You really have to see the North American Fall season to fully appreciate why people all over the world dream about it. Here, leader Graham Stenger takes us through the spectacular heart of New England in the Fall.
This tour is a wonderful mix of sightseeing and walking in the mountains. It begins in the very European city of Boston, where we follow the Freedom Trail which highlights the history that led to the battle for Independence from Britain. To get used to the American way of eating, we stop off at the famous Quincy Market, where there is a food hall to behold (hang onto your waistline!).
Switching the city for the coast, we visit an enchanting small seaside town. For the first three nights of the tour we stay in one of the US’s ‘Historic Hotels’ in Salem. The town is famous for its witchcraft trials, and when we return from Rockport there is still time to visit some of the museums to allow you to further understand the background to the trials.
On the the next leg of the tour we transfer to Bretton Woods in New Hampshire. As we travel north you start to see a marked difference in the colours of the trees. We stay at the renowned Omni Mount Washington resort, which is surrounded by a sea of colours and mountains.
The wonderful thing about staying at Bretton Woods is the change in the colour you will see each day, especially if there are frosty nights. The walks during our stay showcase this part of New Hampshire at its best, with options to visit waterfalls, take a ride in a chairlift and wonderful walks that provide breathtaking views. You need to keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready, as you are now in bear and moose country! By the time you leave, you may have to release the belt another notch, due to some of the best breakfasts you will ever have at a hotel!
We move on to the picture postcard town of Stowe in Vermont. It’s said that 85% of the state is covered by forest and that the population extends only to about 626 thousand souls.
At Stowe the programme covers a lovely mix of high and low level walks, the latter includes a visit to the Von Trapp estate, where you can explore some of the myths surrounding the Von Trapp family and their escape from Austria. The mountains are a “must visit” and we spend two days there, both of which provide wonderful views.
Stowe is one of those places where you long to linger and soak up more of what the town and surrounds have to offer, but move on we must to Jay Peak, our last port of call., a ski resort tucked just under the Canadian border. Once booked in we undertake a short walk to see the handiwork of the local beaver community, then the next day have the option to walk to the summit of the mighty Jay Peak.
During our stay at Jay we are able to offer two levels of walk as we have a guide provided by the resort. Hank is his name, and boy can he talk, especially if it relates to mountains and the local wildlife, and we are talking bears and moose again. The final day’s walking offers either a trip to one of the nearby lakes for an ‘up and over’ walk with fantastic views over the lake, or a visit to the Devil’s Gulch, where on a good day (or is it a bad day?) they say it’s possible to converse with the Devil!
When the final day comes, you will be asking yourself why the time has gone so quickly. Sadly, we have to leave Jay Peak and travel to Montreal where we will have time to visit Mount Royal and the Old Town. There’s also the option for a touch of speed, as we can choose to head to the Formula 1 race track for a journey around the circuit in a bus – it’s quite surreal!
If asked what I consider to be the best day, I would have to say it would be Day 1, because, having led the tour a number of times, I am anticipating the pleasures that lie ahead – and I can’t wait until the next tour!