Mountains of foliage fun

Sunday River's Chondola runs during summer and fall for mountain biking and scenic lift rides.
Photo by Nick Lambert
Sunday River's Chondola runs during summer and fall for mountain biking and scenic lift rides.
By John Holyoke, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 31, 2012, at 11:40 a.m.

Some folks have the whole Maine leaf-peeping game down to a science.

Some drive to their favorite leafy spots — often near a hill or a hiking trail — dismount, and head to a scenic overlook to ooh and ahh over the scenery.

Others drive a familiar route that’s sure to show off all the autumn hues that the Maine woods are famous for.

If you’re looking for some not-so-traditional leaf-peeping options this fall, here are a few mountain-oriented options, courtesy of Sunday River and Sugarloaf resorts.

Some of the suggestions will involve activities that may be new to you. Some may not. But one thing’s certain: The foliage in the Maine mountains is so spectacular, you’re sure to see plenty of it just getting to Newry or Carrabassett Valley.

And then, the adventures can truly start.

Ethan Austin, the communications manager at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley, said there are several great ways to enjoy the foliage at the resort. One of the best — and one that many might not think of first — is to pick up your clubs and participate in a traditional summer activity in the fall.

“Conditions are at their best at the Sugarloaf Golf Club and the views are simply spectacular (and the bugs have all gone away),” Austin said in an email. “This year our rates are reduced to just $59 for 18 holes due to some ongoing construction, so it’s a great opportunity to check out what the course is all about.”

Golf not your thing? Well, you’re in luck: Sugarloaf also offers scenic lift rides every Saturday and Sunday throughout the fall.

“[The lift rides] offer some of the best foliage views in the state, particularly on the ride down,” Austin wrote. Lift rides are just $12, or $10 for those who are season ski pass holders.

Want something more active? Grab a bike.

“Mountain biking has really taken off here over the past few summers, thanks to the Carrabassett [New England Mountain Bike Association] group, and with the cool temps and great views of fall, it’s an incredible time to come check it out,” Austin wrote. “Best of all, it’s completely free.”

And if you’re up for some more intense adventure, Sugarloaf’s got that covered, too.

“Obviously, the Appalachian Trail is right in our backyard here, and fall is my absolute favorite time of year to hike — cooler temps, spectacular views, and great sleeping weather if you’re overnighting it,” Austin wrote. “And again, completely free.”

Sunday River in Newry also offers plenty of great foliage-watching options.

Darcy Morse, the director of communications at the resort, offered up five adventures that would be fun even if the foliage wasn’t spectacular … which it will be.

  1. Scenic lift rides are offered Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. By using the hybrid “Chondola” lift, guests can choose to ride to the top of North Peak in an open-air six-person chair, or inside an eight-person gondola cabin. Once atop the mountain, more than 12 miles of hiking and geocaching trails. Lift rides are $12 for adults, $8 for those age 6-12, and free for those 5 and younger or 80 and older.
  2. Zipline tours are offered Thursdays through Sundays at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Reservations are encouraged (call 800-543-2754); the cost is $49 per person.
  3. A nine-hole disc golf course was opened during the summer, and players are guaranteed a breathtaking course come fall. The course is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.; access to the course is $5 for a nine-hole round; disc rental is another 45.
  4. Traditional golfers may want to hit Sunday River Golf Club, which is open seven days a week.
  5. The Sunday River Bike Park can utilize the Chondola service to access the top of North Peak and some of the 30 trails that stretch over 20 miles. Bike rentals are $80, while park tickets cost $29 for those 13 and older and $18 for those age 12 and younger.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/08/31/outdoors/mountains-of-foliage-fun/ printed on July 22, 2014