Autumn in Maine:
So much to fall for
AUGUSTA, Maine - Planning a fall
foliage trip to Maine? Here's what you need to know. The leaves
show their color first in the extreme north, then in the western
mountains and central valleys, and lastly in eastern,
coastal and southern locations. When does foliage reach its peak?
That's up to the weather, which can speed up or delay the transformation
of leaf pigment due to a number of factors. Peak foliage can't
be predicted, but one thing is certain: anyone visiting Maine
from the last week of September to the third week of October
will see trees showing off the yellow, orange, red and purple
hues that have made Maine the top destination for leaf-peepers.
Here are a few more reasons why
Maine is so popular in the fall, and some suggestions on how
to enjoy the dazzling display of colors throughout the state.
~Strength (and more color) in
numbers: With 17 million acres of forest, Maine has more land
covered by trees than any other state in the country. Maine's
coastline, inland valleys, rivers, lakes and mountains are home
76 tree species, 52 of which are the hardwood leaf-producing
variety. Autumn's most photogenic stars like the sugar maple,
oak, elm, birch and ash are all native to the state. Even the
Maine Turnpike is lined with
beautiful foliage during October.
~Drives with a view: Maine's
nine state and national scenic byways take travelers through
some of the state's best locations for viewing foliage from the
road. In the western mountains region, the Rangeley Lakes National
Scenic Byway begins on Route 17 in Byron and traverses north
to its namesake waterway. The must-stop turnout along this route
is about 10 miles in at Height of Land. This panoramic overlook
offers a view of five lakes
and the colorful mountainsides that surround them. In northern
Maine, the State Route 11 Scenic Byway winds between two mountains
and two lakes and follows the Fish River to the historic town
of Fort Kent.
~Ride the rails: For those who
need more leg room or a glass of wine while taking in Maine's
foliage, there's a passenger train waiting at the station. Maine
Eastern Railroad serves the state's Midcoast region between
Brunswick and Rockland with a fleet of restored Art Deco-era
excursion trains. Day trips depart Wednesday through Sunday and
offer some of the best foliage viewing along Maine's world-famous
rocky coast. Visit www.maineeasternrailroad.com
or call 866-637-2457 for more information. In central Maine,
the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad Preservation Society
operates a passenger train on an eight-mile stretch of rail between
towns of Unity and Burnham. Riding behind the 1913 Swedish built
steam engine "Spirit of Unity," travelers can enjoy
the spectacular scenery on rides Thursday through Sunday. For
more information, call 207-948-5500 or
~Great parks with great hikes:
It's no accident that Maine's state parks are located in some
of the state's most scenic coastal and woodland settings. Here
are a few that offer excellent hiking trails through and to
fabulous foliage. Bradbury Mountain State Park on Route 9 in
Pownal near Freeport, Camden Hills State Park on Route 1 in Camden,
Mount Blue State Park off Route 156 in Weld, Grafton Notch State
Park on Route 26 near
Newry, and Aroostook State Park off Route 1 near Presque Isle.
For more information on these and other state parks or historic
sites in Maine, visit www.maine.gov/doc/parks.
~The fruits of fall: Leaves aren't
the only colorful attractions dotting Maine's landscape during
autumn. Farm stands and orchards offer pumpkins, gourds, fresh
pressed cider and a variety of delicious apples. Many farms
offer hay rides, corn field mazes, animal petting areas and other
activities for children. To find a farm or orchard near a foliage
destination, visit www.getrealmaine.com.
~Leaf-peeper central: Maine's
best resource for foliage updates, information and travel suggestions
The Web site is operated by the Maine Department of Conservation
and provides a weekly
overview of foliage conditions throughout the state beginning
the third week of September until Oct. 25. A foliage forum allows
locals and visitors to share their observations about the annual
changing of colors. Also featured on the site is "live help"
which will be available during the season to answer foliage-related
For more information about accommodations
or events taking place in Maine this fall, log on to www.visitmaine.com
or call 1-888-624-6345.
North Star Orchards is a destination
MADISON, Maine - Plump orbs in shades of scarlet may
be what North Star Orchards is known for, but orchard owner Judy
Dimock says apple sales are just one piece of the businesses'
"What we are really offering is an experience," explains
Dimock, who bought the Madison-based 40-acre orchard with her
husband, Everett, in 1976.
