Hiking through Yankee's “Top 25 Towns for Foliage”

It’s that time of year again. As of September 21, we’re officially in fall, or autumn — or as both locals and tourists call it around here, leaf season.

The focus certainly is on leaves. For one thing, they’re falling, which means we get to chase them. (Trying to catch a falling leaf makes children out of everyone, regardless of age, during the time it takes an autumn breeze to tug a leaf from its branch and whirl it to the ground.) And of course they’re changing color. We’ve been seeing a dull red in the swamps for some time now, but every day on our regular routes to and from school and lessons, we see new spots of orange, brilliant red, and yellow on the green hillsides and along the roads.

Articles about “the best” places to see high color, or to take photos of the foliage, are as much a staple of the season as the changing leaves themselves. This year, as part of its 75th anniversary celebration, Yankee magazine put together a list of the “top 25 foliage towns" in New England. The magazine’s editors based their rankings on scores in 14 categories. The categories ran to the obvious (color intensity, scenery, vistas, scenic drives, covered bridges) and tourist-friendly (shopping and lodging), but more than half fell into what I think of as a family-friendly grouping, such as proximity to parks or museums, water, farmers’ markets and farmstands, orchards.

And hikes. I looked more closely at the list of the top-ranked towns. Nine towns around New England received a perfect score for hiking. Although Yankee’s editors don’t specifically make this point, a little bit of checking convinced me that the hikes in these towns work well for families. Trails are often close to town and to other attractions, such as those orchards, farmers’ markets, and museums; and many of them are good lengths for children.

Over the next few days, I’ll post descriptions of those nine towns. I’m adding one more that I think should have received a perfect hiking score, too. Taken together, they add up to the “Great Kids, Great Outdoors Top 10 Towns for Fall Hikes.”

I hope you’ll share your favorite fall hikes here, as well.

Learn more
“The Top 25 Foliage Towns in New England (and Thus the World!)” (Yankee magazine, September/October 2010). The Yankee website does not contain all the information that’s in the magazine.

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

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