This was not the best year for foliage viewing anywhere in New England because of the rainy and warm fall. Still, this period between the end of leaf-peeping and the first snowfalls can be a great time to visit anywhere in the 6-state area. For example, the crowds are gone from Quechee Gorge in Vermont, making it easier to explore this natural phenomenon known as Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon. You can stop at pull-offs along Route 4 for a quick look, but better still is the walk into the gorge from the Quechee Gorge Visitor Center along a forest trail lined with pines and hemlocks. Quechee State Park encompasses the gorge. The water rushes clear and cold, birds chatter overhead, and all in all, this is a nice time to visit. (vtstateparks.com/htm/queechee.htm)
While you’re in the area, stop at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science Nature Center (VINS), home to eagles, hawks, and other raptors that have sustained injuries that make it impossible for them to return to the wild. (vinsweb.org)
Another must-stop is Woodstock with its picturesque village green–one national magazine has called Woodstock the prettiest small town in the country–and its all-around, all-American look. You’ll find the expected, such as farmers’ markets, and the surprising, such as five bells cast in the Paul Revere foundry–the most Paul Revere bells in any one location in the country.
For a great place to stay and/or dine in the area, check out the Woodstock Inn & Resort — lovely rooms, a cozy bar, and terrific food in the Red Rooster Dining Room. (woodstockinn.com) I also like the Easy Street Cafe and Restaurant in nearby Waitsfield for casual meals. (easystreetmarket.com) Nice people, too — when I inadvertently left my jacket behind, I called to see if they’d found it and they offered to mail it back. It reached home before I did. Now that’s good service!
Next time I want to share the delights of Bennington and Brattleboro and then it’s on to the charms of Maine in late fall and winter.