Everyone who lives around here has a favorite strategy for viewing fall foliage — favorite places, favorite views, favorite hikes, favorite car rides.

And, since everyone’s different, there’s plenty of variety among those favorites.

We asked half a dozen people with different personalities and backgrounds about their favorites. Here’s what some of them said:


Lisa Senecal

Writer, member of Vermont Commission on Women, Stowe resident.

Favorite place to see fall foliage?

Hiking up to Sterling Pond is amazing. If not on foot, the drive from Stowe to Bristol over the Appalachian Gap is spectacular and, if the weather cooperates, ending at Bristol Falls for a swim is one of life’s great pleasures.

What makes it your favorite?

There are views as you’re leaving Stowe village that are glorious, and the drive from Waterbury to Waitsfield has farms and fields with the mountains in the background that create a quintessential Vermont scene. Add to that the drive over App Gap and the view from the summit and ending with one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state where I have special memories — well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

When you want to show the best of fall foliage to someone from the flatlands, where do you take them?

I love the drive up Route 100 North from Stowe to Morrisville, then hop on Route 12 through Elmore and on to Montpelier. The villages are charming, Lake Elmore and Elmore Mountain are stunning, and ending up in Montpelier is always a treat in my book.

What do you hope they will see?

If very lucky, in addition to peak foliage, spotting a moose or two in the marshes along Route 12 is always a treat.

Do you have a story about a friend seeing Vermont’s fall foliage for the first time?

My most memorable experiences with folks seeing our fall foliage for the first time have all happened in Stowe with people I don’t know. Visitors wowed by our foliage have a tendency to stop in unexpected and often ridiculous ways, spots when they suddenly see a view they just must capture. Between my house and the Mountain Road there are several such spots, including:

• Just atop the brow of the hill before Stowe Middle/High School when coming from Moscow. It’s always a surprise to crest the hill and suddenly come upon a car stopped partially or completely in the road, or a person standing in the road taking pictures.

• The views from The Bistro at Ten Acres and on Luce Hill Road toward Mount Mansfield are always popular spots to randomly stop in the road and take pictures, but at least you can see those from a distance!


The Rev. Pat Thompson

A resident of Wolcott.

Favorite foliage drive:

We almost always go up through Wolcott to Hardwick, then Route 6 up to Barton, then Route 5 through Orleans and Coventry and Route 14 over to Route 100 — which is our real destination.

We love driving down Route 100 because that seems to have some of the most spectacular foliage colors that we have found. Sometimes we then take Route 118 and go over by Belvidere Pond, which was one of my father’s favorite places, and then down into Johnson and back home.

That is the route that we would take anyone who was visiting with us.


Gizelle Guyette

Morristown Centennial Library director.

Asking a Vermonter to choose a single favorite fall foliage viewing site is like asking a librarian to choose the best book in the library. Certain beauty spots catch in the memory, so let me extoll their virtues:

• Right here in Elmore. A few years ago, I had the chance to paddle around Lake Elmore on a warm September day, one of those azure-skied beauties where the hills are flaming and the fields still green. As I rounded the shoreline alongside Route 12, the water glinted steel blue, reflecting a spill of yellow leaves admiring their reflection, and as a contrast, a pear tree clinging to the bank trailed its branches in the lapping wavelets. Its foliage had deepened to wine, with ripe pears, pale green-gold, weighting it down in clusters. Breathtaking.

• Milton: Here I have to put in a good word for my almost-former hometown, especially in the hills above the town proper. The remains of the one-room schoolhouse where my great-grandfather and his siblings attended through the eighth grade lie mostly buried now up on Hardscrabble Hill, under decades of leaf-pack mulch and scrubby ground cover, but a few weathered boards may still be visible below peach-hued sugar bush, russet oak and the occasional lemon-teardrop birch. Farther up the winding dirt road, all a haze of paint-palette color, sheep graze in the viridian foreground, oblivious to the breathtaking, sun-soaked valley vista view of the town in which they live, on land which once belonged to ancestors’ farms.

• Ripton: The Bread Loaf campus needs no further accolades to attract tourists, but for those of us fortunate enough to have frequented it, the air, inhaled in gulps, tastes golden, something between cider and champagne, and the sprawling old yellow, green-roofed buildings blend into the red-and-gold landscape come fall. Floorboards in the lodge creak; the brook, a hike over the field across the road and a quick stumble down the conifer-studded bank is a silver-and-evergreen counterpoint. Yes, you’ll immediately feel compelled to declaim a Robert Frost poem.

• The Champlain Islands: The causeway between Milton and the Islands, a long, narrow stretch of guardrail-flanked road rising above Lake Champlain on both sides, is worthy of a few sonnets at any time of year. I drove there after a recent early-morning trip to drop off my brother at the airport, and the sky alone, all rose and apricot and honey, spilling its hues over silver water spiked with reeds, would have been sufficient spiritual sustenance in itself. Serving as a liquid stage for the choreography of bobbing gulls and ducks amid the balletic gestures of white lotus-plumed snowy egrets, poising on slender twig legs and spreading sail-like wings, the lake at dawn is a series of haiku written in scenery on the waking world. The cattail-thronged swamp on the other side of Marycrest Beach (it’s called something else now) teems with birds and turtles, and the trees along Route 2 and on the little islands and peninsula are just starting to blush. If you make a day of it and wend your way all the way up through Isle La Motte to St. Anne’s Shrine, be prepared to fairly swoon with the beauty of the sky-and-water views amid the elegance of the structures and the Stations-of-the-Cross walk; it all feels like holy ground.

