Fall’s tells are plentiful. There are the shorter days, crisper air and the expanded gourd selection in supermarkets. Suddenly squash becomes chefs’ go-to side dish and on the sweeter side, everything from bagels to lattes becomes pumpkin-flavoured.
But nothing is more emblematic of autumn’s embrace than peeping foliage ablaze in a rich palette of reds, oranges and yellows. Leaf looky-loos plan vacays around to-die-for scenic hikes, horseback gallops, and hot air balloon rides to drink in nature’s dazzling seasonal pageantry. There are better ways to view fall's changing leaves from beyond the windshield of your car. These are just some of travel's more tantalizing ways to get your foliage fix.
Golf At Sugarloaf, Maine
Autumn awesomeness appreciation lesson No. 1: ripping a golf ball 300 yards down the fairway between a fiesta of foliage in the colourful throes of a seasonal downshift beats peeping on that same leafy pageantry from a car window by a country mile. Play Maine’s <a href="http://www.sugarloaf.com/" target="_blank">Sugarloaf</a>, a heavily forested Robert Trent Jones Jr. masterwork in the fall and you might just be inspired to start packing a paintbrush in your golf bag.
Vortex Meditation In The Sedona Mountains
Whether you believe in masculine and feminine energy fields and their mystical healing powers or think it’s a load of junk aimed at open-minded, new-agey boomers trying to rekindle memories of their childhood magic eight ball, vortex tours are well worth the cash for the jaw dropping views alone. In the fall, the canyons' massive red rocks and trails are flecked with stunning leaves of contrasting colours creating a metaphysical wonderland.
Pheasant Hunting In The Dakotas
From the blazing orange hunter caps and vests to the colour palate of the ring-necked beauties themselves, pheasants and fall colours are birds of a feather that flock together. The Dakotas are prime upland bird territory and <a href="http://www.huronsd.com/" target="_blank">Huron, S.D</a>., home of the world’s largest pheasant, a 400-foot roadside attraction, is pheasant fanatic central. Nov.7 to Nov.9 will mark the 16th year of the Huron Ringneck Festival competition and the 12th year of the Bird Dog Challenge.
Ride the Rails On A Scenic Train
All aboard, leaf peepers.<a href="http://www.gsmr.com/" target="_blank"> The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad</a>'s fall foliage tour provides a prime perch for viewing sugar maples, poplars and oaks in full autumn spectrum from banana yellows to fiery crimsons. Other panoramic and romantic leaf scoping day trips can be had riding the <a href="http://catskillmtrailroad.com/" target="_blank">Catskill Mountain Railroad</a> or the <a href="http://www.thecog.com/" target="_blank">Mount Washington Cog Railway</a>.
Canoeing In The Adirondacks, New York
This six-million-acre park in Northern New York State boasts one of the longest seasonal shifts in the Northeast. With 700 lakes, ponds and rivers, there’s everything from placid flat waters to the rushing rapids of the Hudson River Gorge for your paddling pleasure. For a wilderness experience, check out St. Regis Canoe Area recreational waterway adjacent to the towns of Brighton, Harrietstown, and Santa Clara.
Zipline Boyne Falls, Michigan
Free fall through a canopy of exhilarating fall colours on a Zipline tour. Zooming along a steel cable at 20-25 mph on a <a href="http://www.boyne.com/ThingsToDo/Zipline_Adventure/index.html" target="_blank">Boyne Mountain or highlands adventure</a>, tree covers tend to swirl together in a kaleidoscope of seasonal flare and offer a unique leaf peeping vantage point coupled with an adrenaline rush.
Biking The Berkshires, Western Massachusetts
Feel the crisp air as you pedal through vibrant forested New England towns on a cycling tour through the Berkshires. Keep the colour-watching theme rolling with gallery pit stops at the Norman Rockwell Museum, the world’s largest trove of original works by Massachusetts’ best known painter. Keep peddling along and make a stop at the Clark Art Institute, currently exhibiting a collection of two centuries worth of landscape masterpieces through Jan. 31, 2014. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudiriet/" target="_blank">Rudi Riet</a>
Get A Sugar Maple High Hiking Algonquin Park, Ontario
At Ontario’s <a href="http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/" target="_blank">Algonquin Park</a>, Canada’s leafy national emblems display their most flattering hues from mid-September to mid-October. In the ensuing weeks it’s the Aspens, Tamaracks, and Red Oaks' turn to shine before the whole lot dulls during November. For the full experience consider an overnight in a cabin or <a href="http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/camping/yurts-in-algonquin-park.php" target="_blank">yurt</a>.
Cruising by Trees, Portsmouth, N.H.
Lonely Island’s “I’m on a boat” may poke fun at rap video clichés, but peeping fall colours starboard offers a spectacular vantage point. Eat some chowder from the galley while scoping out the inland treeline on this tidal estuary along the Cocheco River into Dover (tide dependant) or the Great Bay on a<a href="http://www.portsmouthharbor.com/cruises.php" target="_blank"> Portsmouth Harbor fall foliage cruise</a>. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/aon/" target="_blank">angela n.</a>
On a Mile-High Swinging Bridge, Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina
Pair the elevation thrills of traipsing across this galvanized steel engineering marvel with the aesthetic comfort of the fall palette in the gorge below. America’s highest suspension footbridge is also wheelchair accessible. While at Grandfather, be sure to check out their seven environmental habitats where cougars, black bears and river otters roam.
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