The arrival of autumn signals more than shorter days and crisp nights. As the season turns, the landscape literally morphs into a kaleidoscope of red, scarlet, orange, gold and butter hues that blaze across mountains, hills and valleys, creating a visual feast similar to a painter’s palette.
And while this spectacle really makes you want to hit the road in search of beguiling vistas, remember new adventures always abound and sometimes the best way to appreciate something, is to take the unconventional route!
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Before this year’s foliage gets in full swing, Quotient beats to the seasonal rhythm and unveils five cool ways to savour Mother Nature’s most photogenic autumn displays.
Gallop your way through USA‘s bucolic Northeast
New England, the region comprising the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, has been grabbing the spotlight as one of the most popular autumn foliage destinations in the United States for decades for good reason.
From late September to late October, autumn takes over, creating a bright palette of crimson tints in the omnipresent thick forests, inspiring adventurers to see this free nature show not only as a bystander but to also actively participate in activities such as boat cruising, gondolas rides to a mountain top or boarding a steam train.
But few activities embody the authentic American experience as vividly as being astride the saddle. Horseback riding opportunities are available at Mad River Valley in Vermont, where guided trail rides on sure-footed horses allow you to explore beautiful meadows and forest tracks set against the famous Green Mountains range. Over in New Hampshire, Franconia Inn and Charmingfare Farm also welcome novice and experienced equestrians to explore wooded trails and sunny pastures while taking in the ultimate tranquillity of the mountain scenery.
Experience Japan‘s koyo from a vintage train and wooden boat
It’s well known that travellers have been flocking to the “Land of the Rising Sun” to take a glimpse of the beautiful colourful leaves or “koyo” phenomenon for centuries. Here, the hunt for nature’s vibrant colours begins in late September or early October and lasts till early December, when maple and gingko trees’ heavy branches display dramatic red-orange tints.
To capture the striking image of Japanese autumn, head to Arashiyama, on the western fringes of Kyoto, where you can hop on the old-fashioned Sagano Romantic Train or Sagano Torokko, which runs along the Hozugawa river. Travellers generally take the train up to Kameoka from Arashiyama, enjoying the awe-inspiring vistas of the mountain scenery and forested canyons at a slow pace, from open-air carriages.
Once you arrive in Kameoka, there is an opportunity to return to Arashiyama via a boat ride traditionally named “kawakudari” and bask in the serenity of the Hozu Valley, which will unveil plenty highlights such as colossal boulders, mysterious deep pools, wildlife and intriguing geological formations.
Take to the skies in Piedmont
Italy is incredibly delightful for its heterogeneous landscape, rich history and superb cuisine, and although there are endless opportunities to visit it year-round, there’s nothing like experiencing an auburn autumn in the alpine region of Piedmont, bordered by France and Switzerland.
With an intoxicating combination of gastronomy, fine wines — the region is the producer of the world-renowned Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera red wines — and breathtaking countryside, Piedmont easily wins the hearts of many travellers.
In the cooler months of October and November, the autumnal wine harvest makes the countryside extremely dynamic with vibrant celebrations and festivals such as the renowned Alba International White Truffle Fair from 11th October to 15th November 2015. This is also the season when the leaves gradually change their colour and grapes are ripening so experiencing a bird’s eye view from a hot-air balloon to fully bask in the landscape from an evocative perspective.
Enjoy a dose of forest bathing in Switzerland
Even though Switzerland’s sybaritic St. Moritz might steal the limelight from neighbouring alpine towns, the unique valley of Engadine is not short of gems for nature enthusiasts. Surrounded by imposing mountains at every turn, this valley is famous for beautiful scenery, sun-drenched villages and a wealth of hiking trails that stimulate the senses, making it the ideal European destination to witness gorgeous autumn colours set against cerulean skies.
To fully connect with nature, take the barefoot trails at Celerina (that’s right, hiking boots are not allowed here!), where not only will you be treated to some of the most stunning meadows and forests, but according to the Swiss wellbeing manifesto, also get invigorated, strengthen your vitality and boost your immune system!
Pedal through Caledonian forests in the Scottish Highlands
Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park spans the high plateau of the Cairngorms as well as many quaint villages, imposing castles, serene lochs, ancients forests and whisky distilleries; with its unique mix of landscapes, the area is really known for its natural beauty. In autumn, leaf peepers are even more spoiled for choice as the park changes its colours dramatically and the skies become a canvas for orange and purple brush strokes. Here, there are numerous opportunities for cycling, from mountain biking on wild trails to dirt road cycling and touring through ancient Caledonian pine forests and heather-covered moorlands backdropped by some of the highest mountains in Scotland.