By Greta Close, contributing writer
Newcomers and annual visitors alike flocked to the Mad River Valley this weekend to experience this year’s foliage.
“We’ve been wanting to do a hike in this area for a while and why not do it with all the foliage,” said Aidan Scanlon and Jason Nachamie, a couple from Burlington, Vermont, who were out hiking Lincoln Peak at Sugarbush on Saturday, October 9.
Though Vermonters dotted the landscape, the abundance of out-of-town cars told a different story. Bearing Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York plates, it was clear this weekend invited many from surrounding states to enjoy our natural colors.
“This is my first time being here at all,” said RJ, who travelled up from New Jersey with friends. “I’m enjoying it, there’s a lot of great colors, a lot of great views,” he remarked, impressed by the widespread and vibrant foliage.
Vermont’s Green (turned purplish-red) Mountains attract people from across the Northeast region, many for whom it has become an annual pilgrimage – a tradition that marks fall’s colorful transition from memories of warmer weather to the onset of winter.
The leaves are beautiful,” said Chris of Boston, Massachusetts. “We were up here last year around this time; we try to make it an annual thing.”
Chris, RJ and many more enjoyed Sugarbush Resort’s Community Day last Saturday. The event featured foliage chairlift rides up the Super Bravo Express Quad, live music and a host of food offerings.
“To come up here, have a live band going on, pizza making, there’s fires going; it’s real nice,” said RJ.
While visitors enjoyed the day’s activities, those more familiar with Vermont’s annual foliage reflected on this year’s leaves in comparison to seasons past.
“The leaves are great, better than last year,” said Aidan. “Last year there was that one big storm and all the leaves fell off right away. This year it’s held for three, four weeks,” added Jason.
At Mad River Glen where Single Chair foliage rides were offered and General Stark’s Pub was open, there was a steady stream of people riding the chairlift up and walking down or walking up and riding down, or hiking in on the Long Trail to ride the lift down on both Saturday and Sunday.
MRG’s marketing and events manager, Ry Young, said great weekend weather and near peak foliage brought a lot of leaf peepers to The Valley and reported steady traffic both weekend days as well as an incredible closing weekend for General Stark’s Pub.
Sugarbush spokesperson John Bleh echoed what Young said, noting that there was an incredible turnout last weekend due to peak foliage, good weather and events that attracted crowds.
“Compared to last year, which you might think is an off year but was actually fairly busy as far as lift rides were concerned over this past weekend (it was the only weekend all summer we offered them last year), we saw about four times as many lift rides,” Bleh said.
Close is a UVM student participating in the Community Journalism Project which pairs student writers with. Vermont community newspapers.