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Foliage Report | Bright Colors Now Fading Across New England

Posted Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
Foliage Report | Bright Colors Now Fading Across New England
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By late October, the foliage over just about all of New England has passed its peak.

This is not to say that there aren’t still leaves, even colorful leaves, left on the trees in Central and Southern New England.  The remaining color is generally muted though, with strong rust and brown tones dominating over the reds, oranges and yellows of peak.  Oaks are holding their leaves late this year, and young beeches are always last to turn.  In the right light, it still looks beautiful.

Two Dogs Run Through A Beech Forest With Late Color Near New Hampshire's Seacoast
Photo/Art by Kevin Talbot
Two Dogs Run Through A Beech Forest With Late Color Near New Hampshire’s Seacoast

Their time left on the trees is growing short though, as now with each passing day, each gust of wind and each chilly night, more and more of the remaining leaves find their way to the ground.

There are a few unfortunate realities to late autumn which have begun to set in.  The first is the fall cleanup.  All of the beautiful leaves of yesterweek now litter the lawns and flowerbeds and need to be moved to compost.  The second reality is the fact that there is an very definite time limit to completing this task.  Once the ground freezes, or persistent snows fall, your time is up.

In the mountains and the far north, time is already quite limited.  Snows now blanket the highest peaks, and snow showers have briefly whitened the ground all the way to the valley floor.  Smoke rises from chimneys in early morning, fueled from neatly stacked woodpiles which will only grow smaller from here on out.  Foliage is a distant memory.

Snow Geese Fill the Skies and the Fields in the Champlain Valley of Vermont
Photo/Art by Jane Ogilvie
Snow Geese Fill the Skies and the Fields in the Champlain Valley of Vermont

A sea of white has also moved into the fields, wetlands and wildlife management areas across the Champlain Valley of Vermont as the autumn snow goose migration is in full swing.  Earlier this week, over 5000 migrants were counted at the Dead Creek Wildlife Area in Vergennes, Vermont and those who witnessed the cloud of birds lifting off above the snow capped mountains in the distance were left in awe!

For those hoping for lingering foliage color this coming weekend, the brightest color will be much nearer to the coast.  The South Shore of Massachusetts is showing great color still, as are the Cape and the Islands.  The City of Boston itself is one of the last places to turn, and the peaking colors will provide a great backdrop if we are fortunate to be treated to a celebratory parade in the next week.  Go Sox!

Fall foliage at Bremen Street Park, East Boston
Photo/Art by Susan Cole Kelly
Fall foliage at Bremen Street Park, East Boston

Rhode Island is a good pick for lingering bright maples, as is Connecticut near the Long Island Sound.  City parks, town commons and cemeteries typically have large maples that turn late, and riverbanks and lakeshores tend to be lingering bright spots as well.

North of the immediate coast, oak forests are holding color late this year, and their color brightens hillsides throughout Connecticut as well as all of Eastern Massachusetts.  The further north you go from there though, the less vibrant the color, and the fewer the leaves.  Beech trees in the understory are still a glow golden up into southern Vermont and New Hampshire, but by the time you hit the northern New England mountains, it’s nearly all gone.

With the majority of the color behind us, it’s a great time to sort through your autumn photographs and consider entering your best into the Yankee Magazine Fall Foliage Photo Contest.  We will be accepting entries until the fifteenth of November.

Enjoy the lingering autumn!

Jim Salge


Jim Salge


As a former meteorologist at the Mount Washington Observatory, foliage reporter Jim Salge is a keen observer of the progression of the seasons in New England. He uses his knowledge of weather, geography and climate to pinpoint the best time to visit various New England locations to find the best light, atmosphere, and most importantly, color.
Updated Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
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