That experience has led the Dimock family -two generations of
which work on the farm including Judy and Everett and their two
children Rob and Jennifer- to expand North Star Orchards into
a harvest season hot spot.
Orchard-goers can explore the exposed beam farm store, cruising
for country home accessories and hard goods from spiced apple
syrup to pie plates or hit the fields for a wagon ride in the
Pick-your-own is a popular pastime at North Star and Dimock explains
that a renewed focus on fresh food among Americans has enticed
more apple eaters down Orchard Road.
"We are dependent on the apples to make people come here,
but once they are here, there is also this other stuff. People
like the idea of picking their own but they come here for the
experience," she says. "We're providing more than apples.
We're preserving a way of life."
The Dimock family's land yields 20,000 bushels of apples each
autumn (a bushel weights 40 pounds) from its nearly 6,000 trees.
Varieties vary from the known like tart McIntosh to crisp Cortlands
to the hidden gems, like Ginger Gold, Paula Red and Gala.
That wide selection means many customers have questions about
what apple is right for their recipe. Dimock lets them sample
and sees the farm store as an opportunity for education.
"The most common question is 'What's the best eating apple
or pie apple?' You really have to take to the customer to see
what they want," she explains.
As fields long farmed for apples are now being replaced by a
new and more lucrative cash crop - house lots, the Dimocks believe
positioning their farm as a destination worth the drive is the
only way to survive.
While many apple orchards participate in Maine's Annual Apple
Sunday, the Dimocks do more.
"People ask us, "When is Apple Sunday?' We say everyday
is Apple Sunday," she says with a laugh.
That means that in addition to free wagon rides on the weekends,
North Star hosts an Applesauce Sunday with demonstrations and
an apple sauce sundae bar and has cider making demonstrations
throughout the harvest season.
And Everett, who is the farm's horticulturist and has a
degree in pomology from Cornell University, takes to the fields
when pick-your-owners are out loading up their baskets to the
brim to explain the intricacies of the fruit.
"I think the consumer is becoming more interested in who
is producing their food. People are finally reconnecting with
where their food is coming from," Dimock says. "They
don't want a Disney-version of how their food is grown - they
want to see the real thing. They want to see the tractor. They
want to see the wagon loaded full of apples. I have a sense that
the buy local rhetoric has finally come to fruition."
While that movement means visits to the farm are up, it has also
brought about an increased demand for North Star Orchards' orbs
in the supermarket produce department. Two-thirds of the crop
is carried at Hannaford grocery stores in Skowhegan, Madison,
Rumford, Jay, Oxford and Farmington and during the selling season,
deliveries are done each day.
The farm also produces 20,000 gallons of cider and 13,000 jars
of apple jams, jellies and syrups which are sold under the brand
name "McIntosh Farm" across New England.
North Star Orchards is open daily
from September through December and on the weekends January through
August. For more information, phone (207) 696-5109.
Keeping fueled for foliage
adventures in Western Maine
Western Maine - A camera with extra film/memory card
and batteries, sturdy footwear and binoculars are essential equipment
for successful fall foliage viewing.
But to really enjoy a day of
touring and trail walking, leaf peepers must also be well fueled.
The Lakes & Mountains Region of western Maine offers dozens
of destinations for foliage lovers, and unique eateries using
local ingredients to fill hungry stomachs morning, noon and night.
Here are suggestions for where
to see the fall colors and where to stop for delicious food and
beverages during autumn in the Lakes & Mountains Region.
Foliage Spots: Mount Blue State Park off Route 156 in Weld, the
Wire Bridge off Route 146 in New Portland, and the Narrow Gauge
Pathway off Route 27 in CarrabassettValley. www.franklincountychamberofcommerce.org
Breakfast: Java Joe's Corner
Cafe, 42 Main St. in Farmington. Specializing in coffees from
Africa, Central and South America and Indonesia, locally roasted
by Carrabassett Coffee Company. Offers more than 10 organic coffee
Lunch: The Orange Cat Café,
Route 27 in Kingfield. Vegetarian sandwiches, fresh salads and
free wireless Internet access. 207-265-2860
Dinner: Hug's Restaurant, Route
27 in Carrabassett Valley. A charming place with popular northern
Italian family recipes, irresistible pesto bread and nightly
dinner specials. 207-237-2392.
