The Top 3: Hiking through Yankee's Top 25 Towns for Foliage

In my last post I described the article in the September/October issue of Yankee magazine that ranked the “Top 25 Towns for Foliage” in New England. I took that ranking, sorted it on the Hiking category, and created the “Great Kids, Great Outdoors Top 10 Towns for Fall Hikes.”

I’ve been to most of these towns at one time or another, often with children in hand. In my experience, there’s no resisting the appeal of classic New England in the fall. Whether it’s walking across a covered bridge or picking apples at a local orchard or hiking in to a brightly framed waterfall, the intensity of these fall experiences colors our children’s memories, the kind that lasts.

My Top 3, not surprisingly, correspond to Yankee’s overall top three towns:

Kent, Connecticut. Yankee found “the pinnacle of the leaf-peeping experience” in the northwestern Connecticut town of Kent. The small town (pop. 3,000) combines “uncommon natural beauty and culture,” with art galleries and public art in town, and waterfalls, granite outcroppings, and rivers just outside the town. Look at the three-mile orange trail hike through Macedonia Brook State Park, follow the Appalachian Trail for several miles along the Housatonic River, or hike a short distance to Kent Falls, a 200-foot cascade.

Bethel, Maine. “Maine’s mountain gem,” says Yankee, mentioning Evans Notch and Sunday River’s “chondola,” which whisks visitors 1,000 feet up the ski area’s North Peak on fall weekends. My kids would go for that, but not the covered bridge driving tour. A few of the many options for fall family hikes out of Evans Notch: The Roost Loop, East Royce Mountain, and Caribou Mountain.

Manchester, Vermont. Equinox Mountain, the highest peak in the Taconic Range, offers what Yankee calls “a painter’s palette of gold and crimson” in the first week of October. If the steep 5.8-mile hike to the summit on the Burr and Burton Trail is too long, try one of the short (less than one mile) trails maintained by the Equinox Preservation Trust. Or visit on October 16, the 5th Annual Pumpkin Carving Festival.

If it’s raining, or even if it isn’t, my children could spend an entire day in Northshire Bookstore, one of New England’s great independent bookstores. Jim, on the other hand, would be torn between wandering through Northshire and wading the waters of the Batten Kill, New England’s most famous fly-fishing river.

Hearing their dad bring up fly fishing, Ursula and Virgil clamored to join him. I guess we’re headed for Manchester sometime this month. Jim reassured me that it’ll be a great fall experience. “No leaves anywhere can match the color of male brook trout in the fall,” he told me.

Learn more
- Orvis, the fly fishing company based in Manchester, Vermont, holds fall fly-fishing classes for children.
- Read “The Top 25 Foliage Towns in New England (and Thus the World!)” in Yankee magazine (September/October 2010); view the list on their website.
- AMC's Connecticut Chapter is hosting an Appalachian Trail day on October 23, with hikes along the entire length of the trail in Connecticut.

Photo of Kent Falls, Connecticut. Credit: Ben Prepelka

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

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