Locals share their favorite leaf-peeping spots
As autumn descends on western Maine, the question arises as to where to find the perfect prospect for taking in the reds, yellows and oranges of fall, in and around one of New England’s best foliage towns.
When “Yankee Magazine” this year ranked Bethel as the second best foliage town in New England, the magazine relied on its writers and editors, as well as tourism professionals, to determine the best foliage towns and spots; but “Yankee,” based in southern New Hampshire, but didn’t have the opportunity to ask leaf lovers here.
So we did.
Bethel residents are not at all shy about offering their own views. Both “Yankee” and local residents agree the views around Sunday River and Grafton Notch are lovely, but there are still plenty of other leaf-peeping hot spots scattered through our part of Western Maine.
They range from from the mountains to the shores of lakes and rivers, to the heart of Bethel village itself.
There’s so many places,” said John Carter, of Bethel.
One spot that popped into the minds of residents was Paradise Hill.
Wende Gray said it’s beautiful there because the local foliage is set against a spectacular backdrop of the White Mountains.
Lucia Schwarz agreed, noting that Paradise Hill also affords great views in all directions.
The ultimate stamp of approval? “It’s been used by L.L. Bean in the catalog,” said Gray.
Mount Will offers another elevated outlook.
It’s a tough hike, Gray said, but offers more than just a look at the leaves.
“It’s more interesting, because you actually see the village,” she said..
For yet another hilltop view, Fran Head, of Gilead, suggests Swan Hill, looking towards Grafton Notch.
“That’s spectacular,” she said.
For something unique around Sunday River, Caroline Gould suggests Jordan Bowl. The road is steep, she said, but it offers the chance to see around the mountain and into New Hampshire.
“That’s the most impressive,” said Gould.
And there’s any number of spots in the mountains, said Mike Steven like Grafton Notch, Evans Notch and Eyebrow Cliff.
Venturing out on the open road, just a few miles from Bethel, offers more choices views.
Nancy Thew, of Upton, suggested Wind Song Location, off of Route 26, and also the views along Route 17 heading north.
“Those are some pretty views,” said Thew.
East Bethel, with its farmscapes and views toward Sunday River, can also be lovely; and for visitors on motorcycle, the ride out the Intervale Road and back on the East Bethel Road, with its gentle rises, dips and curves, has the added charm of a relaxed, almost hypnotic rhythm.
Aside from the roadside views and hikes, Carter said, local shorelines are especially beautiful in the fall checking out the foliage from the water is a prime place.
There's the Androscoggin flowing through, of course, but Mike Steven prefers the still waters.
“I like to take my kayak out on Lake Christopher or South Pond.” he said.
The search for foliage doesn’t even require people to leave the village.
“I never go looking for foliage,” said Kathy Kuckle.“It’s right here.”
Just wander the common, or on the Bethel Inn golf course and you'll be greeted by spectacular fall colors.
“Bethel’s just a pretty town,” said Schwarz.
And “Yankee” is predicting that the color in New England's Number Two foliage town will peak in late September/early October