Foliage Spots: Singepole Mountain off Route 117 in South Paris,
Snow Falls Gorge on Route 26 in West Paris and Norway Lake along
Route 26 and 118 in Norway. www.oxfordhillsmaine.com
Breakfast: Shaner's Family Dining,
Main St. in South Paris. A large place with a big menu for all
Lunch: The River Restaurant,
Route 26 in West Paris. Soups made from scratch, great pasta
dishes and crab cakes. 207-674-3800
Dinner: Lake House Restaurant,
corner of Routes 35 and 37 in Waterford. Elegant dining with
a great wine selection and delicious desserts. 207-583-4182
Foliage Spots: Screw Auger Falls at Grafton Notch State Park
on Route 26 in North Newry, the Androscoggin River from West
Bethel to Bethel and Route 113 from Gilead to Fryeburg, along
the Wild River, through the Evan's Notch Region of the White
Mountain National Forest. www.bethelmaine.com
Breakfast: Cinnamon Stick Cafe,
Route 26 in Locke Mills. Fresh made donuts and cinnamon buns,
and great omelets. 207-824-5282
Lunch: S.S. Milton, 43 Main St.
in Bethel. Fresh Maine lobster rolls, a Monte-Cristo sandwich
featuring Maine maple syrup, and delicious desserts like Maine
blueberry crisp and Maine apple pie. 207-824-2589
Dinner: The Victoria Inn &
Restaurant, 32 Main St. in Bethel. Maine smoked salmon tartine,
local asparagus with balsamic shallots, and a Maine apple cider
Foliage Spots: Douglas Mountain off Route 107 in Sebago, Keoka
Lake off Route 37 in Waterford and Stevens Brook Trail off Main
St. in Bridgton. www.mainelakeschamber.com
Breakfast: Café DeCarlo,
Main Street in Bridgton. This Internet café and espresso
bar will give a kick-start to your day. 207-647-4596.
Lunch: Bray's Brew Pub &
Eatery, Route 302 in Naples. Great Maine lobster stew, ribs,
salads and American ales brewed on site. 207-693-6808.
Dinner: Olde Mill Tavern, Main
St. in Harrison. Unique southwestern dishes, seafood favorites,
roast pork and other hearty meals. 207-583-9077
Foliage Spots: Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway on Routes
4 and 17 from Small's Falls to Byron with three scenic turnouts,
and Bald Mountain hiking trail from Bald Mountain Road in Oquossoc.
Breakfast: BMC Diner, Main Street
in Rangeley. Opened in 2003, it's the favorite morning spot for
locals, serving large made-from-scratch breakfasts. 207-864-5844
Lunch: Four Seasons Café,
Route 4 in Oquossoc. Good Mexican dishes, vegetarian specials
and a wood stove to ward off an autumn chill. 207-864-2020
Dinner: The Porter House Restaurant,
Route 27 in Eustis. Maine crab cakes with a house coconut curry
sauce and orange pineapple salsa, and Chef/Owner Brian Anderson's
flame roasted corn and Maine lobster soup with potatoes, fresh
herbs and sherry are two local favorites. 207-246-7932
Foliage Spots: Auburn and its twin city of Lewiston act as the
gateway to the Lakes & Mountains Region. For good foliage
viewing head north on Route 4 into Turner and Livermore where
the colors reflect off lakes and ponds.
Breakfast: Rolly's Diner, 87
Mill St. in Auburn. Popular for its made-from-scratch crepes
with five fruit filling options. 207-753-0171
Lunch: DaVinci's Eatery, 150
Mill St. in Lewiston. The best Italian food in the area with
a unique location inside a textile mill built in the 1850s. 207-782-2088
Dinner: Sedgley Place, 54 Sedgley
Rd. off Route 202 in Greene. Five course dinners served in the
relaxing atmosphere of a 1786 Federal home. Fresh local meats
and fish, and vegetables from the owner's 80 acre farm. 207-946-5990
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