Travel & Outdoors

A Slice of Life

Four fall forays in search of pie, comfort food, and splendid scenery.

You’re rambling down a country road admiring the fiery-hued foliage
when it hits you: You’re hungry and only one food will do—pie, perhaps
the quintessential fall fare. A warm wedge of apple à la mode would fit
the bill nicely, or a slice of lofty lemon meringue. Chances are the
next small town will have just the dining spot you’re looking for: large
parking lot (promising), lots of cars with in-state plates (better
yet), a neon sign of a certain vintage (bonus points), and customers
leaving with telltale pie boxes (bingo!). We all crave comfort food,
especially when traveling. Fresh-baked pies, homemade soup, and anything
slathered in gravy represent a piece of home on terra incognita and a
sample of the local cuisine, all rolled into one. Here are four fall
getaways sure to satisfy your tastes in leaf looking, apple picking, and
local flavor.

The Maryland Countryside

Why: Farm bounty and fall glory
Plan: A full day

What can top the autumn scenery along Falls Road? Okay, maybe the
scenery from above Falls Road if you’re in one of those hot-air balloons
lifting off from Oregon Ridge Park. Make the most of your day in the
countryside; rise early like the balloonists and get rolling before the
morning dew dries. Let whim be your GPS. You could detour to
Reisterstown for a breakfast pizza piled with scrambled eggs and cheese
at Martha & Mary’s, a popular downtown gathering spot (75 Main St.,
410-833-3336). Or simply stick with Falls Road all the way to Alesia. As
you pass century-old stone houses, stream-laced valleys, and rolling
farmland, you’ll see why the highway, officially Route 25, is designated
a Maryland scenic byway.

From Manchester (about three miles west of Alesia), follow MD 27
south to Westminster, home of McDaniel College, the Carroll County Farm
Museum, and an apple empire that dates to the Roosevelt era (Teddy, that
is). Pick a peck of apples or the perfect pumpkin at Baugher’s, a
pick-your-own orchard with a busy restaurant and market that has been in
the apple biz since 1904. All of the pies—over a dozen varieties,
including four types of apple—are baked in-house. Order a slice à la
mode, and you can sample Baugher’s luscious homemade ice cream, too.
Other Baugher’s attractions: wagon rides, a petting zoo, and a
maniacally grinning mascot, “Apple Man.” (Farm: 1236 Baugher Rd.,
410-848-5541; pick-your-own hotline, 410-857-0111; restaurant, 289 W.
Main St., 410-848-7413.)

Walk off one of Baugher’s home-style meals by hiking the trails at
Sugarloaf Mountain, a mounded promontory rising 800 feet above the farms
that surround it. Take MD 27 south to the town of Mt. Airy. Follow back
roads southwest to Comus Road and the entrance to the Sugarloaf
recreation area. Sugarloaf has no mountainous neighbors, so you’ll enjoy
unobstructed views from overlooks located near the east and west
parking lots. If you’re feeling ambitious—or crowd-shy—hike the
five-mile Northern Peaks Trail for spectacular views from White Rocks
overlook. The trail is a favorite of local hikers (7901 Comus Rd.,
Dickerson, 301-874-2024). As the afternoon sun paints the fields in
gold, savor a glass of Merlot at Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, whose 92
acres abut the Sugarloaf Mountain property (18125 Comus Rd., Dickerson,

Plot a route home by way of Eldersburg and order a few gooey-good BCT
(bacon, cheddar, and tomato) sandwiches to go at Grilled Cheese &
Co.—or eat in if you’re too famished to wait (in Johnsville Center, 577
Johnsville Rd., Eldersburg, 410-920-3238).

THE DETAILS: Must-Try Pie: Anything seasonal, like apple crumb or
pumpkin, at Baugher’s in Westminster. Don’t Miss: Fall festivals at the
Carroll County Farm Museum: The Maryland Wine Festival takes place
Sept. 17 and 18, and the Fall Harvest Days Jamboree, featuring
scarecrow-making, tractor pulls, threshing demonstrations, and bluegrass
music, is Oct. 1 and 2 (500 S. Center St., Westminster, 410-386-3880).
Don’t Forget: Binoculars for Sugarloaf’s summit, where you can spy the
Potomac River, Catoctin Mountain, and hawks soaring above a patchwork of
farm fields and brilliant fall foliage. Bring Home: A plump pumpkin
suitable for “scary” cosmetic surgery.

