Fall’s return brings with it the delicious anticipation of refreshing crisp breezes, cooling temperatures, and—most of all—vibrant displays of sun-burnished leaves. Here, our readers share their favorite spots for viewing magnificent fall foliage.
My favorite vacation spot in the United States is Door County, Wisconsin. It is a charming peninsula in the northern part of the state that I fell in love with the first time I visited. It has become a ritual for my husband and me to travel there each fall. There is something special about exploring all the picturesque little towns in the area.
Egg Harbor has a waterside park where you can see spectacular red, orange, and gold leaves. The scene changes, as does the color of the water, depending upon the location of the sun in the sky. There is a one-hundred-year-old inn in Fish Creek, where we go for fish boils. It is a cozy place to sip beer and wear a plaid flannel shirt. In Ephraim, there’s a quaint white church, and old white houses ascend up a hill. The foliage resembles layers of flowers, and the contrast with the buildings nearly takes your breath away. Sister Bay boasts an authentic Swedish restaurant where little goats graze atop the roof! Ellison Bay looks like a traditional fishing village, with gorgeous bluffs overlooking the water. Each time we make the trip to Door County, it is harder and harder to leave this tranquil paradise.
ARLENE KOKTAVY—Northfield, Minnesota
My husband and I have toured New England in the fall, and we never thought the beauty there could be matched until we moved here, to the Pacific Northwest. We had heard about the charming Bavarian hamlet of Leavenworth, Washington, so for our anniversary, we went for a drive there in autumn. It is a delightful community with wonderful shops and a friendly atmosphere. As we left town, we headed west on Highway 2, through Tumwater Canyon, and were amazed at the splendor that greeted us! Rivers of brilliant scarlet, yellow, and orange foliage spilled down the hillsides, all around us. The colors were reflected in the river that flowed alongside the road, dazzling us at every turn.
We made many stops that day so that I could take photos, and we noticed several professional photographers along the route, recording the same scenes. I use the pictures I took as screen savers on my computer to remember that glorious trip.
DENISE PARKER—Spokane, Washington
My best friend, Linda, and I try to make an annual event of hiking the nature trails of Goll Woods, in Archbold, Ohio. This State Nature Preserve consists primarily of virgin woodlands. Several different paths, with names such as Tulip Tree Trail, provide a variety of scenery from year to year. One trail has many ancient pine trees, while another has a creek that meanders beside it. Some people say the woods are haunted. And although it is true that Native Americans once roamed and hunted here, to me this is a friendly forest, with much room for imagination. Bur oak, basswood, walnut, hickory, elm, ash, beech, and maple trees showcase a stunning array of fall hues. The ferns, flowers, birds, and wildlife are outstanding, as well.
Our walks have become a tradition my friend and I both look forward to, even though each one means another year of our lives has passed. We share conversations about the joys and sorrows we have experienced throughout the past twelve months, finding comfort in the familiar surroundings and a friendship that has spanned more than a decade. Linda and I are both empty nesters now, enjoying the freedom that affords, along with the pleasures of grandparenting. Hiking in Goll Woods provides a most pleasant way to spend an autumn afternoon.
ROSE HOFFMAN—Archbold, Ohio
The beautiful Lake Wallenpaupack area, in the northern Pocono Mountains, is my favorite fall-foliage spot. Here, the peak viewing time usually coincides with the Columbus Day weekend, in mid-October. Lake Wallenpaupack, the largest lake in northeastern Pennsylvania, is surrounded by beautiful rolling hills. These are a treat to behold in any season, but fall is special. The variety of hardwood trees means there is always a mosaic of glowing reds, golds, yellows, and, a bit later, the bronzes of majestic oaks.
For those who like to immerse themselves in the woods, there are wonderful hiking trails through Promised Land State Park. Horseback excursions and boat rentals are available, and a small airport provides air tours. The farmers’ markets are jammed with fat orange and yellow pumpkins; crisp, juicy apples; fresh cider; Indian corn; and jars of jams, jellies, and relishes. Little shops in all the small towns of the region are filled with gorgeous wares, and festivals abound. I could never imagine not being here in autumn!
KATHRYN VENNIE—Hawley, Pennsylvania
Northern Minnesota is known more for snowdrifts and evergreens than for fall foliage, but this is an oversight that is unmerited. My favorite place for taking in the glories of the season is at home, where an evening walk is a balm for my frayed nerves. It begins in August with the olive-gold crispness of the little willows and the blond of musky hay bales dotting the fields—fall is coming! By September, ash, poplar, oak, and maple trees join in with their own show of brilliant color. When it’s gray and wet outside, the leaves are stark against the black wood of the trunks. On clear days, a gold patina illuminates everything, blending the hues into a warm mélange that soothes against the coming chill like a cup of hot broth. The grass, no longer heated to pliability by the summer sun, is coarse beneath my feet. I hear a short whisper with each footfall, mingling with the evening chatter of birds and insects or the occasional honking of an early flock of geese en route to their vacation homes down South.
Before long, cold air will choke the life from all vegetation except the hardy pines and balsams. But year after year, I manage to forget this is all the harbinger of another long winter, relishing instead the amber days of autumn in my own backyard.
ERIN JOHNSON—Northome, Minnesota