Here in Northern New England, Columbus Day weekend is the peak time for enjoying the beautiful and vibrant colors of the fall season. The colors have been especially exceptional this year and of the three day weekend, Sunday appeared to be the most promising for photography. Along with the beauty of the season, comes overcast days and a lot of rain. Although we had experienced a cloudy morning, the afternoon was filled with delightful sunshine.
We like to get out at least once during the season for apple picking. I particularly enjoy waiting for later in the season, when the leaves begin changing and the weather gets cooler. There are plenty of apple orchards here in our neck of the woods, but we wanted to switch things up for a change and travel farther to the border of Maine and New Hampshire.
We settled on Pietree Orchard located in Sweden, Maine. As we approached the location of the orchard, traffic was being rerouted due to a running race in progress on the local roads. Although we asked for directions from a friendly cop and plugging the address for the orchard into the GPS, we ended up taking the scenic route, aka getting lost and taking the long way. We asked someone else for directions and after what we thought was simple and direct, we still had to work our way around a lake. This turned out to be quite an obstacle in the pursuit of our destination. This made me think of the old saying here in Maine, “You can’t get there from here.” This saying means it is impossible to get to the place you want, even though you can see it clearly. Mind you, we could clearly view the area on the GPS and we still had quite a time getting around the area. With the lake serving as a minor obstacle, it seemed the orchard was in a far-off location that could not be accessed without extensive, complicated directions. Or, maybe it just seemed like that. We ended up driving around in a huge and unnecessary circle in order to get around the lake. No worries though, because we finally made it to the orchard and on the plus side of things, we figured we had seen some nice areas along the way that we would have missed otherwise.
When we arrived at the orchard, we were greeted by partially cloudy skies, with the promise of the sun making an appearance. In my opinion, I think it gives a few of the photographs below a more dramatic effect. The orchard offered a wide variety of pick-your-own-apples as well as a fun hayride. The orchard was quite full of visitors, but everyone was dispersed throughout the area, so it didn’t seem too crowded.
Arriving at Pietree Orchard.
A pick your own apple sign.
The sign for the hayride pickup.
A dirt road with an autumn view of the mountains.
Apples ready for picking.
Walking through the orchard.
An early cloudy afternoon at the orchard.
A cloudy view of the mountains.
The sun peeking out from the leaves of an oak tree.
After picking our apples and photograph taking, we visited the orchard’s farmstand. This area was quite full of visitors enjoying seasonal treats. Along with fresh fruits and vegetables, the orchard also offered fall favorites such as cider, donuts and other homemade goodies.
A variety of fall vegetables available at the farmstand.
A basket of fresh apples.
A variety of colorful fall gourds.
A pile of pumpkins.
After we left the orchard and our drive continued, we stumbled upon a few spots for photography and we had to stop along the way. I always have an appreciation for these unexpected visual treasures. You never know what you will have the chance to see on quiet backroads.
A field with colorful mountains in the background.
A solitary tree.
Fishing on a beautiful fall day.
As we made our way into North Conway, we had to take a narrow and winding backroad to get there. It is quite a steep drive as you ascend it and the descent is pretty steep as well. I suppose this road is not for the faint of heart. It must be driven on slowly using great caution. It used to be much narrower in the past and will be closed during the winter months, because it isn’t maintained. This was one of my favorite areas of the day. This photograph doesn’t capture how incredibly beautiful this road was. The road was called Hurricane Mountain Road. When we drove up toward the top, both sides of the road were lined with parked cars. Later on, we would discover this is where the Conway Common Lands State Forest is located and all of those parked cars belonged to hikers enjoying a moderate 2.3-mile hike on the Black Cap Trail. Even though the road is gated off during the winter, hikers can still take a challenging two-mile hike to the trailhead. The best time to enjoy the trail is May through October. I think we will wait for next October to return to the area.
This is what it looked like we got into North Conway. They don’t show this scene in the brochures! We had not planned on stopping in the town anyway and I am glad we were driving in the other direction. We had no time to waste sitting in traffic. We were after good lighting.
The following photographs are of our afternoon driving along Route 302. The colors were so bright and beautiful and I couldn’t resist snapping away.
This was another unexpected stop along the way. We stopped at the Willey House. This site had restrooms, a gift shop, and a small museum.
Across the street from the Willey House was the Crawford Notch State Park.
A view of the Saco River.
A view of the bridge located in the park.
The park had nice walking paths and a lake. The area also offered a nice hike and scenic views. I like the way the fall foliage and birch trees were reflecting on the water. This area made for a quintessential New England fall scene.
The last stop of the day entailed a short visit to the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.
The Mount Washington Hotel is located near Mount Washington and was designed by Charles Alling Gifford.
A view of the mountains from the golf course.
The hotel’s appearance is very intriguing and on a larger scale, reminded me of the Stanley Hotel, the Colonial Revival style hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. If you recall, the Stanley Hotel served as the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s 1977 novel The Shining, as well as the filming location for the 1997 TV miniseries, also written by King. I am very curious to see the inside of the hotel and we will have to come back to the hotel at a less busy time.
Despite the fickle weather of the earlier hours of the day, the abundance of afternoon sunshine gave us an opportunity for a wonderful time of autumn views and photography. We traveled about 280 miles in total and had a glorious day enjoying Northern New England during the peak of the fall foliage viewing season.