Maryland and West Virginia Mountains

Why: Vistas and mineral springs
Plan: A weekend

Glaciers move faster than Friday night traffic on I-70 West, but
persevere; once you’ve passed Frederick, your mountain getaway has

Reward yourself with comfort chow at Barbara Fritchie Restaurant,
whose giant candy-cane sign has lured motorists off U.S. 40 for decades.
All-day breakfast, hot turkey sandwiches, liver and onions, mac and
cheese, homemade pies, root-beer floats—Fritchie’s serves nearly all the
feel-good food groups. And in an age of retro-’50s diners, the
restaurant’s Formica counters and Sputnik-like chandeliers are the real
deal (1513 W. Patrick St., Frederick, 301-662-2500).

From the restaurant, use Bletinger Road to access Alternate 40 and
continue west. At Braddock Heights, gaze from atop Braddock Mountain at
Frederick’s poetic “clustered spires.” In Middletown, the kids will
insist you stop at South Mountain Creamery. This dairy farm, which
offers glass-bottle milk delivery in metro Baltimore, has a store
selling yummy ice cream and dairy goods a stone’s throw from the herds
that produced them. The kids can even help feed the calves (8305 Bolivar
Rd., 301-371-8565).

Plot a day’s trip to Berkeley Springs, WV, the spa town where George
Washington famously soaked. To bypass downtown Hagerstown, where
Alternate 40 ends, follow MD 68 west to hit U.S. 40 at Clear Spring.
Stop to take photos at Devil’s Backbone Park, where a historic stone
bridge and a waterfall span Antietam Creek northwest of Boonsboro, and
at the C&O Canal in Hancock, where the poignant remains of the
Tonoloway Creek Aqueduct are a short walk from the new visitor center.
Before taking U.S. 522 to Berkeley Springs, grab a rib-sticking lunch at
Park-N-Dine, a roadside fixture in Hancock since 1946 (189 E. Main St.,

A lot has changed, obviously, since the Father of our Country “took
the waters” in the mountain town he christened Bath (still Berkeley
Springs’s official name), the latest being a $2-million modernization
last year of Berkeley Springs State Park’s historic bathhouse. Book in
advance, if you can, to reserve a soak in the soothing mineral waters of
the retiled Roman baths or the updated whirlpool tubs. Thirty-minute or
one-hour massage packages (bath, shower, full-body rub) are your best
value (304-258-2711 or
Top off your relaxing day by dining at Lot 12 Public House, where chef
Damian Heath creates slow-cooked stews (rabbit ragoût), seasonal
desserts (pumpkin cheesecake), and other “upscale comfort cuisine” (117
Warren St., Berkeley Springs, 304-258-6264).

Make your homeward passage via MD 64 and MD 77 over the Catoctin
Mountains. You’ll wind through Catoctin Mountain Park, where 25 miles of
hiking trails lead to stunning vistas of the Monocacy Valley and the
town of Thurmont. Post hike, wind down with a pint of ale and a surf or
turf dinner at Shamrock Restaurant, a favorite Sunday dinner destination
for generations of Marylanders (7701 Fitzgerald Rd., Thurmont,

THE DETAILS: Sleep: The brainchild of novelist Nora Roberts, Inn
BoonsBoro is part B&B, part Euro-hotel, and pure romance. Its eight
rooms bear the names and period décor of beloved literary couples, from
Deco for Nick and Nora’s chamber to English country for Jane and
Rochester’s. Rooms have luxury bedding, opulent baths, and customized
bath fragrances (heather, naturally, for Charlotte Brontë’s moor-crossed
lovers). Packages available (1 N. Main St., 301-432-1188). Must-Try
Pie: Pecan in puff pastry with caramel sauce and vanilla whipped cream
at Lot 12 Public House, Berkeley Springs. Don’t Miss: Gathland State
Park and its curious mountaintop monument to Civil War journalists. Once
the home of Civil War correspondent George Alfred Townsend, the park
encompasses several buildings and a 50-foot-high stone arch in the
outline of a castle, which Townsend dedicated to his colleagues. You can
gawk, picnic, and hike the Appalachian Trail (on Arnoldstown Road, one
mile east of MD 67, in Burkittsville, 301-791-4767). Don’t Forget:
Bicycles to ride the C&O Canal towpath and, if you’re demur, a
bathing suit for the mineral baths; birthday suits are fine otherwise
(cover-up towels provided). Bring Home: Pound cake (apple spice,
blueberry, orange, cream cheese, or banana nut) from Catoctin Mountain
Orchard’s farm market (15036 N. Franklinville Rd., Thurmont,

Lancaster County, PA

Why: Antiques and shoofly pie
Plan: At least a weekend

Escape to Pennsylvania on the road most traveled (historically
anyway). The East’s oldest highway, Route 1 was serving Maryland
motorists long before it earned “U.S.” status 85 years ago. As the
Mother Road crosses the Susquehanna River atop Conowingo Dam, watch for
bald eagles soaring above the spillway hunting fish.

