– By BJ BANGS

Special to the Maine Sunday Telegram

From city streets to country roads, Maine’s foliage is a spectacular medley of reds, yellows, and oranges and panoramic splendor no matter where you are.

Central Maine is a great place to embark upon a foliage tour, and Augusta’s Fort Western, the 1754 National Historic Landmark fort, store and house on the Kennebec River, is a great place to view foliage as well as learn a little bit about Maine history. Old Fort Western is Maine’s and New England’s oldest surviving wooden for — a reminder of life in Maine 250 years ago.

Take a walk and enjoy the crisp fresh air along the 6.5 mile Kennebec River Rail Trail. The trail parallels the existing rail bed along the Kennebec River, stretching from Augusta’s Waterfront Park, through Hallowell, Farmingdale, to Gardiner. Take some time and rustle through the leaves, take photos and capture the foliage’s reflection in the river.

Once back at the fort, take a right and go through the Cony Rotary over the Calumet Bridge at Old Fort Western crossing the Kennebec River and make sure to look to the right for a sight of the historic city with a delightful backdrop of foliage. Take Route 201 toward Hallowell and stop at the Maine State Capitol on the right and the adjacent Maine State Museum for another look at Maine’s history and beauty.

Continue a little less than two miles to Hallowell and walk on the river or visit the town’s many restaurants and antique shops or find some fresh local produce. To leave town take Winthrop Street to Route 202, go left and take a right onto Route 17 going toward Readfield. Stay on this route for 14 miles and take a right heading toward Mount Vernon.

Meadow View Equestrian Center with many spectacular horses will be on the right. Continue on Route 41, and you will have views of Parker Pond, Long Pond, Echo Lake, Flying Pond, and several smaller ponds, just within Mount Vernon, and the DEW Animal Farm, well worth a stop to view the domesticated, exotic and wild animals from all over the world. The zebras will be visible from the road.

Continue down this hilly, winding road and take in the scenic lakes on both sides of the road, pass through Mount Vernon, Vienna, build in 1802, and continue north to Farmington Falls.

Take a left onto Route 2 towards Farmington, stop in the town and visit the shops and restaurants, continue up Route 4 hugging the Sandy River. In Strong cross the bridge and take Route 149 (the back side of the river) to Phillips. About two miles after leaving town via Route 142, take a side trip up Tory Hill, a steep road at an angle, which offers some great views of Mount Abraham, a classic example of how back roads can offer some of Maine’s most spectacular views .

Backtrack to Route 142, take a right and proceed 18 miles to Kingfield. Take a left onto Route 27/17 north through Carrabassett Valley to Eustis, passing by the Carrabassett River, and Sugarloaf Mountain. Although two bridges washed out during Tropical Storm Irene, temporary bridges were scheduled to be installed by now.

If it’s Columbus Day weekend, check out the Upcountry Artists Arts and Crafts Show in the Base Lodge at Sugarloaf.

Then continue through Eustis to Flagstaff Lake, where the culmination of spectacular foliage on the mountains being reflected in the water will greet you.

Visit the Cathedral Pines for a picnic, stroll or kayaking excursion. Ironically you will be at another marker for Benedict Arnold as stone markers designate his historic trek to Quebec.

In one full day, you can see Maine’s foliage at its best. What better way to celebrate some of the best that Maine has to offer than enjoy its rich history as well as it’s spectacular beauty. Check the state’s official fall foliage website, MaineFoliage.com for the latest foliage report.

BJ Bangs is a freelance writer from Western Maine who writes about places to visit that are off the beaten path. She can be contacted at

[email protected]