Published on September 27th, 2013 | by Charu Suri
5 Unusual and Scenic Fall Foliage East Coast Drives
It’s the time of year when we yearn for leaf peepers, apple cider and cinnamon spiced lattes. A great road trip does more than inspire: it’s a tone that you set in your mind for months to come. I’ve driven for years along I-95 and thought that there must be more to fall foliage than a long and winding interstate and luckily, there are. Here are some unusual scenic fall foliage trips to try on the East Coast.
This scenic drive was suggested to me by a lifelong resident of the state. Technically in the Midwest, M-22′s 116 mile stretch of road curves along the countryside of three Michigan counties. Polish off the drive with a visit to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, one of the most beautiful spots in the country (Good Morning America viewers actually called it “the most beautiful spot in America”).
Route 6 offers over 400 miles of spectacular foliage scenery. It is also a less traveled road ensuring you can enjoy the solstice and tranquility of the Pennsylvania countryside. Don’t be afraid to stray from the trail because you’ll find State and National Forests surrounding beautiful lakes just minutes from the route. Shop at the pop-up Farmer’s Markets selling fresh corn and pumpkins from the fall harvest and relax with a hot cup of fresh cider. Throughout your drive you’ll also see fall festivals, camp grounds and diners known for home cooking especially for travelers to rest and rejuvenate. You can do the Route in a day or a weekend: it depends on your road trip style!
The Adirondack mountains give you that Ansel-Adams like glimpse into idyllic life; Route 30 will make you fish out that DSLR and go lens crazy. Route 30 is one of the less traveled roads through the Adirondack. The 24-mile road is flanked with a fiery autumnal display. If you drive down the western shore of Indian Lake, you’ll catch the reflection of the surrounding mountains on the rippling waters. We took this drive when I was a child to upstate apple and pumpkin farms along the way where we picked our own produce and enjoyed horseback riding
As a prior resident of Chattanooga, TN I can honestly say any drive through Tennessee is gorgeous no matter the season. In the fall, there’s a certain Southern magic that brings the golds, oranges and greens together with some quiet harmony. Start your drive in the neighboring town of Chattanooga called Gatlinburg and drive to Cherokee, North Carolina for an inspired ride. The Newfound Gap Road runs along the Smokey Mountains and offers jaw-dropping views and vistas. The ride is only 51 minutes over 31 miles. This link offers specific landmarks and vista points, and other resources for your drive down from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC. The route was closed due to a landslide but has recently reopened.
Love wildlife and fall foilage? Although a more-traveled route, the three hour drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenondoah National park can hold the excitement you’re looking for. Expect to find woodland animals from deer, black bears and wild turkeys regularly cross the 105 mile road. The speed limit is set at a low 35mph down the entire drive to ensure the safety of the animals and drivers. Along the curvy roads adorned with wildflowers you’ll pass an astounding 75 overlooks of the Valley to the west and Piedmont’s gorgeous hillsides to the east. Should you want a closer look at the foliage or wildlife it’s always safe to pull over for a closer look but it’s in your best interest to leave your windows rolled up and locked.
If you’re under the impression that a fall foliage trip can get pricey, take a look at some shoulder season properties from Flipkey that are truly affordable luxury, like this one in North Topsail Beach, N.C which is $7,500 in mid-August through October compared to $15,000 per month normally. Even if you rented for a fraction of the month, the trick is to get creative with accommodations that could give you some of the most beautiful foliage vistas you’ll see.
– Reported Jay Dee