Killington, Vermont Shamrock Tour®

Text: John M. Flores • Photography: John M. Flores

"Long ago, the Great Bear wandered freely throughout the sky. His massive paws took him far across the unlimited ceiling of the world. He hunted and fished, finding food there in the many rivers of the sky. All throughout the first spring he did this, until his belly was full and happy." -Iroquois Legend of the Big Dipper

Wandering the roads, rolling mountains, and quaint villages of Vermont is a treat made extra special by the fireworks of fall foliage. But on this morning in early October it's not the 30-degree temperature that shocks as much as the lack of color - trees past their peak, naked branches reaching for the cold sky. Still, the ride must go on so its kickstands up and electrics on. The journey begins.

Day 1 - Journey's Start

"He did not know that three young braves had discovered him feeding that spring. They sought his pelt and meat to feed their families in the long winter that they knew was coming soon."
- Iroquois Legend of the Big Dipper

I ride south of Killington, following a stream alongside a slender lake, and rambling through the picture-perfect towns and villages of southern Vermont. There is a rumble and clatter in the sky above Ludlow, where a trestle of iron and steel carries the Green Mountain Railroad. Red CL306 is pulling a handful of vintage passenger cars. It looks like a great way to take in the scenery. Sure there is yellow and gold as well as the occasional red, but there's also a lot of brown and a surprising amount of green - evergreens, trees that have not begun to change color, and the grass that doesn'st know winter is on its way.

In Wilmington I join the Molly Stark Trail for a run east. It's a playful romp as the road is rarely straight, but slow-moving leaf peepers keep a lid on corner speed. A brigade of them falls from the mountains into the little town of Brattleboro, clogging the main arteries like my gutters back home. I grab a quick bite at Amy's Bakery Arts Cafe. Looking out the back window I can see across the Connecticut River to Wantastiquet Mountain. It's solid green, bar a handful of trees. Maybe I haven't missed the peak after all.

The afternoon is spent in the lands adjacent to the Connecticut River, including a dip into New Hampshire. The fading light of the afternoon sun brings some of fall's colors forward. There is a hill painted a patchwork of reds and yellows, and a small hardware store painted like the red of a nearby tree. The temperature is dropping as quickly as the sun, and the chill of night sneaks into the shadows and shade. It's time to snap some photos and then find dinner.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the May/June 2011 back issue.