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20 Tips: Dos and Don'ts for Leaf Peepers

20 Tips: Dos and Don’ts for Leaf Peepers
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by in Jul 2007

10. DO wake early. The colors will be most vivid with the morning dew and morning light. Watching the dawn mist rise off our forest-ringed lakes and rivers may be the best treat of all.

11. DO linger to enjoy the late-afternoon light. The deep shadows late in the day set off all colors against areas of darkness.

12. DO have lodging reservations during the late September to mid-October prime leaf-watching period. DON’T expect to stay but one night. Most places expect a two-night minimum during foliage.

13. DON’T let your lack of lodging stop your visit. Local Vermont chambers of commerce, for instance, keep a quiet list of hospitable locals who open up that spare room in their homes for intrepid leaf watchers. If possible, DO come midweek.

14. DO look skyward, especially if you’re hiking. Mid- to late September is when thousands of broad-winged hawks ride the thermals south. The raptor migration is worthy of a trip in itself.

15. DON’T be a color snob and ignore everything except bright reds. Trees exhibit an astonishing range of colors. Foliage season means subtle shadings of peach and corals and apricot, the subtle yellows of beech and birch, the soft browns and purples. DON’T let rain keep you indoors. Wet weather brings out the most vivid colors.

16. DO go beyond where most people go. Vermonters have a saying: When good people die, they go to Vermont. When good Vermonters die, they go to the Northeast Kingdom — but relatively few tourists do.

17. DO visit northern Maine for wondrous color with few crowded roads. But DON’T ever think you have the right-of-way when approaching a logging truck on the narrow roads.

18. DO let New Englanders help you find the prime local foliage spots. Best bet for advice: district forest rangers. Many of them are “leaf spotters,” asked by the state to report daily and weekly on foliage conditions in their area. Their pride in their home vistas spills over if you stop in at their headquarters and ask where they would go.

19. DO include valleys and the seacoast in your travels. Though most people head to the mountains, in fact the lowland areas boast the brightest and earliest colors. Look for the swamp maples surrounding the marshes.

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