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!

20171104_130941
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.

IMG_20181102_155526
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).

dsc01732
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.

IMG_3494
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.

IMG_1656
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

 

 

 

 

 

Dixville Half Marathon, New Hampshire- 35th state

This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. New Hampshire was my 35th state.

Before I chose this race, my daughter’s best friend from grade school had recently moved several states away from us to Vermont. My daughter missed her greatly and kept asking when she could go and visit her. I had already run a half marathon in Vermont (Covered Bridges Half Marathon, Vermont-9th state) but I hadn’t run one in New Hampshire. I knew how close parts of Vermont and New Hampshire can be so I started looking up half marathons in New Hampshire. Beyond belief, I found a race about a half an hour from my daughter’s friend’s house- the Dixville Half Marathon in Colebrook, New Hampshire and I signed up for the 2015 race.

Most people probably have no idea where Colebrook is or what there is to do there. Let me save you the trouble and tell you it is in the far northernmost corner of New Hampshire, bordering on Vermont, and about 45 minutes from the Canadian border. It is a very remote portion of the United States, sparsely populated, with not much to do. I had a very hard time finding a decent place for my family and I to stay, with such limited availability, and there are only a handful of restaurants anywhere within a 20-30 minute drive of Colebrook. However, as I mentioned, Colebrook is close to the Canadian border and Montreal is only about 2 and 1/2 hours away by car. I can’t recommend visiting Montreal enough. The architecture, food, and things to do are all unique and well-worth a visit. See Montreal, a City Unlike Any Other.

The Dixville Half Marathon was a very low-key race as you might imagine, being in such a small town. Most years there have been 100-200 runners for this race. Packet pickup was at Coleman State Park the day of the race. We received a long-sleeve t-shirt of nice quality but nothing extraordinary. It was unisex sized and a bit on the large side for me.

dsc03138-1

Typically, the nights get quite chilly in northern New Hampshire the end of September and I was glad the race didn’t start until 10:30 am, since it allowed some extra time to warm up just enough for nice running weather. The weather was perfect for the majority of the race but it started to get hot by the end, when it was in the mid-60’s.

The race began on Diamond Pond Road but the majority of the course was on Route 26, with parts along the Mohawk River. With the fall foliage at its peak, the scenery was nice as we wound along the countryside at a very gradual downhill descent. Although the course was called “a scenic, downhill course,” there were also many steep uphill portions that were quite difficult. There were views of farms, barns, and pasture but not much else including spectators.

dsc03139-1

The course dropped by about 1,200 feet in elevation, with the last stretch going through town streets of Colebrook and finishing at the North Country Community Recreation Center. In a quite cruel twist, the last tenth of a mile was up a steep hill. One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is this race was so small and low-key it wasn’t even chip-timed. Someone wrote down all finishers’ times, and a portion of each finisher’s bibs were tacked up on a huge board in order. My finish time was 1:57.

All runners had free access to the recreation center to change and take a shower after the race. Since it was a nice day and there was music with a local band playing, I decided to take a shower and change clothes then hang out for the awards ceremony. I managed to finish second in my age group, so I won a silver medal. Medals weren’t given out to all of the finishers; only the top three in each age group.

dsc03165-1

dsc03166-1
The finish (the blue tent)!
dsc03167
How many of you have seen one of these at a race?

I enjoyed this race even though it’s super small in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. It was great weather and the people were friendly and it was just a perfect day to run a half marathon in New Hampshire. Just don’t plan on spending much time here because there honestly isn’t much to do!

The 44th annual Dixville Half Marathon was scheduled for September 26, 2020.  It just goes to show even small towns can keep a race going for many years with enough support!

Dixville Half Marathon