There are so many more, but these four places are worthy of your time and travel.


Charles Safford

Town manager, Stowe.

Favorite place, or driving route, to see fall foliage?

Elmore Mountain Road.

What makes it your favorite?

The views of the Stowe Valley. On the way home, it is the perfect way to relax by taking a dirt road and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

When you want to show the best of fall foliage to someone from the flatlands, where do you take them?

I drive them around Stowe and the surrounding area.

What do you hope they will see?

How beautiful Vermont is in general and Stowe in particular. Now that the sidewalks are almost done, I’ll also take them for a walk on Main Street to see a classic New England village.

Do you have a story about a friend seeing Vermont’s fall foliage for the first time?

A friend from Colorado came out. Colorado in the fall is beautiful, but is no match for the spectrum of colors Vermont has to offer.


John Mandeville

Executive director, Lamoille Economic Development Corp.

I was born and raised in California but have lived in downstate New York and seven years in the U.K. There is nothing quite like a northern New England fall for truly breathtaking landscapes and crisp, exhilarating weather conducive for drives in the mountains and hikes through the woods. Make the trip in yellow Corvette with the T-top off and it is heaven on earth — or at least as close as I am likely to get.

The vibrant fall colors to be seen here at peak color are jaw-droppingly beautiful. Taking a long hike on any of the abundant hiking trails throughout the region with the love of your life, your golden retriever, a loaf of good Elmore Mountain bread, Mount Mansfield Creamery cheese, and some cans of Stowe Cider is about as good as it gets.

Favorite route to see fall foliage?

Over Smugglers Notch, east on Route 15 to Route 100 north, east on Route 58 to Irasburg, south on Route 14 to the North Wolcott Road to Route 15 West, south on Route 100 back to Stowe, and then a great meal at any of the fine restaurants in Stowe.

For a hike, the Nature Conservancy’s Barr Hill reserve in Greensboro.

What makes those your favorites?

In both cases, they are just so pleasant to experience and provide a vibrancy to life that can’t be beat.

When you want to show the best of fall foliage to someone from the flatlands, what do you hope they will see?

The beauty and uniqueness of a part of the world which I usually refer to as God’s Country — or at least the place he would like to retire!


Adam Howard

President and CEO, Height of Land Publications in Jeffersonville.

One observation I’d make off the top is that every single year, the foliage is great. Getting to peak is what’s different. The amount of time. The weather, the rain and the wind. That’s what’s in play. Some will say, “Oh, it was a dry spring, that’s why the sugar maples are so red,” or “Oh, we had a wet spring and that’s why the sugar maples are so red.” They don’t really know. It’s magic.

And it’s all about the weather. If it’s stellar as it was early this fall, you’re out in it early and late when the light is so sharp. And it’s always good when the weather is good. When the weather is crappy, what we think of the foliage that year rides along.

Favorite place, or driving route, to see fall foliage?

Pleasant Valley in Cambridge, Belvidere and the Lamoille River Valley from Cambridge to Hyde Park. The valleys, where you can really see the light play with the altitude, that’s where it’s most amazing.

And if you’re on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail or paddling down the Lamoille? Hello? It’s the most beautiful place on earth.

These are places I know well. When you’ve spent your whole life in a place, the changes that come with the season happen slowly and take on a special tune. You’re not just looking at it; you’re feeling it. Living it. You’re thinking about the time passing, the aging, the transition. And it’s hard not to reflect on your own life and relationships.

When you want to show the best of fall foliage to someone from the flatlands, where do you take them?

It’s hard not to just sit in my front yard. We get third cut this time of year, and that makes for a 20-acre mowed lawn. The sun rises and bisects Pleasant Valley, illuminating West Hill behind our house in the morning, and Mount Mansfield and all its ridges; Adam’s Apple, Bearclaw (or what the locals call Burnt), Pleasant Ridge, Sunset Ridge. Beyond that Brewster or Sterling Ridge in the far distance. The suns sets and the black overtakes the color.

What do you hope they will see?

The colors get all the glory, but without the shadows that come only this time of year, the contrast, it wouldn’t be nearly so shattering.

Do you have a story about a friend seeing spectacular fall foliage for the first time?

A close friend from Idaho came out with his 10-year-old daughter in early October last year. One from Alaska the year before that. The colors are brilliant in their parts of the world, too, but those aspens, like poplar here, are more one-dimensional. They were staggered by the spectrum. And then, on both occasions, it rained like a bastard and the wind ripped. And it got quite muddy and cold, and cranky. And they were happy to go home.

Show us you enjoyed this content by becoming a newspaper subscriber.

We use a Facebook Comments Plugin for commenting. No personal harassment, abuse or hate speech is permitted. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer. We moderate every comment. Please go to our Terms of Use/Privacy Policy "Posting Rules and Interactivity" for more information.