Correction to This Article
Because of a production error, a portion of the Escapes column in the Oct. 4 Style section was garbled. The description of the Loudoun Wine Trail should have read, "The autumn harvest is a perfect time to sample the local vintage, gaze across rolling hills and join in the autumnal activities at participating wineries." The full article on fall driving routes is available at
Leaf the Driving to Us

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

When the leaves fall, the roads call. So we found 10 country motoring routes where you can see the mid-Atlantic region in its October sweater, a mix of day trips and weekends that incorporate foliage sightseeing, fall festivals and worthy wayside attractions.

For exact driving directions, contact state tourism offices and Web sites listed below. Peak times listed are approximate.

-- Elissa Leibowitz Poma


Sign up for weekly fall foliage updates via e-mail on the Virginia Tourism Corp. autumn Web site, . Info: 800-424-5683, .

Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park

Length: 105 miles.

Peak: Early to mid-October.

Starting point: Pick up Skyline Drive at Front Royal off of Interstate 66, or at Thornton Gap/Route 211 past Sperryville.

The ride: Every Washingtonian should drive through the park in October at least once -- and most seem to do it on the same day. The route is popular because of its proximity to the D.C. area and because, let's face it, Shenandoah is stunning in the fall. Big Meadows, a good resting point, is about midway.

Richmond to Williamsburg

Length: 60 miles.

Peak: Late October.

Starting point: East Main Street in Richmond becomes Route 5 as you head east out of the city.

The ride: Route 5 is a two-lane, wooded road that mostly follows the James River. You'll pass 10 plantations, including the Berkeley and Shirley plantations in Charles City.

Loudoun Wine Trail

Length: Varies.

Peak: Mid- to late October.

Starting point: Visit the Loudoun County Visitors Center at 222 Catoctin Circle in downtown Leesburg (Route 7) to get the wine trail map.

The ride: The autumn harvest is a perfect time to sample the local vintage, gaze across rolling hills and participate in autumnal activities at participating wineries.


For precise driving directions for these and additional routes, request the free Maryland Scenic Byways map at 877-632-9929 or (click on Scenic Byways). Info: 800-719-5900,

Catoctin Mountain Byway

Length: Two loops of 26 miles each.

Peak: Mid-October.

Starting point: The Upper Loop begins at the junction of Catoctin Furnace Road, Route 806 and U.S. 15 north near Thurmont. For the Lower Loop, take Route 77 west from Catoctin Mountain Park to Route 17 near Smithsburg.

The ride: The peak could coincide with the 43rd annual Catoctin Colorfest crafts show in Thurmont Oct. 14 and 15. Following the state Web site's directions, you'll get to Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls State Park. The second loop runs through Gambrills State Park and offers sweeping valley views.

Havre de Grace to Perryville

Length: 33 miles.

Peak: Early to mid-October.

Starting point: From Union Avenue in Havre de Grace (just off of Interstate 95 north of Baltimore), turn onto Otsego Street and join Route 155.

The ride: Start along the water in Havre de Grace, follow Maryland Route 155 to Susquehanna State Park, then take back roads to Conowingo Dam. If you're lucky, there will be a large water release at the dam, making the view all the more attractive.

Bittinger to Oakland

Length: 31 miles.

Peak: Mid-October.

Starting point: Bittinger is 22 miles from Frostburg in Western Maryland. From Frostburg, take Interstate 68 west to Route 495, then south to Rock Lodge Road just past Bittinger.

The ride: This hiker-friendly route goes along the curvy roads of Deep Creek Lake State Park, crosses over Route 219 and then hits Swallow Falls State Park, home of the 60-foot-tall Muddy Creek Falls, and Herrington Manor State Park. A 5 1/2-mile trail connects the two parks.


The Web site lists additional scenic routes, and the tourism office's Web site has a fall-color map and weekly foliage updates. Info: 800-225-5982,

Harpers Ferry to Berkeley Springs

Length: 46 miles.

Peak: Late October.

Starting point: Begin at U.S. 340 in Harpers Ferry and proceed toward Martinsburg to pick up Route 9.

The ride: With its historic stone buildings, ruggedly cut mountains and wide rivers with curtains of changing leaves, Harpers Ferry may well be the prettiest fall town outside of Vermont.

Highland Scenic Highway from Marlinton to Richwood

Length: 43 miles.

Peak: Early to mid-October.

Starting point: From Marlinton (which is about 85 miles west of Staunton, Va.), take U.S. Route 219 north to Route 150 and continue north.

The ride: One of West Virginia's top fall foliage drives, this route has several scenic stops overlooking the Allegheny Highlands and continues close to the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area.


The state's high-tech Web site has live Web cams, time-lapse photography of scenic spots and fall foliage photo galleries, plus fall foliage reports. Info: 800-847-4872, .

Gap to Manheim

Length: 40 miles.

Peak: Late October.

Starting point: Gap is about 15 miles east of Lancaster, Pa., on U.S. 30. Pick up Route 772 (Newport Road) just east of town.

The ride: This drive crosses the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, passing near Intercourse and other touristy but enjoyable towns.

Gettysburg to Bedford

Length: 84 miles.

Peak: Mid- to late October.

Starting point: From Interstate 270 at Frederick, take Route 15 north to Gettysburg, then Route 30 west to Bedford.

The ride: Exploring the rolling fields of Gettysburg National Military Park is a nice autumn visit unto itself. But drive west along Route 30, to Cowans Gap State Park and the village of Old Bedford.


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