Even as this last chapter of another spectacular foliage season nears completion, the closing lines are yet to be written. Pockets of splendid color remain, particularly in southern areas of the state, while roadsides and village greens are still punctuated by standout trees in striking hues that beckon passersby to stop and photograph. The spotlight has turned to late-turning species like oak, aspen, birch and tamarack, whose crimsons, coppers and golds are enhanced by the rich bronze of beech trees, which stubbornly hold onto their leaves through winter.
Even as branches are bare in much of the forest, leaves on the ground create mosaics of color underfoot (not to mention prime conditions for jumping in a freshly raked leaf pile). This is also the time of year when the woods open up to the eye again and exploring off trail becomes more inviting. Not only can you enjoy the lingering fall color, but also the many details of the forest that you just can’t see in the thick green of summer. Venture through almost any stretch of Vermont woods this time of year and you’re likely to discover cellar holes, stone walls, or remnants of fences and pasture trees that summon earlier generations who lived on and worked the land. As we part ways with the vibrant color of fall and look forward to snow-covered adventures in winter, savor this special in-between season and explore the woods around you.
Take a hike on or off trail this week. Explore abandoned foundations, settlements, and stone walls in your favorite patch of woods or at Little River State Park or Bomoseen State Park, or find a trail near you.
If you haven’t been to one before, check out one of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Management Areas. Department WMAs conserve and protect over 130,000 acres of land representing some of the state’s most unique natural communities and habitats. And don’t forget your fishing rods! From small trout streams and beaver ponds to undisturbed marshes and shorelines of large lakes and rivers, combining a hike and a fishing trip makes for a perfect fall day outdoors.
Vermont’s Forest Stewards
There’s so much about forests that is easy to take for granted, including a genuinely endless list of ecological and economic values and powerful benefits to human health and wellness. It’s also easy to take for granted the fact that forests are even here. Fall foliage is a colorful annual reminder that our forests wouldn’t be vibrant and plentiful today without the many individuals who live and work in them, from foresters and loggers who responsibly manage our woods and the producers who work with them to provide the many wood products we rely on, to the tens of thousands of private landowners in our state who look after and love the places they live. Thank you to all the forest stewards who help keep Vermont forests strong and beautiful.