6 Vermont Fall Drives a Little Off the Beaten Path
September 03, 2014
During foliage season, there are so many Vermont fall drives to choose from that it’s pretty hard to go wrong. Whether you go leaf-peeping on a meandering scenic byway or quiet dirt road, you won’t have to look very far to find glorious autumn beauty in Vermont.
Still, it’s nice to find alternatives to Vermont’s most popular leaf-peeping highways and byways. Route 100 and Route 108 are fantastic during the fall (or any other time of year), but there are many lesser known roads worth exploring between late September and mid-October in Vermont.
Here are 6 Vermont fall drives to explore this foliage season:
Ascutney to Woodstock – Route 44A/44 to Route 106
Mount Ascutney is easy to see from Interstate 91, but this 3,144-foot peak deserves a closer look. Route 44A (also called Back Mountain Road) takes you through the woods of Ascutney State Park in Windsor County and joins Route 44, where you’ll travel west through West Windsor and onto Brownsville. From the road you’ll see old ski trails from Mount Ascutney. The ski area closed in 2010, but the mountain is open to mountain biking and includes a 3.7-mile Auto Road from Ascutney State Park to the summit. Follow Route 44 west until it intersects with Route 106, which takes you through the beautiful towns of Reading and Woodstock.
Getting there: From Interstate 91, take exit 8 to Route 131 east, to Route 5 north. Follow signs for 44A. The drive from Route 44A to Route 106, which ends at the intersection of Route 4 in Woodstock, is about 22 miles.
Georgia to Underhill: Route 104A to Pleasant Valley Road
This is one of those routes that makes you feel like you’ve stumbled upon something new and undiscovered. There are so many highlights to this route – from old school houses, farms and town halls to stunning views of Mount Mansfield. Just when you think you’ve seen the most beautiful part, it just keeps getting better. Pleasant Valley Road, located between Cambridge and Underhill, is the final part of this wonderful scenic trip (see my post “The Most Beautiful Road in Vermont”). A tip for fall foliage seekers – take this route in the early morning hours or in mid-afternoon as the best views are to the east.
Getting there: From Interstate 89, take exit 18 to Route 104A to Route 104. Take Fletcher Road to Cambridge Road to Pleasant Valley Road, which ends at the Underhill Country Store in Underhill. The drive is about 28 miles. From there you can continue south on River Road, which takes you to Route 15.
Landgrove to Danby: Danby Mountain Tabor Road
Looking for a fall drive that feels a little more rugged? Try the Danby Mountain Tabor Road between Landgrove and Route 7 in Danby. The road crosses through the Green Mountain National Forest and provides access to the Appalachian/Long Trail for hiking. Closed in the winter, Danby Mountain Tabor Road in the fall has a little bit of everything – scenic views, wildlife, hiking trails, and an endless canopy of colorful, tall trees.
Getting there: From Route 100 in Weston, take Landgrove Road to Little Michigan Road to Danby Mountain Tabor Road Number 10. The mountain road is about 16 miles and takes you to Route 7 in Danby.
Danville to Peacham: Peacham Road
Peacham is one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever seen. Located in the southern end of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Peacham is said to be the most photographed town in New England. I can certainly understand why. By Northeast Kingdom standards, Peacham isn’t exactly off the beaten path compared to some other communities. But if you’re looking for something new this foliage season, put Peacham on your list. The dirt roads, rambling farmhouses, sweeping views, and classic village scene are worth the drive.
Getting there: Take Route 2 east to Danville, and turn south on Peacham Road to Bayley Hazen Road and travel for about 7 miles to the village. Even though it’s a short drive, there’s plenty to enjoy once you’re there.
Waitsfield to Warren: East Warren Road
Just off Route 100 in the Mad River Valley is East Warren Road, where you’ll find gorgeous views of the Green Mountains. Start your drive in Waitsfield on Bridge Street and pass through a one-lane covered bridge before coming across some of the best views in Vermont. Along the way you’ll see an historic round barn, pastures, farm houses, open fields, Sugarbush and Mad River Glen ski trails, and plenty of gorgeous color.
Getting there: Take Bridge Street to East Warren Road and follow for about 5 miles. East Warren Road then becomes Brook Road and ends at Main Street in Warren. Route 100 is just around the corner from Main Street in Warren.
Chester to Townshend: Grafton Road/Route 35
I have a soft spot for southern Vermont, and this area is one of the reasons why. Grafton is a popular destination in the fall, and getting there is half the fun. From Route 11 in the lovely town of Chester , travel south on Route 35 to enjoy a beautiful autumn drive. Once you arrive in Grafton, stick around to explore the village, which is home to the Grafton Village Store, Grafton Village Cheese and the Grafton Inn. Continue south to Townshend on Grafton Road or Route 35, which eventually take you to Route 30 in Windham County.
Getting there: Take Grafton Road/Route 35 south from Route 11 in Chester for seven miles. From Grafton, travel south to Townshend on either Grafton Road or Route 35. Depending on which way you go, the entire ride is around 17 miles on Grafton Road or 21 miles on Route 35.