New England Leaf Peeper Trip October 2021

Seeing the fall foliage in New England is one of the most spectacular and iconic trips you can take. Dorie and I took off to do some leaf Peeping in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine and were lucky enough to hit the peak color.

We flew to Portland ME then drove to Kennebunkport ME to start the trip. The plan was to stay in Bed and Breakfasts Inns along the way and the B&B we stayed in here was great, and within walking distance of the little seaport village. Some of the old sea captains’ mansions were amazing to see. We did not have time during this trip to stop and say hello to the Bush family. (click any slide)

The next day we toured southern New Hampshire, seeing Laconia, Hanover, and Lebanon. Outside Laconia was Mount Major which offered spectacular views of Lake Winnipesaukee. The original route I picked to hike was plastered with no trespassing signs and hazard tape, forcing us to take another route. This path up was steeper and farther than what I had planned, but the hike was great. We took another easier route down. Along the drive were typical fall scenes of streams, mills, and farms, all surrounded by color. The B&B we stayed in was just over the state line into VT. The chef specialized in breakfast which was great.(click any slide)

The next stop was Salisbury Vt to meet up with Janet, one of Dorie’s closest friends from high school. On the way we did a little hike down Vermont’s “Little Grand Canyon”, the Quechee Gorge. It is only 168 feet deep, a few feet shy of the ~6,000 feet real Grand Canyon. But the water, granite rocks and foliage made a beautiful hike. Another stop close by was the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. VINS is a bird rescue center as well as a nature center. They specialize in raptors, and they put on a very nice program featuring a red-tailed hawk and a red winged hawk that were rescued but injured badly enough they cannot be returned to the wild. They’ve become permanent education ambassadors. We stayed at Janet’s house, and she gave us a tour of the local Middlebury area.(click any slide)

Next came the beautiful Stowe VT. We’ve skied this years ago and actually honeymooned there, but we could not remember where. The hike up the Cliff trail to Mt Mansfield started out steep, rocky and wet, then got worse. When we reached some difficult Class 2 maneuvers, Dorie decided to wait it out at the gondola hut. It’s a good thing she did because just beyond, there was a place that iron handholds were placed in the rock. I had to grab it and chin over the huge boulder. That was OK but, on the way down having to swing over the boulder was sketchy. Once on the ridge and reaching the iconic VT Long Trail it was an easy walk to the summit. The drive around Stowe was the most colorful section of the trip. That evening we had some nice German food and beers at the Von Trapp Bierhall.(click any slide)

With the next stop at Mt Washington NH, we thought we were going to take the cog railway up for a unique experience. Well, it was sold-out, so the next option was the motor toll road. It was a weekend and very crowded. Way too many people and terrible drivers on the narrow, guard rail-less winding road. On the mountain, there were lines waiting to take selfies at the top cairn.  On the way down one driver flipped his car, luckily on the mountain side not the cliff side. Leaving the mountain and driving through Franconia Notch was beautiful.(click any slide)

Our longest day drive was from Conway NH to Bar Harbor ME. We got a chance to see some covered bridges and lots of stuffed scarecrows set out for Halloween along the route. Bar Harbor was a cute, expensive little village. Arcadia National Park surrounds the town and is a popular tourist area. We hiked Cadillac Mountain, supposedly where the continental US first greats the sun. It’s another mountain with road access for cars and buses so we started early, but not a sunrise early. This was a very steep trail leading up, then a class 2 scramble down to a gorge and back up again. The trail itself consisted of a lot of granite steps. On the way back I snagged Mt Dorr as a little bonus peak. Fall colors surrounding Bar Harbor were pretty.(click any slide)

We proceeded along the Maine coastline first to Camden, Rockport, Rockland, and then to Booth Bay Harbor. The seaside towns were postcard like harbors and villages. We hiked to the Owl’s Lighthouse in Camden. Dorie’s friend Janet recommended the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Booth Bay for a unique experience. Not only were the gardens pretty, but they had 5 25–30-foot wooden sculptured trolls that were the highlight of the little hike. They are the guardians of the seeds and are made from recycled lumber.(click any slide)

Finally, the last day was in Portland. Lobster lunches and dinners were on the agenda. During the trip we saw deer and turkeys, but not a moose. So, at the Portland airport Dorie posed with one before leaving. The trip, foliage, hikes and seaport villages were every bit as spectacular as we’d thought they’d be.(click any slide)

2 thoughts on “New England Leaf Peeper Trip October 2021

  1. What an awesome tour, Jack. Great photos and narrative helped transport me to these wonderful places. Hopefully, Judy and I can plan a similar trip next year.

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