Take a fall foliage drive through the mountains

Published 9:59 pm Saturday, October 2, 2010

It is time to drop the top or open the sun roof roll down the windows and take a fall foliage drive on the winding roads through the rolling hills and valleys of our region.

There are plenty of sights, smells, and sounds of autumn to take in.

We probably have four to six weeks of color to enjoy so get going and plan a getaway. To assist in your planning use the Internet search term of “Ohio fall foliage” and plenty of sights will be displayed. I prefer to go to the state’s tourism or department of natural resources pages. Just substitute another state for Ohio and you’ll get their update color information too!

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In our own back yard is a Shawnee driving trail that provides outstanding scenery near the junction of two of the state’s greatest rivers, the Ohio and the Scioto. Start out by heading north on State Route 93 towards Oak Hill. This road winds through much of the Wayne forest and will soon be ablaze in brilliant fall foliage. Hairpin turns and the abundance of wildlife make this an exhilarating journey. Turn left on Route 278 and travel westward through the Appalachian hill country until Route 278 eventually mergers with Route 139.

In Minford continue west on the Minford-Lucasville Rd and County Road 29 which eventually turn into Route 728. Cross over Route 52 for a short trek then turn left/south on Route 104 towards Portsmouth. This road snakes along the Scioto River until it reaches the Ohio.

As you near the Ohio follow the highway signs and head back east into Portsmouth proper. This puts you in Boneyfiddle Historic District a place that offers plenty of antique shops and restaurants to satisfy all appetites. The floodwall murals here are a not-to-be missed opportunity.

For lunch it’s either the brick oven baked pizza at the Portsmouth Brewing Company or the overstuffed sandwiches at the Port City Grill. It you haven’t been here you’ll discover that it a quaint Irish pub. Tough choices but someone has to make them.

Next it’s time to travel west on Route 52 right along the banks of the Ohio River. Just a few minutes out of Portsmouth you will start to run into the property of Shawnee State Forest, Ohio’s largest state forest. This forest has a stunning combination of craggy hills, towering trees and river views that will impress any leaf peeper.

Once you arrive at the Shawnee Forest there are plenty of byways to wander through. Here’s a link http://tinyurl.com/383ze9a to a self guided driving or stop at the information center for suggestions.

Today instead of heading into the forest we’re continuing down river towards Ripley Ohio for some riverside dining before heading home. Next stop is Manchester home of Moyer Vineyards, Winery and Restaurant. Here you’ll discover a great menu complete with local vintages and pleasant outdoor patio offering splendid views of the Ohio.

Refreshed refueled and running out of daylight I’m crossing the river in Aberdeen Ohio /Maysville Kentucky then motoring home on the AAA.

Another option is to head to the mountains of WVA and head to the Greenbrier Valley’s 30th Annual Arts and Craft Show. This event features nearly 100 arts and crafts exhibitors and is the area’s largest arts and crafts event. There will be prize drawings, food, free admission and parking.

Held Oct. 8 thru the 10th this show is located inside the West Virginia Building at the West Virginia State Fair Event Center. It will run Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The fair grounds are located in Fairlea, W.Va. For more information, contact 304-645-6023 or 304-645-6536.

As you travel through Beckley, W.Va. why not plan stop for a late breakfast or an early lunch at Tamarack. You can browse the interesting crafts before you sit down for a tasty delight.

This journey is pretty much a straight shot on I 64/77 but for a more scenic and historic adventure why not jump off the Interstate and travel the Old Midland Trail.

The Midland Trail National Scenic Byway is the road of choice for those who want to leave the interstate behind and see the Best of West Virginia as Route 60 winds the 180-miles across West Virginia’s midsection offering a drive filled with fabulous vistas, world-class rafting, outdoor fun, art and artisan treasures & pioneer history.

It stretches from the Ohio River near Huntington, Ceredo and Kenova and winds through the mountains ending at the Virginia state line. Stay tuned as I am sure that there is more content to follow on the scenic and historic Midland Trail.

Got travel questions? Email thetravelprofessor@gmail.com or visit me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theTravelProfessor.