5 fall gastronomic trails to follow before the end of the season

There is a lot to love about fall. There is freshness in the air, the leaves take on brilliant hues of red, orange and gold, and it is the start of the cozy season. Weather sweater, if you will.

But what makes fall so sweet can quickly turn sour once winter sets in. Those chilly days can quickly turn nasty, where the most comfortable sweater in the world won’t hold up. The sun is setting earlier, there is ice and snow where those colorful leaves were, and you stopped smelling your fingers 10 minutes ago.

That’s why it’s important to get out there and enjoy the best of fall while you can. And the best thing about fall? The food, of course. Before the end of the season, hike these food trails and enjoy them even more.

Photo by Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock.

The pie trail

Let’s start with the best of the best. After all, what would Thanksgiving be without a pie? On this trail, you can enjoy different toppings, crusts, and debate toppings throughout the day. Start to Mrs. Lena’s pies, an institution about an hour from Little Rock that has been serving pies for years. Try the lemon ice cream pie or a slice of coconut cream for a classic flavor before hitting the road again and heading west. You’ll take a detour around Little Rock, striking Coffee 1217 in Hot Springs (for a seasonal hit, try the Caramel Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie) before heading north through the Ozark National Forest and ending at Cliff House Inn near Jasper. Its house specialty is the Coming Pie of the Company, in a meringue, pineapple and whipped cream crust. Enjoy a slice while admiring the view of the tree foliage, knowing you are falling well.

Photo by Adrienne Legault, Shutterstock.

The Vermont cheese route

Gathered by the Vermont Cheese Council, there are over 50 stops you can make along this trail. The Vermont Cheese Trail will take you across the state to sample a variety of cheeses made from cow, sheep, and goat milk. TO Barn First Creamery in Westfield you’ll find varieties of goat cheese, including Quinby, a brie-style cheese, and Cowles, an ashy goat. Fairytale farm cheeses in Bridport offers sheep’s milk cheese, including a spicy saffron and pepper for a savory hit. Nothing but curd in Troy has, of course, curd cheese of all kinds if you’re looking for a fresh, squeaky batch. It’s always a good idea to call ahead before visiting places, as some farm tours are by appointment only.

Photo by Photo Spirit, Shutterstock.

The apple cider donut trail

When apples are in season, there is no such thing. Crunchy, sweet and tangy, they are a delicious fall snack. And what better way to celebrate the humble apple than by squeezing it, making batter with it, and frying it into a perfect golden donut? This trail will take you from central Virginia to the northern border, with fried goodies waiting for you at every stop. Start to Mama Crockett’s Cider Donuts in Lynchbourg. From there, head north, stopping at farm stalls along the way until you reach the Apple house in Linden, where you’ll want to try the cinnamon and apple butter donuts. Finally, you will follow the path north again, until the Mackintosh Fruit Farm near Winchester. Pick your own apples and enjoy a glass of chilled cider (or an apple cider float) to celebrate a hard day of travel.

Photo by Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock.

The cider loop

If you prefer your fermented apples, we’ve got you covered. The Cider Loop in Washington State takes you to three cider houses where you can sample hard ciders while relaxing on farms and orchards, taking in views of the Pacific Northwest. From Finnriver, you can try contemporary and heirloom ciders that celebrate traditional brewing methods and ingredients. Of the, Alps fire makes cider from apples grown in its organic orchard, offering different styles and special seasonal versions. End the trip at Eaglemount Wine Estate, which serves not only ciders but also wine and mead.

Picked: A Fermented Trail

When are not pickles in season? Fall is a particularly good time for fermented foods, as pickling is a great way to preserve a bumper crop for the winter months to come. So take out the brine and head to this pickle trail for some delicious treats. You can customize your own itinerary for traveling around the state, but there are a few highlights worth stopping by. Butcher’s market in Newport offers local pickled vegetables, including pickled beets and a classic sauerkraut. B’s Pickles at Quakertown Farm and Flea Market has been a local institution since the 1930s. And you can’t miss Marthe in Philadelphia, a restaurant specializing in vegetables, natural wine, cocktails on tap, sour beer, cheese and, of course, pickles.

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