Courtesy of yankeemagazine/Instagram
A Vermont town has closed its roads to the public in an effort to keep out hordes of social media influencers hoping to capture footage of fall foliage.
The Town of Pomfret, which sits just a few miles from the border with New Hampshire, fully or partially closed significant stretches of two main roads to non-residents on Sept. 23 due to “extraordinary tourism interest in private properties,” according to a memo issued by the town’s select board last month.
The closures of Cloudland Road and Barber Hill Road will remain in effect through Oct. 15, according to the memo.
The board voted to close the roads to traffic and prohibit roadside parking after tourist traffic during foliage season steadily increased in recent years, “causing significant safety, environmental, aesthetic, and quality of life issues.”
The Pomfret Highway Department installed signage and barriers to alert tourists to altered traffic routes, and area residents will monitor and replace any disturbed barriers.
The town’s board also called on the Windsor County Sheriff to patrol the closure area to enforce the traffic changes.
“The Pomfret Selectboard recognizes that the traffic pattern changes and other steps summarized in this memo cannot fully address the significant issues created by fall foliage traffic along Cloudland Road and Barber Hill Road. We also appreciate these steps may inconvenience area residents, their guests, and others,” the memo stated.
“Nonetheless, we believe these actions will significantly improve safety and quality of life for residents most severely affected by increased foliage season traffic. We thank the Pomfret and Woodstock communities for their patience and careful adherence to these temporary changes so that they may have their intended effect,” the memo stated.
The protected area includes Sleepy Hollow Farm, an especially popular destination for Instagram and TikTok users, who have posted thousands of videos and images under the hashtag #sleepyhollowfarm. Some posts show crowds of tourists surrounding the private property, with some even entering despite a posted “No Trespassing” sign.
The recent uptick in tourists trampling private property is partly a consequence of Vermont’s previous drives to attract tourists during fall foliage season.
Vermont has long been a destination for fall foliage tours, thanks to its high concentration of maple trees in particular. In 2015, the state’s tourism department declared Vermont home to the World’s Best Foliage.
“No one does foliage better than Vermont,” then-Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a statement at the time. “Three-quarters of our state is forested, and we have the highest percentage of maple trees in the country. With our flaming reds, blazing oranges, and glowing yellows, we have the most vibrant fall colors in the world.”
According to Megan Smith, then Commissioner for the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, tourism during fall foliage season brought $460 million into the state, representing about a quarter of all tourist spending annually.
“Our fall advertising campaign will articulate the myriad reasons we have the World’s Best Foliage,” Smith said at the time. “Our hope is that people will be inspired to come see it for themselves.”
TMX contributed to this article.