Turn west onto U.S. 222 and cross into a slower, simpler world where
horses—real ones—often provide vehicular power and farm fields unfurl
over seemingly endless hills. PA 272 offers a slightly more scenic ride
than 222, but either route carries you into the heart of Amish country
in Lancaster County. Miller’s Smorgasbord and its Route 30 emporium are
über-touristy, but they offer one-stop immersion into Pennsylvania Dutch
food and folkways. For half the price of a porterhouse in the city,
stuff yourself on chicken corn soup, chow-chow, roast turkey, baked ham,
fried chicken, buttered noodles, and shoofly (molasses) pie (2811
Lincoln Hwy. East, Ronks, 717-687-6621).

Reserve a full day to explore the county’s northern tier on PA 272
and 772. Chock-a-block with antiques shops and markets, Adamstown on 272
is the place to hunt for indigenous folk art (quilts, coverlets,
primitive furniture, rugs, pottery, and tin ware) as well as fine
antiques. Visit on Sundays, when Renninger’s holds its indoor/outdoor
market, one of the largest around (7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., 2500 N. Reading
Rd., 717-336-2177), and Stoudt’s Black Angus Antiques Mall opens its
outdoor pavilion and German-style beer garden at 5:30 a.m., two hours
before its more than 300-dealer indoor market commences. Post-antiquing,
dine at the microbrewery’s restaurant/pub surrounded by its collection
of political memorabilia and vintage beer trays (2800 N. Reading Rd.,

Follow 772 west through the small towns of Ephrata and Lititz,
formerly German-speaking religious communities. Today, only a state
museum, the Ephrata Cloister, survives to tell of the town’s founding by
would-be hermit Conrad Beissel. You can tour several of the original
buildings in which Beissel and his followers led their monastic lives
and buy local handicrafts—including replicas of the “pillows,” actually
blocks of wood, used by the brothers and sisters—at the Cloister Museum
Shop (632 W. Main St., 717-733-6600).

By contrast, the Moravian Church remains active in Lititz, where its
congregation dates to 1749. But modern pilgrims journey to this lovely
burg for another reason: chocolate. Buy it fresh at the irresistibly
aromatic Wilbur Chocolate Factory Store on the site where the confection
has been made for over a century (48 N. Broad St., 888-294-5287). At
Café Chocolate, owner Selina Man preaches the virtues of cocoa solids
and fair-trade coffee. Stop by for a Turbo (organic hot chocolate with
an espresso shot), and you might see MSNBC anchor and Lititz weekender
Mika Brzezinski sipping her morning joe (40 E. Main St., 717-626-0123).

Finally, return home along the Susquehanna’s east shore, stopping in
Columbia, PA, for a bite of the Bayou at Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen.
Yes, that Prudhomme family. Chef Paul’s nephew, David, and his wife,
Sharon, serve authentic gumbo, red beans and rice, crawfish étouffé, and
other Cajun fare in an old hotel with a colorful past (50 Lancaster
Ave., 717-684-1706).

THE DETAILS: Sleep: Cradled by rolling farmland, The Inn at Twin
Linden offers eight rooms—including two private-entrance suites—that
feature canopy and feather beds, spa tubs, fireplaces, and stunning
views. Guests get preference for reservations for the inn’s four-course,
prix-fixe dinners on Saturday nights (2092 Main St., Churchtown,
717-445-7619). Must-Try Pies: Shoofly and whoopee (really an overgrown
chocolate cookie) anywhere. Don’t Miss: Oktoberfest in Stoudt’s beer
garden, featuring German music, dancing, and food (Sept. 24-25 and every
Sunday in October). Don’t Forget: Your furnishings’ wish list; in
addition to Adamstown antiquing, there’s a Shaker furniture shop in
Lititz. Bring Home: Fresh-baked fruit and cream pies from Wilson’s Farm
Market, which grows its own fruit and uses locally sourced ingredients.
Call ahead to reserve your favorites (2826 Conowingo Rd., Bel Air,

Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Why: Valley views and apples
Plan: A long weekend

From Baltimore, make haste westward on I-70, then plot a slower
course via Routes 340 and 15 to Leesburg, VA, crossing the Potomac at
craggy Point of Rocks. Your reward is nearby.

