Pumpkin lineupAcross the country, fall is in full swing. Pumpkin beers crowd the shelves of bottle shops, trees have begun to shed their colorful leaves, and Halloween is two short weeks away. Which means that cold weather is already creeping south from the Canadian interior and the year’s first frost isn’t far off. Before winter arrives, make the most of October and plan a short road trip around two outdoor activities that are perfectly suited to autumn: hiking and pumpkin or apple picking.

Apple season is over for the handful of orchards between Boston and Providence, but plenty of pumpkins remain to be chosen and carved, and fresh-pressed cider is still available for thirsty pickers. C. N. Smith Farm in East Bridgewater, Mass. is one such place where you can buy a big orange gourd for the front porch. Purchase a ticket for a hayride and you’ll be carried out to a pumpkin field where acres of future jack-o’-lanterns are priced by the pound. On your way to C. N. Smith (or before making the return trip), stop at Blue Hills Reservation, a chain of 22 hills that aren’t particularly steep individually, but add up to a respectable hiking challenge when attempted in succession. Make the short climb to Eliot Tower from the Trailside Museum in Milton, or test your hiking mettle on the nine-mile Skyline Trail.


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In New York State, dozens of farms north of New York City allow visitors to pick apple varieties such as Rome, Ida Red, Winesap, Fuji, and Granny Smith. Many orchards also sell baked goods, mulled cider, and (best of all) apple cider donuts. East of the Hudson River, Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm is open on weekends from 10am to 4:30pm, while to the west, Dr. Davies Farm has approximately 4,000 fruit-bearing trees. From Wilkens, it’s a quick drive to Westchester’s Blue Mountain Reservation, a 1,500-acre park with a number of short trails that can be linked together to form a fairly easy 4.5-mile hike. Dr. Davies, meanwhile, sits between High Tor State Park and Hook Mountain. Start from the parking lot at either of these small parks, and follow the aqua blazes of the Long Path for a moderate climb and outstanding views across the Hudson.


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Finally, a number of orchards outside of Philadelphia offer similar opportunities for hikers that also like to cook or bake with seasonal fruits and veggies. Head west to Delaware County to visit Linvilla Orchards, or keep driving to Chester County to reach Highland Orchards, another popular pick-your-own spot. Then, once you’ve loaded up your car with produce, point your vehicle to Ridley Creek State Park where 12 miles of hiking trails wander through shady woods and open meadows. Again, the terrain isn’t overly challenging, but you’ll probably want to save some energy for apple peeling and pumpkin carving anyway. Wherever you choose to go for your fall fun, always remember to bring a map, dress in layers, and carry both snacks and water.

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