The Final 2 (and a Bonus 2): Hiking through Yankee’s Top 25 Towns for Foliage

This is the last in a series devoted to Yankee magazine’s list of the “Top 25 Towns for Foliage” in New England. Yankee used 14 different measures to come up with its list. I sorted one of those rankings, the hiking category, and created the “Great Kids, Great Outdoors Top 10 Towns for Fall Hikes.”

Nine of the towns in Yankee’s list received the top score, 5, for hiking. The final two from that group come from different parts of New England — one southern, one northern — and offer different outdoor experiences.

Williamstown, Massachusetts.
“The ultimate college town,” Yankee calls Williamstown, ranked fourth on its Top 25 list, “sheltered in the arms of Massachusetts’ highest mountain.” That is Mt. Greylock, officially listed in the town of Adams. If you’re in the Berkshires, it’s nearly impossible not to be pulled into Williamstown’s orbit. Walk around the town and visit the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. The art museum makes itself accessible to families, with kids’ activities inside and easy trails on its 140-acre campus — and geocaching, too! You don’t have to go far to find other trails, as well. According to Yankee, the favorite hike of Williams College students is “the two-mile pitch to Pine Cobble, a quartzite outcropping with a panoramic view of ‘the Purple Valley’ and church spires below.” The Appalachian Trail crosses the town boundary twice, at its southeast edge and again to its north.

Rangeley, Maine. “The lakes of Maine’s western mountains hold up a succession of mirrors to some of the state’s best fall foliage,” says Yankee. This watery focus extends to the best activities for families in the Rangeley area. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail traverses the Rangeley Lakes, and many other shorter flatwater paddle trips are possible for families who bring their own gear and those who want to rent.

Last but not least, here are two towns I'll call tied for 10th place in the "Great Kids, Great Outdoors Top 10 Towns for Fall Hikes" list. Both towns combine water with elevation — a perfect fall combination — and both, in my opinion, offer great fall walks and hikes for children and families.

Camden, Maine. “The view from the forested slopes of Mount Battie straight down to the forest of masts in Camden Harbor is one of the most dramatic in New England — and never more beautiful than in fall,” says Yankee. In addition to Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park, other recommended hikes are Mount Megunticook and Bald Rock Mountain.

Sandwich, New Hampshire. Yankee gave Sandwich four points in the hiking category, but Sandwich is at the center of some of the best hiking for families in the Northeast. The peaks of the Squam Range rise above the bays and islands of Squam Lake, offering spectacular views after only one or two miles of hiking. The hike to the top of West Rattlesnake is a classic first hike for many children. Or visit the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Sandwich is also the location for the final country fair of the season in New Hampshire. The Sandwich Fair celebrates 100 years this year over Columbus Day weekend.

Learn more
Read “The Top 25 Foliage Towns in New England (and Thus the World!)” (Yankee magazine, September/October 2010); some information on Yankee's website.

Great Kids, Great Outdoors” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Kristen Laine.

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