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Foliage Report | Fall Color Spreading Across New England

Posted Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
Foliage Report | Fall Color Spreading Across New England
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Another week of absolutely perfect weather in New England to chronicle in this week’s foliage report! After the incessant rains of summer lasted into early September, most never would’ve imagined a stretch of weather like this to begin the autumn season.  Warm, sunny days and cool nights bring out the best foliage colors, and we’ve been going on almost three weeks of these near flawless conditions.

Leaf peepers and locals alike have been reveling in the great weather, filling parks, trails, orchards, and fairs.  The Deerfield Fair in southern New Hampshire doubled its attendance over the year prior, marking the first time in my memory that the fair ran with no rain at all.  In northern New Hampshire, a line of cars formed along Route 16 waiting to turn onto the Mount Washington Auto Road to view the epic conditions from above.  And in the many areas of New England, photographers were treated to a dramatic display of morning mist that filled the valleys as the sun rose each day this weekend.

Morning Mist Fills the Valleys of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom This Weekend.
Photo/Art by Jennifer Hannux
Morning Mist Fills the Valleys of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom This Weekend.

The best news about the weather though is that the fall colors are responding incredibly well to it!

Those who ventured out this past weekend in the far northern portions of New England were treated to colors that were already peaking.  The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, north of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and the mountains of western Maine around Rangeley all were at or very near peak last weekend, and continue to hold great color for the coming weekend as well!

The color that has emerged in these regions is generally good this year, but there are certainly some areas coming in brighter than others.  The most striking foliage we’ve seen has been just north of Franconia Notch in New Hampshire, where red hillsides were almost overwhelming.  Elsewhere though, oranges dominated the landscape at elevation, with reds generally restricted to the valleys and wetlands, consistent with expectations after a wet summer.

Northern White Mountains
Photo/Art by Jim Salge
The Northern White Mountains in New Hampshire Peaked Last Weekend.

Leaf peepers this weekend will now have far greater options than last, as color is filling much of northern New England now.  Some major leaf peeping areas are poised to peak this coming weekend including Smuggler’s Notch and Stowe in Vermont, the western White Mountains in New Hampshire, and Baxter State Park in Maine. These areas are emerging either right at, or a bit ahead of their historical average peaking times, with the common thread between them being both latitude and elevation.

Baxter State Park Showed Great Color Last Weekend, and Will Peak This Week
Photo/Art by Susan Cole Kelly
Baxter State Park Showed Great Color Last Weekend, and Will Peak This Week

Further south and east, widespread color is just beginning to emerge across the lower elevations of Maine, the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and Southern Vermont and Western Massachusetts, all a bit ahead of schedule.  These areas will be tempting leaf peepers for the first time this season, and will continue to develop before peaking in the next week or two, depending on conditions moving forward.

Southern New England, though mostly green as of yet, has some bright color as well, thanks to the banner year in the wetlands for the swamp maples.  Stunning reds and crimsons dot the landscapes in low elevation wetlands all the way to the Rhode Island and Connecticut coast.

Two areas of relative bad news to highlight this week before signing off:  First, the forecast this weekend is not as favorable as past weeks, with some periods of clouds and showers around.  It doesn’t look like a washout at all, and a little wet weather can make for great foliage photography.

Small Scenes and Foliage Detail Are Often Better Photographed in Cloudy Weather
Photo/Art by Jim Salge
Small Scenes and Foliage Detail Are Often Better Photographed in Cloudy Weather

Secondly, a leaf fungus continues to emerge in certain areas, causing a premature turning and dulling of the foliage.  It’s spotty, and isolated, but certain iconic spots are going to have less than ideal colors this year.  A few miles away, conditions will likely be completely different, so don’t be discouraged if you find a dull spot.

For those looking to keep up with conditions, offers great tools on their Web site.  Our interactive foliage map allows you to send in reports, and our foliage app gives you access to the map on the road.

We also maintain a Facebook Page with daily pictures and reports from across New England, and encourage you to share tales of your travels there as well!

Hope you get the chance to enjoy the colors this weekend!

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 2nd, 2013
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