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New fall foliage destinations for leaf peepers

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The death of summer leads to one last, glorious explosion of visual excitement in the way of fall color before the frost, freeze and eventual blanket of winter blanches the land — at least north of Texas, where autumn days can be outdoors-enticing warm and the nights cuddle-by-the-fire cool. If a foliage tour sounds dreamy, read on. These days, there’s a leaf-peeping offer for every sort of traveler, indolent to active.

HIKE INN-TO-INN IN COLORADO

Link two picturesque Colorado mountain towns on foot in a new inn-to-inn hiking offer between Crested Butte and Aspen. Rest up at the Nordic Inn in Crested Butte, then head upcountry for the 11-mile trip over West Maroon Pass through russet meadows, pine-covered hills and yellowing aspens backed by the stunning Maroon Bells peaks.

In addition to gaping at the scenery, you’ll test your fitness; the trail starts at more than 10,000 feet and gains roughly 2,000 before dropping down again. In Aspen, check into the central Limelight Hotel and soak in the hot pools while gazing up at the mountains.

Helicopter and limo transfers are available on the way back. The high country gets snow early, of course, so only expect to hoof it until early October. Otherwise, pack your snowshoes. The itinerary is also available in reverse.

Details: From $299 per person; 800-542-7669, www.nordicinncb.com.

CLIMB A TREE IN CONNECTICUT

There’s no better way to get intimate with a tree than to climb it. Appreciate autumn in its full glory with Tree Climb Connecticut near Hartford in Manchester. Anyone game between ages 7 and 70 can take an adventure climb, in which instructors show you the ropes — yes, literally — teach you the knots, give you a saddle and let you go amid 2 1/2 acres of walnuts, oaks and maples.

Those with more than a passing interest in the sport can sign up for the one-and-a-half-day recreational tree-climbing class, Sept. 14-15, Oct. 19-20 and 26-27, and Nov. 9-10. Come out of the trees for a night at the state’s most luxurious resort, Winvian, on 113 acres in the wooded Litchfield Hills area, where cottages feature wood-burning fireplaces.

Details: Tree climbs from $60; 860-836-1216, www.newenglandtreeclimbing.com/connecticut.html. Winvian rates from $750; 860-567-9600, www.winvian.com.

ZIP THROUGH IT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Catch the pine and maple forests in a blur of green, orange, yellow and red on New Hampshire’s longest zip-line tour at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in the state’s northern White Mountains.

The tour offers riders a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding woods in nine separate lines, plus two suspension bridges and three rappelling sections to boost the adrenaline rush.

The classic 1902-vintage hotel offers a range of other outdoor options amid the foliage, including an 18-hole Donald Ross golf course, fly fishing on the Ammonoosuc River, mountain biking and hiking.

Details: Doubles from $229, zip-line from $89; 603-278-1000, www.omnihotels.com.

SAVOR THE SEASON IN VERMONT

The new rustic-chic Hotel Vermont in Burlington makes a fetish of all things Green Mountain State, especially its famed maples that flame up the banks of Lake Champlain and the surrounding Adirondacks.

Like the fleece blankets, wood paneling and Vermont Teddy Bears in the rooms, the bar and restaurant are hyper-local. Toast the season with a cocktail from Juniper Bar’s seasonal selections, blending locally made vodka with maple sap and apple cider.

By peak color time, the hotel vows its farm-to-table restaurant, Hen of the Woods, will be open for further culinary explorations of the seasons. Between meals, cycle it off with a loaner bike.

Details: Rooms from $229; 855-650-0080, www.hotelvt.com.

TOUR DE LEAVES IN NEW MEXICO

Take the slow road to the foliage show in a weeklong bike tour of northern New Mexico, home to golden cottonwoods and aspens, desert greenery, and dramatic rock mesas. Bicycle Adventures’ Sept. 29 departure is timed to capture peak color in a seven-day trip from Albuquerque up through the chain of mining towns known as the Turquoise Trail, north to arty Taos and into the high desert country made famous by painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

Make sure you’re ready to handle 50 to 60 miles in the saddle per day. Your payoff: a last-day trip to the equally colorful Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Details: $3,395 per person, all inclusive; 800-443-6060, www.bicycleadventures.com.

TAKE A DRIVE IN NORTH CAROLINA

There’s no denying the appeal of a classic cruise through color country. In Asheville, epicenter of North Carolina’s High Country, the Grand Bohemian Hotel gears up guests for drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway, where stands of oak, hickory and tulip trees turn golden and give way to more colorful buckeye and ash trees at higher elevations.

The chef will pack a gourmet basket highlighting local farm produce for picnic stops. Or take the tour on foot. In addition to the picnic, the hotel provides maps and birding guides to nearby sections of the Appalachian Trail.

Details: Doubles from $394 per night, including picnic, breakfast and maps; 888-717-8756, www.bohemianhotelasheville.com.

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