Right Place, Perfect Time: Showiest Fall Colors

Hit the leaf jackpot on these classic footpaths.
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Hit the leaf jackpot on these classic footpaths.

Everyone wants to hike amid the Northeast’s autumn splendor. But let others drive around chasing a few knockout hillsides, while you tackle an epic 90-mile trek that follows the colors as they peak from north to south.

Historically, the symphony of reds, oranges, and yellows from sugar maples, birch, and beech trees reaches a crescendo atop the 3,000-foot-plus Green Mountains around Columbus Day, then flows down the valleys during the ensuing week. Your plan: Link the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail and keep pace. Start on the Saturday before Columbus Day (October 10, 2011) from Lincoln Gap (nine miles from VT 116 on Lincoln Road), and hike southbound for 47 miles. Intersect the Appalachian Trail at Maine Junction (resupply at the Inn at Long Trail, .5 mile south) and follow the AT east (northbound) for 43 miles to the Connecticut River (at White River Junction on I-91 N). At a moderate pace, you’ll finish in nine days, on the following Sunday, which maximizes vacation time if you get Columbus Day off.

Map GMC Long Trail Guide ($19, greenmountainclub.org) Infogreenmountainclub.org; innatlongtrail.com