Four Fleeting Flavors of Fall Foliage - VBT Bicycling Vacations Skip to Main Content


Four Fleeting Flavors of Fall Foliage

Posted on Monday, October 16th, 2023

Story by: Molly Waldstein | Travel Writer


Don’t let another fall foliage fly past! Catch it on the wing with a spectacular fall foliage cycling vacation in 2024.

Four Fleeting Flavors of Fall Foliage

At VBT’s home office in the maple-clad mountains of Vermont, fall is a magical time of year. After the burst and rush of summer camping trips and barbecues by Lake Champlain, the kids go back to school and the region holds its breath for the changing of the colors. No two foliage seasons are alike, and the weather can have a big impact—an ill-timed rainstorm can bring down a blanket of pale yellow and orange leaves all in one night. But when the conditions are right, the sun shines, the colors pop, and Vermont’s Green Mountains emerge from the chrysalis of summer into a fiery flutter of crimson, gold, and persimmon, the slopes of the mountains are like the graceful wings of a Monarch butterfly, at rest for a brief instant before taking flight.  

There’s no substitute for experiencing fall foliage on a bike—feeling the crisp autumn breeze against your cheek as you glide beneath a sunlit canopy of coral leaves. The brevity of foliage season makes planning ahead an absolute necessity—and although peak foliage dates can vary slightly, snoozers are losers when it comes to last-minute foliage bookings. Fortunately, every autumn comes with new opportunities to catch this spectacular cycling season in different places around the world. So don’t let another fall foliage fly past! Catch it on the wing with a spectacular fall foliage cycling vacation in 2024. 

New England’s Fiery Autumn Maples 

Sunny autumn afternoons in New England are filled with mountains and lakeshores bursting with color. Crisp fall evenings are perfect for relaxing with your feet warmed by an applewood fire while enjoying a tumbler of smoked porter and the hand of that special someone. To experience New England’s fall foliage by bike, you might choose to explore the clatter of red and orange maples around Lake Champlain with VBT’s Vermont: Burlington, the Champlain Islands & Country Villages Guided Tour. Or, head farther north to VBT’s Maine: Acadia National Park Guided Tour to check out a splendid coastal foliage display.  

Golden Forests of the Rockies 

Fall foliage in the Rocky Mountains takes on a different hue than its New England cousin. With a proliferation of aspen and poplar trees, the slopes of the Rockies shine with a sunlit hue of lemony gold—rather than the scarlet and amber of New England’s maple forest. A colony—or “clone”—of aspens begins with a mother tree that sends a complex network of roots into the soil. When conditions are right, the roots expand upwards—developing a new colony of young trees connected by a common root. The leaves of aspens are anchored lightly to the trunk—so they tend to tremble in the slightest breeze. Discover this honey-hued foliage display when you travel on VBT’s Colorado: Aspen to Vail, Valleys of the Rockies Guided Tour. 

Colors Ripening on the Vine 

The colors of European vineyards slowly transform during the growing season as the grapes undergo a process called veraison—changing colors while ripening on the vine. As grape colors change from green to purple, a biochemical transformation is taking place—increasing sugar and reducing acidity. As the ripening grapes deepen in color, the vines slowly take on vibrant orange and yellow hues in preparation for the harvest.  

Ripening is a delicate balance, and growers often work through the night to harvest their grapes at exactly the right moment. To keep spirits up, vineyards often host festivals to celebrate the harvest—including musical performances, food, and of course, wine in abundance. In centuries past, the grape harvest festival had a secondary motive—drumming up a battalion of feet to stomp the fresh grapes underfoot—a practice modern agricultural practices have rendered largely obsolete. However, while exploring the spectacular fall colors of the vine in the famous Chardonnay region of France on VBT’s France: The Burgundy Wine Region & Dijon Guided Tour, or in the rich valleys of Italy when you join VBT’s Italy: Piedmont, Langhe & the Italian Riviera Guided Tour, you’ll find the spirit of the European grape harvest remains in full flourish. Each country adds a different flavor to the autumnal harvest festivities—for example, the grape harvest around Slovenia’s Lake Bled is a magical combination of castles and colors, as you’ll discover on VBT’s Slovenia, Austria & Italy: Alpine Valleys Guided Tour. Or, you might choose to experience fall foliage in the forests, vineyards, and the vine-covered streets of Strasbourg on VBT’s Switzerland, Germany & France: The Black Forest & the Alsace Wine Route Guided Tour. 

Riverside Foliage in Europe  

Nothing beats the view of fall foliage from the water! With VBT’s outstanding Bike & Boat cruises, you’ll suffuse your spirit with the colors of European fall foliage with days in the saddle followed by evenings on the water. Explore the shores of the famous Rhine River during VBT’s stupendous Rhine Bike & River Cruise: Basel to Amsterdam—or discover the spectacular colors of the Mosel River Valley during VBT’s France, Luxembourg & Germany Bike & Boat: Mosel River Valley, Aboard the Princesse Royal.

Don’t Forget the Southern Hemisphere! 

If you’d rather not wait until next fall to celebrate fall foliage, March and April is a golden opportunity to cycle amid the cooler temperatures and vibrant colors of fall foliage on VBT’s Chile: Coastal Vistas & Vineyards Guided Tour. Along the way, you may also experience the traditional Chilean grape harvest festival Vendimia—celebrated throughout Chilean wine country during autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. 

There are so many wonderful ways to explore fall foliage around the world—don’t let another year pass by without experiencing it for yourself! 

molly | Travel Writer

0 of 4
Tours Selected