Mt. Mansfield State Forest, Vermont
CLOSE YOUR EYES and picture fall glory in Vermont’s north woods. It’s the sort of scene that’s equally austere and comforting: blazing tunnels of crimson and amber leaves, high-elevation balds filled with alpine tundra, huge moose browsing at the water’s edge.
It’s not all going away, but it will change. Scientists are already noting the slight uptick in temperatures in Vermont, which has given rise to bark-boring pests that attack hardwoods. Ashes, birches, and, most notably, maples are dying off, and, though scientists can’t say when they’ll disappear from the landscape, it will likely happen within the next few decades. Alpine tundra, the state’s rarest ecosystem, may follow. Moose may migrate away.
Cheer yourself up by experiencing Vermont the way nature intended on the 28-mile segment of the Long Trail from Bolton to VT 15 (leaving a car at both locations). It’s a roller coaster, gaining 9,500 total feet—including a 2,600-foot grunt up Mt. Mansfield, the state high point—but there’s no better section for notching big views from tundra-topped summits. Do it in three days, overnighting at Twin Brooks (scan for moose here) and Sterling Pond Shelter ($5). The Long Trail has its charms in every season, but autumn’s sensory overload is the best—for now.
TRAILHEAD Bolton Notch Road (44.3838, -72.9147) SEASON Year-round PERMIT None CONTACT greenmountainclub.org