You can thank chlorophyll, or rather the increasing lack of this molecule, for bringing out your favorite autumn hues at this time of year. Flaming reds, stunning yellows and golden bronzes appear as deciduous trees and shrubs make their annual, multicolored transformation. One way to take in this seasonal transition is on your all-terrain vehicle (ATV). To guide your journey, here are four of the best ATV trails for leaf peeping across this beautiful country.
1. Lead King Basin Trail, Colorado
Gunnison County, Colorado, features the 13-mile, looping Lead King Basin ATV trail. Prepare to be mesmerized by the spectacular view as you enter the basin. Your journey starts in the town of Marble, and continues to the abandoned Crystal Mill and beyond. The mill, built in 1893, was actually a power house that once aided nearby silver mines. The mill is surrounded by mountains, and by early fall the aspens are dressed in vibrant shades of gold. This trip should take you about three hours to complete, stops not included, for one of the best ATV trails in the Centennial State.
Situated squarely in the middle of North Carolina is the Uwharrie OHV Trail System. This trail is found in the Uwharrie National Forest, near Albemarle. The 20-mile trail system is considered challenging and will take most of the day to complete. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts as you pass scenic Badin Lake, surrounded by towering pines and soaring oaks. Those oak leaves transform to beautiful red, brown or russet, colors that typically peak by the first week of November.
3. Ride the Wilds, New Hampshire
New Hampshire has the largest ATV trail system in the northeast, boasting more than 1,000 miles of trails crisscrossing Coos County. Head to Jericho Mountain State Park near Berlin, where you can take in 7,500 acres of ATV trails spanning nearly 100 miles, which are part of the greater Ride the Wilds ATV trail system. By late September, the trails are awash in color as the white birches turn golden yellow and the plentiful sugar maples progress to beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. These same routes become snowmobile trails when winter settles in around mid-November.
4. Schoolcraft ATV/OHM Trail, Minnesota
Travel to far northern Minnesota to the town of Bemidji in Hubbard County and you’ll find the Schoolcraft ATV/OHM Trail, one of the best ATV trails in the North Star State. Access Paul Bunyan State Forest; from there you can connect to the Forest Riders ATV Trail. The 29-mile Schoolcraft Trail crosses rough, rugged topography and meanders past numerous bogs and ponds. The trails on the northern end of the park provide stunning views of the Mississippi River, with hardwoods such as dogwoods and balsam poplars especially evident. Blazing reds and dazzling yellows interspersed with green virgin pines provide a stunning visual display by September’s end.
Best ATV Trails
Every state has ATV trails and you’ll find traditional fall colors evident; Hawaii might be the lone exception. Even Florida serves up a colorful display in Apalachicola National Forest, with turkey oak and bluejack oak presenting bright foliage well into January. There, more than 100 miles of trails are accessible for your leaf peeping enjoyment.
Before you hit the trail, check your vehicle for any maintenance needs. Then, enjoy all that autumn has to offer.
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Photo courtesy of Mathew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.