Housed in a handsomely renovated brick bank, Lightfoot Restaurant
showcases historic Leesburg’s demi-Dixie sensibilities. For lunch, order
shrimp and andouille gumbo or a GCOTD (grilled cheese of the day)
sandwich, oozing melted Havarti and pumpkin butter (11 N. King St.,

Route 7, a gentle roller coaster of a road, leads west to Winchester,
VA, the heart of apple country and the beginning of your Shenandoah
Valley exploration. From there, U.S. 11 slices southward between
mountains, linking small towns with solid Civil War pedigrees.

Wander down side roads and take your pick (literally) of apples and
pumpkins at local orchards and farm markets. You’ll find a diverse
choice of comfort cuisine in the valley, from house-made gnocchi at
family-run Violino Ristorante (181 N. Loudoun St., Winchester,
540-667-8006) and fair-trade coffee and fresh-fruit pies at folksy
Cristina’s Café (219 W. King St., Strasburg, 540-465-2311) to creamy
peanut soup with country ham at the neon-lit, road-foodie favorite,
Southern Kitchen (9576 S. Congress St., New Market, 540-740-3514).

On day two, head south and east to Front Royal, gateway to the Blue
Ridge Mountains and a 75-year-old treasure, Shenandoah National Park.
Whether you plan to drive, hike, pedal, or saddle up to see the
mountains’ colorful canopy, fill your tummy first. Try a curry chicken
wrap with mango coulis at Soul Mountain Restaurant, whose eclectic menu
is peppered with pulled pork, jerk chicken wings, Cajun fried catfish,
and other pleasingly piquant lunch and dinner dishes (300 E. Main St.,
540-636-0070). If Skyline Drive, the park’s illustrious highway, is too
congested, take a lesser-known, nearly-as-scenic western route through
sparsely settled Fort Valley. From Front Royal, take Route 55 west to
Waterlick, turn left and follow VA 678 as it winds south through a
national forest and acres of farm fields and pastures.

Detour onto VA 758 to visit Woodstock Tower, a National Forest
Service landmark perched on one of the highest peaks around. Climb the
tower to spy the seven bends of the Shenandoah River along with the
occasional hang-glider riding the ridge drafts below. Continue on VA 758
west to U.S. 11. Stop in Middletown for a hearty supper of corned beef
and cabbage at the refreshingly authentic Irish Isle Restaurant and Pub
(7843 Main St., 540-868-9877). Dine upstairs to hear live folk music,
but do sneak a peak at the leprechaun-sized basement bar.

On day three, pick your way home along Routes 55 and 50 through
Virginia’s vineyard and horse-farm territory. In Linden, don’t miss The
Apple House, a farm market/restaurant/gift shop (4675 John Marshall
Hwy., 540-636-6329). The pork barbecue is good (a porcine-shaped smoker
outside attests to its authenticity), but the house treat is apple
doughnuts. Order at least a dozen of these kinda-teeny-but-very-tasty
treats to go. In tweedy Middleburg, scour the Middleburg Humane
Foundation’s thrift store for hunting jackets, vintage riding boots,
original artwork, and other lightly used finds (Second Chance Thrift
Shop, 6 W. Washington St., 540-364-3272). At Aldie, follow the historic
“Carolina Road” (U.S. 15) northward back to Point of Rocks.

THE DETAILS: Sleep: Nestled in the countryside, yet less than a
mile off U.S. 11, the ultra-romantic Inn at Vaucluse Springs has six
comfortable guesthouses clustered around a limestone spring and its
millpond. On Saturday nights, guests gather in the hilltop manor house
for a five-course candlelight dinner (reservations required) specially
prepared by the chef de la maison (231 Vaucluse Spring Ln., Stephens
City, 540-869-0200, Must-Try Pie: Coconut cream or
coconut custard at Southern Kitchen, New Market. Don’t Miss: A ride
(nighttime is more romantic) on the Gen. Jubal A. Early, the lone
survivor in a long tradition of Potomac River ferryboats (White’s Ferry,
24801 Whites Ferry Rd., Dickerson, MD, 301-349-5200). Don’t Forget:
Hiking shoes for Shenandoah Park. Bring Home: A Shenandoah Valley
favorite, Rinker Orchards’s fresh-pressed apple cider, sold at the
orchard (1156 Marlboro Rd., Stephens City, 540-869-1499) and local

Apple Orchards

Where to find the best fruit for picking and eating.

Butler’s Orchard: Butler’s is the place to go for
fall fun, with pick-your-own apples starting in early September. They
also have a Pumpkin Festival every weekend in October, which includes
hayrides, giant slides, and a straw maze! 22200 Davis Mill Rd.,
Germantown. 301-972-3299.

