Fall Foliage Nirvana and the Quintessential Vermont Inn
In 1949, a former U.S. senator from Vermont, struck by the timeless beauty and isolation of his state’s three most northeastern counties (Orleans, Essex, and Caledonia), dubbed them the Northeast Kingdom, and when foliage flames each autumn, they could very well be ] thickly forested hills of sugar maple, beech, the most beautiful place in America.
Here, I and ash give way to sleepy hamlets, one-church villages, and gorgeous lakes – particularly the fjord-like Lake Willoughby, often compared to Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne. The unofficial gateway to the region is St. Johnsbury (“St. J”), but look on your map for alternative spots like Peacham (pop. 611), probably Vermont’s finest Kodak comer during foliage season. Keep driving until you get lost, through wide-open valleys of tidy farmlands where cows once outnumbered their proudly insular Yankee owners.
Harsh winters and sheer isolation have kept development and tourism farther south, and when fall’s riotous palette of red, orange, yellow, and gold cloaks these hills, you might feel as if you’ve happened upon a very well-kept secret. Back roads and lanes make this a paradise for cyclists as well, either on your own or on an organized inn-to-inn tour.
In the high country area of historic Craftsbury, Inn on the Common is one of the state’s loveliest and most romantic hostelries. Situated on 10 acres that abut one of New England’s most beautiful town greens, it was a labor of love by the husband-and-wife innkeepers who set out to create the perfect New England getaway and succeeded impeccably.
The Inn’s three Federal-style buildings (only one of which actually overlooks the common) date from 1790-1840, and its renowned restaurant and impressive wine list warrant a reservation. For the winter-sports-inclined, the inn is right on the Craftsbury Nordic Ski Center’s well-regarded 110-km trail.