Three leaf-peeping, apple-picking, brew-tasting road trips this fall

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 12:00pm

    As we wind down from beautiful 70-degree days into cooler 60-degree days, hints of color are appearing on trees as Mother Nature whips out her paint-by-numbers. Checking the old Fall Foliage Report, here’s a rundown on where to take a road trip in the coming weeks.

    “Typically, northern Maine (Zones 6 and 7) reaches peak conditions the last week of September into the first week of October. The rest of the states progression of color will start occurring from north to south in mid-October. Coastal Maine typically reaches peak conditions mid-to-late October.”

    Maine Highlands

    Head up through Bangor to find Etna Orchard to start, to Conant Apple Orchards. With more than 1,000 apple trees and 20 varieties, this family-owned farm makes their own candied apples and fresh cider as well. Then it’s a liesurely hour-drive up back roads to get to Turning Page Farm, a microbrewery in Monson. If you love farms in the fall, this is a two-fer, as in not only will you get to enjoy a small batch brew, you’ll get some goats to gander while doing so. They’ve got artisanal goat cheese and milk as well as two microbrews on draft, a red ale and a pale ale.

    Down East and Acadia

    Roberts’ Orchard is a small, family-owned and operated apple orchard located in Poland. As you wind your way up to Down East, stop off the beaten path first to pick your own apples (on a cash and carry basis) and pick up some of the hand-pressed apple cider at the packing house storefront before picking up Route 1 over to Strong Brewing Co. in Sedgwick.

    Like so many breweries in Maine, Strong brewing Co. all started with leaving the corporate life combined with serious home brewing hobby. In 2012, they started Maine’s first and the nation’s third “community supported brewery (CSA) by selling shares. Try the Bluff Head, an American Brown Ale named for a nearby beautiful trail with a 500-foot bluff.

    Kennebec Valley

    Sandy River Apples in Mercer, is nestled along the banks of the Sandy River, and this orchard, which produces more than 40 varieties of apples, is now open seven days a week to pick your own or grab a bag of already picked. This orchard was established in 1852 and the Fenton family has run it ever since.

    After that, a short hop over to Skowhegan will bring you to Bigelow Brewing Co. Their tasting room offers locally sourced brews and wood fired pizzas. Try the Jailbreak Chili stout for a seasonal brew with a kick.

    Want to see more brew and apple road trips? See our related story from 2018: Three leaf-peeping, apple-picking brew-tasting road trips for October

    Kay Stephens can be reached at