Larriland Farm: This impressive Woodbine farm has a
terrific selection of apples come fall. Check the pick-your-own harvest
calendar online for a detailed guide of when to expect what type of
apple—from Galas in early September to Pink Ladies in November. 2415
Woodbine Rd., Woodbine. Tues.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m.-5
p.m., (Open Mon. in October). 410-422-2605.

Milburn Orchards: Milburn’s apple season starts
Labor Day weekend. Be sure to try their country-fresh pies, apple-cider
donuts, and caramel apples, all made fresh in their Bake Shoppe. 1495
Appleton Rd., Elkton. Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Weber’s Cider Mill Farm: Kicking off with their
Johnny Appleseed Festival the weekend of September 17, apple season at
Weber’s Cider Mill Farm offers a great selection. Also, try their
fresh-pressed apple cider. Weber’s is the oldest Maryland cider mill in
continuous use, so they’re sure to get it right. 2526 Proctor Ln.,
Parkville. Sept.: 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Oct: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. 410-668-4488.

—Emily Graham

Leaf Peeping

Nestled in the mountains right where the Shenandoah and Potomac
Rivers meet, beautiful, historic Harpers Ferry, WV, is a great place to
spend a fall day, whether you stay in the picturesque town or hike
through the surrounding woods and battlefields. Also, since it’s located
right over the Maryland/West Virginia line, the drive is just over an

Although the bloodiest battle of the Civil War was fought there,
historic Gettysburg, PA, is now a quaint and peaceful town. Just over an
hour from Baltimore, you can easily spend a day driving through the
rolling hills that surround the town, taking in breathtaking foliage,
and stopping every once in a while for a professional or self-guided
history lesson.

Located off of Route 77 in the Catoctin Mountains, 78-foot high
Cunningham Falls is the largest cascading waterfall in Maryland and is
simply stunning. Cunningham Falls State Park also has a huge selection
of hiking trails, fishing, and camping sites, so you can spend as much
time as you’d like in this beautiful park. 14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd.,

The Appalachian Trail stretches 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine.
Maryland has 40.9 of those miles (among the easiest to hike!) located
out in Western Maryland between Frederick and Hagerstown, offering
numerous scenic vistas. Many entrances including South Mountain State
Park, 21843 National Pike, Boonsboro.

The Patapsco Valley State Park has miles of trails that are, for many
of us in Baltimore and Howard Counties, literally in our backyards. The
Avalon/Glen Artney/Orange Grove area in particular includes the Grist
Mill Trail, complete with a paved path along the river and access to the
Swinging Bridge, as well as the Buzzards Rock Trail offering
breathtaking cliff-top views. 5120 South St.

The Gunpowder River is beautiful all year long, but is at its most
picturesque in autumn. One of the best ways to appreciate its watery
splendor is by hiking, biking, or horseback riding the Torrey C. Brown
Rail Trail, a 21-mile path that runs along the river, and includes a
museum at the restored Monkton Train Station. Several entrances
including Monkton Station, 1820 Monkton Rd.

Pumpkin Patches

For baking or carving, there’s a great gourd for you.

Glade Link Farms: Glade Link’s fall season starts on
September 15, bringing pick-your-own pumpkins, green beans, winter
squash, and more! 12270 Woodsboro Pike, Keymar. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed
Tues. and Thurs. 301-898-7131.

Homestead Farm: Homestead has a huge selection of
apples and pumpkins in the fall, with hayrides out to the pumpkin
patches on weekends in October. 15604 Sugarland Rd., Poolesville.
Mon.-Sun. 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. 301-977-3761.

Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch: With 15 acres of pumpkins to
choose from, hayrides, a petting zoo, and a corn maze, Jumbo’s offers
tons of family fun. 6521 Holter Rd., Middletown. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Rodgers’ Farms at North Run Farm: In addition to
pick-your-own pumpkins, the farm has one of the most impressive corn
mazes around. Opens September 17. 1818 Greenspring Valley Rd.,
Stevenson. Fri. 12-6 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 410-241-3392.

Sharp’s at Waterford Farm: On weekends, this Howard
County farm offers free hayrides to their pumpkin patches. 4003 Jennings
Chapel Rd., Brookeville. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5
p.m. 410-489-2572.

Summers Farm: Starting September 24, this farm
offers more than a pumpkin patch, with fun activities like pig races and
pony rides. 5614 Butterfly Ln., Frederick. Times vary. 301-620-9316.