Today's Vermont: Fall Foliage, Vermont Vaudeville and Mountain Hikes
Days are getting shorter as another Vermont summer fades into fall. My woodpile is stacked high and tight in preparation for the long winter, and in wet spots across the valley the swamp maples are flaring red, heralding the arrival of Vermont’s brief, spectacular fall foliage season.
Every moment feels fleeting and precious this time of year, as we Vermonters try our best to squeeze in one last dip in the pond, one last maple creemee, and one last picnic dinner of fresh tomatoes and sweet corn.
“The sense of summer slipping away is palpable, almost physical,” writes State14 contributor Ben Hewitt in a poignant post called Summer’s End. For many Vermont families the return to school is an especially abrupt transition back to structure and routine, an experience State14 founder Carolinne Griffin captures well in her lyrically crafted story Night Shift.
School or no school, freedom of time can feel more and more like a privilege these days. Amidst the frenetic storm of push notifications, breakneck economic growth, and epidemic levels of anxiety, Vermont can offer a sense of refuge. Every time I come home to Vermont after spending time away I notice my breath start to deepen as I cross the state line, and my racing thoughts slow down as I return to the patient embrace of the green mountains.
I hope visitors feel a similar sense of ease upon arriving in Vermont, regardless of whether they come here every weekend or are arriving for the very first time. No doubt many of these visitors will time their trips to Vermont for foliage season, and rightly so - all hyperbole aside, when it comes to fall color no place on Earth can match the beauty of Vermont.
The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing wisely capitalizes on foliage season, offering a weekly Fall Foliage Report and promoting experiences that are complementary to leaf peeping. Vermont Tourism and Cabot Cheese recently partnered to sponsor a regional guide to foliage season activities in The Boston Globe, highlighting the delicious combo of craft cider and aged cheese in a piece with the not-so-subtle title: The best time of year in Vermont. (We were especially happy to see our friends at Shacksbury get a well-deserved mention.)
Foliage season rolls out a bit differently each year, with peak color generally progressing from north to south and from high elevation mountainsides to lowland valleys. One of the best ways to take in the color is to plan a hike in the mountains where you can pass through different forest types and eventually emerge to a vista of patchwork fields and forest, sparkling lakes, and bright bands of color on the rolling hills.
When it comes to choosing where to hike, I agree with every recommendation offered by writer Suzanne Loring in her piece 5 Amazing Hikes in Vermont with Stunning Fall Foliage Views, as well as the tips in Erica Housekeeper’s roundup of 5 Easy Vermont Hikes to Explore this Fall (I guess hike recommendations are best organized in groups of five?)
If I could recommend just one foliage season hike in Vermont, though, my top pick would be Mt. Pisgah in Westmore. The trail is steep but not too long, and hikers who reach the top are rewarded by spectacular views of Lake Willoughby.
Or, if you’re really looking for a workout, consider signing up for the Trapp Lodge Mountain Marathon, a half and full marathon distance trail run that’s scheduled for October 19th, 2019, nicely coinciding with Oktoberfest activities in Stowe.
If the mere thought of running a marathon is exhausting, consider a workout that simply involves sitting in a chair and laughing your butt off. On October 17th, 18th, and 19th Vermont Vaudeville returns to the Hardwick Townhouse for a series of shows that will leave audience members feeling sore from wave upon wave of full body laughter. I try not to miss a single Vermont Vaudeville show, and once you attend one you’ll understand why.
Many Vermont inns, hotels, and bed and breakfasts book up early for peak foliage season weekends. Make reservations in advance, especially if you’re hoping to stay at a classic inn like Blueberry Hill, Rabbit Hill, or Highland Lodge, and expect to pay a premium for the privilege.
If you don’t mind roughing it, though, camping can be a terrific (and affordable) option in the fall. Many campgrounds that get crowded in the summertime clear out after Labor Day, and plenty of space is available even during the height of foliage season. You’ll need to pack plenty of warm clothes, but camping in Vermont can be delightful in the fall, especially if you choose a site where you can build a roaring campfire. Loyal readers of this column know that I’m a big fan of the campgrounds at Vermont State Parks, and most stay open well into October.
I’ll close out Today’s Vermont this month with bittersweet news about a gorgeous hill-farm in the Northeast Kingdom. On October 4th, 2019, a farmhouse and 132 acres of pasture and woodlands at 1573 Chamberlain Hill Road in Albany will be going up for auction. Foreclosures are never something to celebrate, but for the right buyer this auction could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as farms like this one don’t come on the market very often.
Do you have a favorite fall hike in Vermont? Any Vermont real estate tips to share? Maybe you’re from Maine or New Hampshire, and want to challenge my assertion that Vermont’s fall foliage is the best in the world? Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #todaysvermont, and thanks, as always, for reading.