsely populated and dotted with quaint towns. Taking Route 2 can bring you to some great spots.

Pro tip? Head to Jay Peak (jaypeakresort.com) and take a tram ride — or hike — to the top of the mountain for foliage views of both the U.S. and Canada.

The foliage peak moves south bit by bit, into mid Vermont in early October and then spreading both west and south.

Vermont has ample spots for cycling, hiking, kayaking and canoeing as well.

“Seeing foliage from the water is a special experience,” Snyder said. “The combination of the water, forest and hillsides, well, you just cannot go wrong with it.”

Some less busy and totally worthy foliage spots include the Molly Stark State Park (vtstateparks.com/mollystark.html), a lovely park just past the Massachusetts border in Wilmington, where you can hike to a fire tower, have a picnic with a view and savor nature. That’s a great choice for later in the season, as the southern locale means later peak color.

Farther north, should you head out sooner, Elmore State Park (vtstateparks.com/elmore.html) offers fire towers along hikes, water views and more.

Those who like bikes should consider heading up to Burke Mountain, where mountain biking is king. Located far north, Burke is a great spot for any level cyclist, even a first timer, to get out and move among the color.

It also should be a law that every foliage peeper spends some time hanging out at a Vermont brewery. Yes, the beer is great (craft beer was pretty much born in Vermont) but so are the settings. You can find just the right brewery for you via the Vermont Brewer’s Association (vermontbrewers.com). And yes, most are family friendly.

Another favorite foliage visit many have may seem strange: Montpelier.

The state capitol is a city, but it’s quaint, comfortable, walkable and most of all, tucked up against nature. The view of the capitol building surrounded by autumn colors is totally worth a visit, and their downtown is perfect for shopping and dining among the beauty.

Foliage season is busy in Vermont, but with its wide open spaces, plentiful lakes, unique mountain towns and an endless supply of “oh my gosh” vistas, there’s room for all.

“You can’t go wrong, is my point,” said Snyder. “Vermont foliage is well known for a reason.”


You can learn more, including updated foliage maps, at vermontvacation.com.

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