Some Areas in the United States to Enjoy Fall Foliage

The end of September is when fall foliage starts to appear in the eastern states in the US, beginning in the more northern states and moving down south as time passes. If you can plan a visit to the New England states for the upcoming weeks, you should be able to see some of the colorful leaves before they fall off the trees for the winter. As you might imagine, some places fill up quickly in the autumn months, so make your plans now while there’s still time.

Growing up in West Virginia, I always loved when the trees turned from green to wonderful shades of yellow, red, and orange, but on the flip side, I somewhat dreaded it because that meant winter was coming. Nonetheless, regardless about how I feel about winter, West Virginia is a perfect place to enjoy the fall foliage. Many people flock to Bridge Day, which is West Virginia’s largest festival held on one day and one of the largest extreme sports events in the world. Bridge day is held every year on the third Saturday in October on the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayette County, coinciding with peak fall foliage in the area. Thousands of people come to this festival to watch as BASE jumpers from around the world jump off the bridge and rappellers go up and down the catwalk. There’s also plenty of things for spectators to do including run a 5k starting on the bridge and ending in Fayetteville. This is just one of many areas in West Virginia you can visit in the fall to experience fall foliage. Others include Huntington, Charleston, or one of the state parks would be a great option as well!

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This was taken in Huntington, WV, when I ran a half marathon there in the fall.

North Carolina also has plenty of places to visit if you want to see some gorgeous fall foliage. For those of you that don’t know, North Carolina can be divided into three basic parts:  the mountains on the west, the central area known as the Piedmont with the capital of Raleigh, and the coastal region on the east. Most people that want to see fall foliage will focus on the mountains in the western part of North Carolina. Western North Carolina is an outdoor-lover’s paradise, with many fun cities to go camping, hiking, fishing, and whitewater rafting. Some of my favorite cities in western North Carolina are Asheville (see my posts:  Camping in Asheville, North Carolina;and Christmas at Biltmore Estate and Exploring Asheville, North Carolina), Boone, and Blowing Rock.

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Gorgeous fall foliage in North Carolina

I’ve visited all of the New England states for half marathons, and I have been to three states in the fall, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. I was in a small town about an hour outside Boston, called Newburyport and loved that part of Massachusetts. The nice thing is you can still do plenty of things in Boston and easily pop over to the quieter areas like Newburyport when you want a break from the traffic and congestion. Rhode Island is one of my favorite states I’ve ever been to and I feel like it’s one of the most under-rated states. I went to Newport and we drove all over that area, stopping in some tiny towns to visit art galleries or local shops. There are also mansions such as The Breakers and Marblehouse that you can tour plus gorgeous beaches all around that area (although it’s definitely not peak beach season there in the fall but that just means they aren’t as crowded). We were in some tiny towns in New Hampshire for the half marathon that most people wouldn’t come to visit, so I can’t speak as much about that, but if you’re in the northern part of the state like I was, it’s a short drive over the Canadian border to Montreal, which I absolutely loved (see my post:  Montreal, a City Unlike Any Other).

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Yellow leaves everywhere (and a little orange) in Newburyport, Massachusetts

Some other states you might not think of when you think of fall foliage are Indiana and Arkansas. I visited both of these states in the fall when I was running a half marathon there, and found I enjoyed both places more than I expected I would. Most people think of Indianapolis when they think of Indiana, home of the famous Indy 500 races, but I was in a small town on the border with Kentucky and the Ohio River called Evansville. The Evansville Half Marathon perfectly coincides with the West Side Nut Club Festival, now in its 98th year (!) and also more recently a taco festival and music festival also occur around the same time in October. Here are links for more information:  Evansville Half Marathon and Nut Club Fall Festival.

