A recent blog comment by my good friend Ron Dearth about leaf peeping time in Maine sparked some wonderful autumn memories, particularly of our property on beautiful Crystal Lake. I have included below an edited short article from the New York Times that features one of my favorite Maine foliage spots.
Autumn foliage in Japan is almost as popular as the cherry blossoms during the spring. The Japanese maple leaves and other vivid fall foliage colors are spectacular! The amazing transition of a radiant green landscape to a scene of brilliant flaming red surrounded by yellow, brown, orange and some green leaves is almost magical.
With pandemic conditions in Japan comparatively better than elsewhere in the world, life in Tokyo is returning to a more normal state and Keiko and I are considering a trip during an upcoming long weekend holiday in November.
The Japanese government has created a “Go To Travel” campaign to help stimulate the economy by promoting in-country tourism. It features reimbursement of up to 50% of transport, hotels and tourist attraction costs. In addition, prices of Shinkansen bullet train ticket fares have also been cut in half.
We are searching for a pet-friendly Ryokan, a traditional Japanese style inn to enjoy the spectacular fall foliage at a hot springs destination.
Enjoy leaf peeping time!
Autumn in Maine (by Melissa Coleman | NY Times) ––
Grafton Notch State Park is home to many hiking trails that are great for viewing the splendid autumn colors
A fall excursion to Grafton Notch from Portland, Maine, includes not just colorful swaths of foliage, but a Shaker community, a ghost and a stretch of the Appalachian Trail. The area’s glacial gorges, waterfalls and caves add further intrigue to the predominantly beech, birch and maple forest. Not to mention, a fall drive and hike support both sanity and social distancing.
The hour-and-50-minute trip from Portland begins with 10 miles of surprisingly vibrant leaf peeping on Maine’s primary artery, I-95 North. At Gray, Route 26 North heads inland to New Gloucester where it passes the last active Shaker community in the country, founded on Sabbathday Lake in the late 1700s. Though closed to the public for 2020, the historic buildings and farmlands of Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village can still be easily viewed from the car.
Next comes the township of Poland, namesake of the Poland Spring bottled water company and home to the Poland Spring Resort. It is also the territory of a ghost called the Route 26 Hitchhiker, which is said to manifest as a young lady wearing a fancy dress. It’s rumored she died in a roadside accident on her wedding or prom night, and while she may ask for a ride, she’ll likely disappear from the car before reaching the destination.
Past the Oxford Casino and views of distant mountains, Route 26 parallels the Little Androscoggin River through Paris to Snow Falls, a popular pull-off for the waterfalls and picnic area. In Woodstock, the Mollyockett Motel is named for a Native American Algonquin princess who is the source of many legends. The mountain views and foliage increase around Greenwood, birthplace of L.L. Bean’s founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, and home to the Mt. Abram Ski Area & Bike Park, popular in fall for the lift-accessed mountain bike trails.
Food and lodging can be had in Bethel, founded in the fertile Androscoggin River Valley in 1796, and at the Sunday River ski resort in nearby Newry. Continuing through Bethel on Route 26 North, The Good Food Store and Smokin’ Good BBQ (try the smoked beef brisket or pulled pork/chicken on a bun) is a popular stop. From there, expect excellent foliage on the last stretch to Bear River Road and the 12 miles of the Grafton Notch Scenic Byway leading to the Appalachian Trail parking lot. On the way, Mother Walker and Screw Auger falls are worth a visit, and Grafton Notch Campground on the Bear River is a great option for overnight camping.
The Appalachian Trail parking lot in Grafton Notch State Park connects a number of hikes, including one of the toughest sections of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail: the Old Speck summit, elevation, about 4,180 feet, the fifth highest point in Maine, which can be reached on a 3.8-mile hike.