Fall Drives 2009
The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, the nights are getting longer — it’s the ideal time to hit the road. Check out our local action-packed fall foliage routes
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Foliage Drive #3: Route 22
This country road transports visitors to the quaint, rustic Dutchess County of yesteryear
By Greg Ryan
At 337 miles, Route 22 is the longest north-south corridor, and the third-longest road, in the Empire State. Yet despite the byway’s tremendous length, fate has left this former cow path largely untouched by development’s homogenizing hand. And while any stretch of Route 22 is likely to wow passing leaf peepers, the Dutchess County portion is especially packed with the shops, restaurants, and historic sites you’d expect from a classic Valley drive.
Our trip on Route 22 begins, of all places, in a village on Route 44. Millbrook is only a few miles off our decided path, though, and besides — any town that can attract residents as wide-ranging as Timothy Leary and Mary Tyler Moore is too good to leave off the itinerary. Start your day at the shops on Franklin Avenue, the village’s main thoroughfare, and Front Street. There, you’ll find a handful of gift boutiques and antique stores — including the Millbrook Antiques Mall, which houses more than 40 dealers under one roof — as well as Slammin’ Salmon, a fish market; Merritt Bookstore, a knowledgeable indie dealer; and the blue-collar Reardon Briggs Hardware. Next, unwind from shopping with food or quiet reflection. The French bistro Café Les Baux offers the former, and with flair: Entrées such as les moules frites will leave you swearing to friends you dined in Paris. The 150-acre Innisfree Garden, located off Tyrell Road, offers the latter: The Chinese-style tea garden’s glacier lake, waterfalls, and many plants and floors combine to create an environment ideal for Zenning out.
As you traverse the ten miles of Route 44 that separate Millbrook from Route 22, be sure to keep an eye out for a wayward monkey or emu: The nearby Trevor Zoo, smack in the middle of rural Dutchess County, is home to more than 180 animals from five continents. Operated by the private, prestigious Millbrook School, Trevor is the only zoo in the country located on a high school campus. Its impressive animal collection includes a python, panda, tarantula, wallaby, and coral reef aquarium.
After that walk on the wild side, you come upon Route 22 in the town of Amenia. One great way to take in the arresting autumn scenery here — and since Amenia is Latin for “pleasing to the eye,” you know it’s breathtaking — is to walk, run, or bike the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, an abandoned rail line-turned-pedestrian pathway. The Amenia station leads 2.5 miles south to Wassaic (where you can spot goldenrod blooms), or, if you’re feeling ambitious, north to Coleman or even Millerton. If you’re hungry once you’re back in town, head over to Serevan. Chef Serge Madikians, an Armenian who grew up in Iran, takes full advantage of his unorthodox heritage, offering eclectic dishes such as rack of lamb with herbed labne and Medjool dates and katafi-crusted halibut with Israeli pickles. If you’re not ready to leave Amenia quite yet, check into the Hilltop House Bed & Breakfast on Depot Hill Road. The B&B has a gazebo porch, a white picket fence, and five airy rooms available for rent. Stay on a weekend, and you’ll be treated to a breakfast of omelette casserole, blue corn pancakes, or innkeeper Lou Cesa’s specialty, homemade granola.
Make sure to appreciate the view of the Taconics on your drive from Amenia to Wingdale, the next destination. That’s the home of the Webatuck Craft Village. Although the outlet is not as busy as it once was, there’s still an art gallery open during the week, and a gift shop, selling knickknacks such as beaded jewelry and glass vases, open on weekends.
Our next and final stop, about six miles down the road from Wingdale, is Pawling. Stop by McKinney & Doyle — located just off Route 22 on Charles Coleman Boulevard, it’s part restaurant, part bakery — and grab a scone or cobbler fresh from the oven. Or, if you plan on rolling into town before 3 p.m. on a weekend, make reservations for their can’t-miss brunch, highlighted by the strawberry cream cheese pancakes. Finally, why not end your drive through this storied region with a history tour? First stop is the John Kane House, an 18th-century, Federal-style building, right off Route 22 on East Main Street. A staying place for George Washington’s officers during the Revolutionary War, the house is one of the few surviving examples of pre-1750 vernacular architecture in the county. Down the road, in the Quaker Hill section of Pawling, is the Oblong Meeting House, which served as a hospital for those same troops. The main purpose of its long life, however, was as a gathering place for a local contigent of Quakers.
Route 22 Highlights:
Harlem Valley Rail Trail
Constructed on Penn Central’s former Upper Harlem railroad line, this walking and biking trail stretches from Wassaic to Millerton and provides plenty of opportunities to spot rare plant and animal life.
Hilltop House Bed & Breakfast
This classic inn offers all of the amenities you’d expect from a tried-and-true B&B: charming décor, delicious breakfasts, and tons of nooks where you can read or chat the day away.
Café Les Baux
Webatuck Crafts Village
McKinney & Doyle
Oblong Meeting House
John Kane House