The rites of fall are upon us -- leaves to be raked, if no longer burned, pumpkins hardening in the fields, and, come this weekend, a large pumpkin moon in the sky. It is the season of the hayride.
There are still farms which provide them, jostling trips through the chill night air and bonfires where the songs of long-ago campfires are recalled once more.
Potomac Equitation Farm, 5320 Pleasant Valley Rd., Centreville, Md. (631-9720) schedules its hayrides to coincide with a night of full moonlight, Oct. 6 being the next one. The farm makes an evening of it, from 5 p.m. until midnight.
For adults, there are two, 45-minute trail rides with the hayride scheduled in between. The bonus for children is a pony ring, where they can ride as often as they like until 10 p.m. The farm sets out candlelit tables and serves a country buffet, with lots of homemade cakes and pies. Adults pay $18 for everything, or $10 for the hayride and buffet only. Charge for children is $8.
Jackie Mock, who plans the evenings, warns that people should dress warmly and, she says, if there is enough interest, the farm will schedule another moonlight hayride in November.
At Camp Waredaca (924-4991), the hay wagon is pulled by a tractor around the camp's 230 acres of fields, woods and lake. The ride lasts 50 minutes and is followed by a bonfire, for which guests provide their own food. The wagon holds between 35 and 40 people and costs $1.50 for adults and $1 for children under 16. There is a $30 minimum and a $10 deposit is required to confirm a reservation.
In case of rain, people must cancel by 3 p.m., request another date or lose their deposit. To get there, take Georgia Avenue five miles north to Olney, Md., turn left onto 650 and go one mile.
The Brandywine Stables (372-8914 or 301 -- 782-7052) hay wagon is pulled by two Clydesdale horses through 500 acres of woods and trails. In the middle of the two-hour ride is a stop at a bonfire next to a creek, where the guests may cook their food before returning to the stables. Brandywine charges $3 a person for the ride, and has a $90 minimum, which must be paid to confirm the reservation. Take 495 to Exit 36 South (Branch Avenue) and go 12 miles to the stable.
At Lux Stables (390-9897), the hayride is on a truck which takes to the back lanes for an hour or an hour and a half. Following the hay ride there is a bonfire, for which guests bring their own food. It costs $125 for the truck, which holds 50 people. The stables suggest giving a week's notice and need a $50 deposit to confirm a reservation. To get there, take Exit 30 East off the Washington Beltway, bear left onto 564 north and go two miles.