Vermont offers any number of wonderful scenic drives to see fall foliage. The trouble is the popular ones are…. well-known and therefore crowded for the autumn weekends. This is when most people take the car to see the splendor of the colors, but mostly end-up in major traffic jams – even on the interstates!
The remedy is to find a local to guide you to the smaller routes and village lanes leading to farm fields and forests exploding with vibrant dashes of orange and red. But where to find a local guide? You can’t just go knock on a door can you? Well, I suppose some of you might. Vermonters are a friendly crowd but I’m not sure I’d recommend you do this.
A better solution is to follow a local whose written it down for you – step by step with routes along with what to see. My writer friend Jim Hyde is one such person.
He writes out of Wolcott, Vermont, has his own New England website and knows the state like the back of his hand. His Vermont Fall Foliage guidebook contains many scenic drives and this excerpt covers Bennington to Ludlow an easy day trip from the Connecticut and Boston regions.
Take it away Jim…
Thank you for introduction Cliff. Bennington has a diverse and colorful history. It was the site of an important battle during the Revolutionary War. Bennington and its surrounding communities are rich in the arts (including a collection of Grandma Moses’ paintings), Bennington College, New England history and outdoor recreational opportunities.
Just before entering the city if you’re coming from the west is the Four Chimneys inn and restaurant on your left. It’s a fantastic place to eat and stay. As cities go, Bennington isn’t your typical urban area. It has maintained its “old world” ambiance and 19th Century architecture.
There are a few fast food outlets sprouting up here and there, but its natural beauty coupled with a sense of early 20th Century buildings makes this area a visual delight.
Bennington is also well known for its museums, attractions, antique shops, art galleries, historic walking tours, covered bridges, beautifully revitalized downtown, green mountains and lush valleys, mesmerizing vistas, pristine state parks and scenic campgrounds. Camping in the fall can be a marvelous and wondrous way to enjoy the fall in Vermont, especially if your sleeping bags can handle the cooler nights.
One of the remarks we get the most when people arrive in this great state is how plentiful the stars are at night. The lack of garish urban night lights don’t pollute the sky with an orange glow, and people continue to be amazed as they point out the Big Dipper and Orion with great ease. With its clean air and minimal backlighting, Bennington’s a great place for stargazing. Sitting around a campfire and just glancing skyward gives you a view to uncountable stars. And sleeping in the fresh VT air in a cozy tent will be a welcome reprieve from city or big town life.
It offers quaint roadside stands selling VT products, great restaurants and wonderful lodging establishments. Clean cool waters abound in the area’s rivers, lakes and streams, as well as trout.
To make the trip from Bennington to Ludlow, start on Route 9 to Route 7 North. This is where Super 7 begins. The signage in the city is excellent, so it’s very hard to get lost. On Route 7 as you leave the city proper, you’ll be gently lulled in the valley between the Green Mountains and the Taconic Range in no time.
You’ll want to take Exit 4 on Super 7. From there you want to merge onto Route 11 East at Depot Street in Manchester and head up into the mountains to the east. It will take you past Bromley Mountain and just after Londonderry, you’ll take a LEFT onto Route 100 North. On this route you’ll pass through Weston, at which there are some spectacular lakes where fishing and boating are allowed.
Weston has much to offer, but sadly no longer the Weston Bowl Mill. There they made exquisite wooden products such as salad bowls, cutting boards, wooden utensils and toys, but alas, that has passed into the ages, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do in this lovely town. A visit to the Vermont Country Store will make you feel as if you’ve gone back to a future sometime between the late 19th Century and well into the 20th will all kinds of things you used to love, but have a hard time finding now. When was the last time you had Turkish Taffy?
That is exemplary of the different types of products they’ve taken great pains to find and resurrect in today’s contemporary markets.
One of my favorite places is the Old Parish Church, and there’s summer stock here in the local theatre, but, unfortunately, it does not stay open much past July. But there are numerous inns and wonderful places to stay.
As you continue on Route 100, you’ll see Okemo Mountain and, just at its foothills, the town of Ludlow. Continue on Route 100, which becomes Andover Street. From there, you can turn RIGHT onto Main Street.
Ludlow is a growing town offering a great deal due largely to the growing popularity of Okemo. It’s very much like the town of Stowe, which grew up around Stowe Mountain Resort. During October, there are antique shows, so if you want to do some antiquing, this is one great town in which to haggle over prices with the owners of some wonderful pieces of Americana.
From the top of Okemo Mountain, the views are truly indescribable. With the countryside around it ablaze in color, it makes riding up to the top an absolute must. While there you can visit the Wine and Cheese Depot and Buttermilk Falls.
Thank you Jim and I hope you enjoyed this tour. If you did then Jim’s Fall in Vermont Guidebook has another nine great fall foliage tours covering Vermont along with maps to guide you on the routes. You can pick up a copy of the guide here >>>
In addition Jim has a wonderful website covering New England destinations and you can visit his New England getaways website here >>>
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