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The race start at the Evansville Half Marathon with the fall foliage all around

For my half marathon in Arkansas, I ran the Cotter River Half Marathon, which I absolutely raved about. This was in November, which is a perfect time to enjoy the fall foliage in Arkansas. Although there are some options for things to do and places to stay in the Cotter area, I decided to drive to Hot Springs after the race and spend a few days there. Hot Springs can be a bit touristy in parts, which I usually don’t like, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Hot Springs much more than I thought I would. My family and I went to one of the local bath houses and had several extremely affordable treatments done and we hiked all around the National Park there. For more on the race, see my post, White River Half Marathon, Cotter, Arkansas-44th state and for more on Hot Springs, see my post, Hiking, Bathing, and Admiring Holiday Lights in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

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The back of some of the bathhouses in Hot Springs, Arkansas

I know I left off some places to enjoy fall foliage in the United States because that would be way too long and I haven’t been everywhere, so now your turn, where are some of your favorite, perhaps off-the-beaten path places to enjoy fall foliage that I didn’t mention here? Do you live in a state where there is no substantial fall foliage? Do you travel to see fall foliage?

Happy travels!

Donna

 

 

 

 

 

All Women & One Lucky Guy Half Marathon, Massachusetts- 29th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Massachusetts was my 29th state.

By 2013, I had ran a few half marathons in the New England states VermontConnecticut, Rhode Island, and I had thoroughly enjoyed visiting each state, even if the races were some of my tougher ones. I chose the All Women & One Lucky Guy Half Marathon for my Massachusetts race. As you can tell from the name, this was a race for women, with one “lucky” guy being chosen from a lottery to run in the race. I had never ran in an all-women race before and I was curious to see what it was like.

The All Women & One Lucky Guy Half Marathon was formerly known as the Maine Coast Half Marathon which took place in York, Maine. The new course wound through the streets of Newburyport on the North Shore of Massachusetts. The race organizers said they changed the location of the race because the one in Massachusetts was flatter than the one in Maine, and the race in Massachusetts offered things to do before and after the race and the town had the necessary hotels and inns, restaurants, and retail shops that are vital for a successful race of this size.

Race morning was chilly by my standards, at around 40 degrees at the start and only warming up to 42 degrees when I finished. The course was an out-and-back that started and finished at Newburyport High School, going along country roads winding along Newburyport and West Newburyport, passing two reservoirs along the way. There were around 800 runners so it was on the small side but not so small that I felt completely secluded along the course. Most of the course’s hills were in the first half of the race, with the exception of a gradual uphill near the finish.

At the finish, I received my medal that matched the shirt I had received at packet pickup (both were nice). There was hot soup at the finish to help warm us back up, along with bread, yogurt, bananas, and water. My finish time was 2:04:46.

If you’re wondering what it was like to run an all-women’s race, there was definitely a different kind of vibe before, during, and after the race. I’m not sure I can even explain it other than there was maybe more of a camaraderie kind of feel. We were all friends just out for a beautiful run that just happened to be a half marathon. Not to say that women aren’t competitive and this race was definitely a competitive race, but that’s the best way I can explain it.

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The autumn leaves were beautiful.

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The start was surrounded by beautifully colored trees.

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The finish!

Newburyport is just under an hour driving time to Boston Logan International Airport, which makes it incredibly easy to get to from other parts of the country. We spent the evening before the race in Newburyport and checked out some of the unique shops, but for the rest of our time before and after the race, we were in Boston, a city that is absolutely full of fun things to do.

This was my first time to Boston, so my family and I walked the Freedom Trail and took in all of the history. We visited the Samuel Adams Brewery which turned out to be even more fun than we had expected (they make their own root beer for the younger crowd or non-drinkers). There are multiple running tours, food tours, and brewery tours in Boston, in addition to historical tours. If you’re a baseball fan, a must-do is to check out a game at Fenway Park. If you’re a runner, a must-do is to get your photo taken by the Boston Marathon logo that is permanently painted on Charles Street.

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I may never run the Boston Marathon but at least I can dream

Unfortunately it appears that 2014 was the last year for the All Women and One Lucky Guy race. Too bad! It was a fun one! There are tons of half and full marathons in Massachusetts, so choosing one should be no problem. There is a half marathon in Newburyport in October, so that would be a good choice and you would get to enjoy the colorful autumn leaves and ideal running temperatures.

Newburyport half marathon