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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fall Foliage Scenic Drive - Central Vermont Area

This fall foliage scenic drive in Central Vermont offers some of the best views in the Green Mountain National Forest.

This scenic drive is a loop tour of about 150 miles. It follows mostly Route 12 south from Montpelier to Woodstock, before heading north on Route 100 and 100B back to Montpelier. There's a whole bunch of surprises on the way, but it's no surprise you'll experience some magnificent fall foliage views all along this scenic drive.

The tour is best done over the course of a weekend or several days, although it's possible to do the drive in one day and forgo many of the attractions and rambles suggested.

Let's get going...

Start from Montpelier, a small city on the northern fringe of central Vermont. Montpelier can be easily reached from Interstate 89. Montpelier is 182 miles from Boston and 198 miles from Hartford.

Take Route 12 out of Montpelier and head south to Northfield Falls. Northfield Falls has four covered bridges and the famous Falls General Store. Vermont has some of the finest examples of covered bridges anywhere in New England, but two of them in Northfield Falls can be seen at once, as you look through one to other. This is unique in New England and definitely worth taking the camera out to capture.

Continue on Route 12 making your way to Bethel.

Bethel is one of those Vermont towns that's a natural part of the scenery. Could this be why it's home to the White River National Fish Hatchery? The hatchery focuses on restoring Atlantic Salmon to the Connecticut River. It's open 8:00am - 3:00pm daily.

From Bethel you'll continue your last piece of the southern route to Woodstock.

The Woodstock area offers a number of attractions, including Billings Farm and Museum, and Quechee Gorge. Woodstock itself is one of those picture-perfect Vermont villages that's fun just to stroll around checking out the boutiques and restaurants.

The Billings Farm and Museum was established in 1871, and today it's a working farm, and a museum depicting farm life in the late 1800s.

Quechee Gorge is Vermont's little Grand Canyon. Not quite as big a hole in the ground as in Arizona, but at a mile long and plenty of hiking and walking trails on offer, it's a chance to stretch the legs and admire the splendid scenery. Be sure to walk to the picnic area overlooking the falls.

The next 20 miles of the scenic drive takes you cross country on Route 4 to Killington. Killington is a world famous ski area that covers six mountains. And at over 4,200' offers spectacular views from the summit. There's very few better places to appreciate the fall foliage than at the top of Killington Peak. If it's running take the K1-Gondola from base. You can ride the Gondola daily from September 24 - October 10th.

Killington is about the half-way point in this tour, and with the beautiful town of Rutland close-by plenty of lodging if you decide to linger overnight. Just be sure to make reservations during the peak fall foliage season.

The next section of the tour follows Route 100 as it borders the Green Mountain National Forest. You'll pass through the towns of Pittsfield, Hancock, Granville, and Waitsfield as you cover perhaps the most scenic views and diverse terrain you'll see on this drive.

Just North of Hancock and close to Route100 on Route 125 is Texas Falls. The trail to the falls is an easy hike and offers marvelous views anytime of the year, but especially during fall foliage season when the colors dazzle.

The larger of the two waterfalls is Moss Glen Falls just north of Granville a few miles up from Hancock. The drive from Hancock towards the falls is a two-lane winding road that passes through a seven mile stretch of untouched wilderness, and worth taking slow and easy.

The final leg of this central Vermont scenic drive from Granville to Middlesex and back to Montpelier continues to provide startling scenery and great photo opportunities. Route 100B connects with Route 100 just south of Moretown village, and you'll take 100B north to Middlesex and then join Interstate 89 for the quick hop back into Montpelier.

Vermonters quip the state really has five seasons - spring, summer, fall, winter, and the famous mud season. But my personal favorite in Vermont is the fall. Take this tour and you'll understand why.

About the Author

Look for other articles in this series of fall foliage scenic drives. Or if you can't wait you can pick up the complete scenic drive free report containing these and other New England scenic drives, along with detailed route coverage and attractions, at his New England vacation guide site.

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