Fall Day Rides

Here’s the scoop on three spectacular fall day-riding spots: Captain William Clark Park, Washington; East Fork Stables, Tennessee; and New Discovery State Park, Vermont.
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Here’s the scoop on three spectacular fall day-riding spots: Captain William Clark Park, Washington; East Fork Stables, Tennessee; and New Discovery State Park, Vermont.

Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach Trail, Washougal, Washington

The 85-acre Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach Trail is adjacent to the Columbia River, and features level terrain covered with pines and deciduous trees.

The 85-acre Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach Trail is adjacent to the Columbia River, and features level terrain covered with pines and deciduous trees.

Closest city: Portland, Oregon.

Travel distance: 16 miles.

Directions: From the Portland International Airport, head south. Go northeast on Airport Way. Take the Interstate 205 North ramp to Seattle, then take Exit 27 toward Camas. Merge onto Washington State Route 14 East. Turn right onto South 32nd St. Take the second right onto Index Street. Captain William Clark Park is on the left.

Terrain: The 85-acre Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach Trail is adjacent to the Columbia River, and features level terrain covered with pines and deciduous trees. This area is one of the Pacific Northwest’s top places to view fall foliage.

History: In the spring of 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped near present day Cottonwood Beach for six days. This park commemorates the expedition site where the Corps of Discovery camped while on their journey in 1806. It was formally designated as William Clark Park in 2005. Located in scenic Washougal, the area is recognized as one of the few parks in the United States named for Captain William Clark. Replicas of Chinookan canoes and Lewis and Clark’s dugout canoes are on display. 

Top ride: Riders recommend the 3.5-mile Cottonwood Beach Trail. This multiuse trail extends from Steamboat Landing in East Vancouver to the United States Fish and Wildlife Refuge at Steigerwald Lake. The hard, flat trail offers magnificent views of the Columbia River Gorge. Islands, streams, and sand are visible at the top of the levee at the north side of the park. The trailhead is located along Evergreen Way, east of Washougal.

Map: Go to www.cityofvancouver.us. On the right-hand side of the home page, go to Maps, Parks-Trails, and scroll down to the Cottonwood Beach Trail.

In the saddlebag: Sun block, lip balm, and a camera.

Contact: William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach, (360) 835-2662;www.clark.wa.gov/public-works/captain-william-clark-regional-park-cottonwood-beach.


East Fork Stables, Jamestown, Tennessee

East Fork’s trail system features shady forests, rock formations, lily pad ponds, vast acres of open fields, sandy trails, waterfalls, and an abundance of flora along the riverbanks.

East Fork’s trail system features shady forests, rock formations, lily pad ponds, vast acres of open fields, sandy trails, waterfalls, and an abundance of flora along the riverbanks.

Closest city: Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Travel distance: 100 miles.

Directions:

 Take Tennessee State Route 29 North toward Dayton, and get off on the Tennessee State Route 68 North exit. Merge onto Wassom Memorial Hwy. (Hwy. 68). Turn 

right onto Cox Valley Rd. Turn right onto Tennessee State Route 1 East/U.S. Route 70 East.

Turn right onto Market St. Turn right to merge onto

Interstate 40 west

toward Nashville. Take Exit

317

toward

Jamestown. East Fork Stables will be on the left.

History: The Bruno Gernt Estate established East Fork Stables in 1994. The estate quickly became part of the diverse tourism culture of middle Tennessee, and offers some of the best trail riding in the state. More than 12,000 acres of privately ownedland makes upEast Fork’s trail system. Plus, you can ride on more than 100 miles of trails on the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau.

Terrain: East Fork’s trail system features shady forests, rock formations, lily pad ponds, vast acres of open fields, sandy trails, waterfalls, and an abundance of flora along the riverbanks.

Map: Go to www.eastforkstables.com. On the left-hand side of the home page, click on Maps.

Top ride: One top ride is the Deer Gap Falls Loop, featuring views of the Old Coalminer’s Homestead, Jordan Lake, and the mountains of Owens Overlook. A waterfall is your reward for negotiating this three-mile, moderate trail. In the fall, deciduous trees surrounding the trail provide plenty of color.

In the saddlebag: In the fall, lip balm, warm riding gloves and a camera are must-haves. Bring a rain slicker in winter and mosquito repellent in summer.

Contact: East Fork Stables, (800) 97-TRAIL [87245]; www.eastforkstables.com.


New Discovery State Park, Peacham, Vermont

The 26,000-acre New Discovery State Park, located in Groton State Forest, features gravel-surfaced roads, logging roads, and vast trails that run alongside the Montpelier-Wells River Rail Trail.

The 26,000-acre New Discovery State Park, located in Groton State Forest, features gravel-surfaced roads, logging roads, and vast trails that run alongside the Montpelier-Wells River Rail Trail.

Closest city: Burlington, Vermont.

Travel distance: 75 miles.

Directions: From Burlington, take Interstate 89 south to Montpeller. Take Exit 7 to merge onto Vermont Route 62 east toward U.S. Route 302 Berlin/Barre. Turn right onto North Main St. Continue onto Washington St. Continue onto U.S. Route 302/East Barre Rd. At the traffic circle, continue onto East Barre Rd. Continue to follow U.S. Route 302. Turn left onto Vermont Route 232 North. Take sharp right. Turn right. The park will be on the left.

Terrain: The 26,000-acre New Discovery State Park, located in Groton State Forest, is the second-largest contiguous land holding of the State of Vermont. Gravel-surfaced roads, logging roads, and vast trails run alongside the Montpelier-Wells River Rail Trail. The area, known for its scenery and rugged terrain, has steadfastly maintained a sense of wildness. Black bear, moose, deer, grouse, mink, beaver, otter, fisher, loons, and herons populate the area. Clear ponds and streams offer a variety of fish. The trail system contains Peacham Bog, one of the largest natural bogs in Vermont.

History: Panoramic views, exposed rock, and granite boulders throughout the forest harken back to glacial activity that took place in the area 10,000 years ago. Native Americans and French trappers developed routes through the region to reach Canada and Massachusetts. Area hillsides were once abundant with pine, spruce, hemlock, beech, maple, and birch, which made this a popular logging area until tourism began to dominate the local economy.

Top rides: A sojourn through the moderate 3.5-mile round-trip Big Deer Mountain Trail will take you through colorful forests and to scenic vistas. The 11-mile multiuse Montpelier-Wells River Trail can be accessed from various points within the park, and features quiet woods and plenty of fall colors.

Map: Go to www.vtstateparks.com/pdfs/newdiscovery.pdf.

In the saddlebag: In the fall, lip balm, warm riding gloves, and a camera are must-haves. 

Contact: New Discovery State Park, (802) 426-3042; www.vtstateparks.com/htm/newdiscovery.htm