When we think fall, we think foliage — the brighter, the better. Sure, a lazy October afternoon walk through a charming Vermont town is the classic way to take in the showy orange and red displays, but the best way to experience fall is with outdoor activities. And don't limit your leaf peeping to New England.

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From New Mexico to New York, here are nine ways you can putt, putter and paddle your way through spectacular autumn scenery.

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1. Zip through the trees in the Smoky Mountains

The Smokies, on the North Carolina-Tennessee border, are the perfect place to hit the heights on a zipline. Moving from the mountains early in the season to the foothills later, bright colors change the landscape for seven full weeks.

2. Cast a fly in Aspen, Colorado

Take to the rivers in early October and enjoy some late-season fly fishing on the Roaring Fork River. The Little Nell, a five-star resort in Aspen, offers a gourmet guide service that includes lunch served streamside, with wine paired by a master sommelier, for an extremely civilized morning or afternoon in the mountains.

3. Bike across a covered bridge in Eugene, Oregon

Oregon has the largest collection of covered bridges west of the Mississippi, and the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region is home to 20, dating back to as early as 1920; many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Oregon Fall Foliage Blog (updated weekly) reports on the best spots for great hikes, drives and picnics.

4. Chug up a mountain in New Hampshire's White Mountains

The legendary Mount Washington Cog Railway climbs New England's highest peak from its base in Bretton Woods. Columbus Day weekend is often the focal point of fall foliage excursions.