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Foliage Report | Peak Color Holds On In Southern New England

Foliage Report | Peak Color Holds On In Southern New England
4 votes, 4.25 avg. rating (83% score)
Posted Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

By late October, New England very much has a split personality.

Southern New England is finally seeing the peak of their autumn color, and it’s been a long time coming. For weeks, residents of these areas have been teased by images of brilliant foliage from their neighbors to the north, in print, on the news, and all over the internet. Finally the color is theirs to enjoy and share, as widespread golds, oranges and occasional reds fill the landscape.

Meanwhile, Northern New England has lost most of the canopy, and there are signs that the long winter season in settling in. The cold front that moved through earlier this week dusted the hilltops with snow, and a skim of ice has covered smaller ponds in the mountains. Though much of the foliage now lays on the ground, there are still a few specific habitats where the color remains even though the majority of the landscape has faded to dull.

The links between these two regions of New England are many, despite the difference in the apparent seasons. Large flocks of blackbirds are flying through the Northeast now, lifting from noisy roosts each morning. Geese will join the migration overhead soon, with special attention to the snow geese that fly down the middle of the Atlantic flyway. The preparation for Halloween binds the region as well, as local farms with pumpkin patches drawing families to the fields. There is one connection this late October in particular though that has bonded all of us New England, aka Red Sox Nation – World Series Fever!

For those going out leaf peeping this weekend, the options are still pretty wide, but with each passing cold front, the range dwindles a bit more.

Color is Coming On Strong Across Rhode Island, and the Scene at Slater Mill Should Peak This Weekend

Photo/Art by Susan Cole Kelly
Color is Coming On Strong Across Rhode Island, and the Scene at Slater Mill Should Peak This Weekend

The best color this weekend will be found in Southern and Eastern Connecticut, all of Rhode Island, and Southeast Massachusetts, including the Blue Hills just outside of the Boston. In these areas, the sugar maples are peaking, and the oaks are emerging for a nice show of widespread color. A lack of consistent clear, cold nights recently has the color lacking a real red punch this year in many areas, but the oranges and golds that dominate the palate are certainly eye catching.

Another great area to visit this time of year are the Cape and the Islands off Massachusetts. It’s a quiet time, with empty beaches and uncrowded towns, with great foliage and an added bonus of the ongoing cranberry harvest in flooded bogs.

The areas just to the north, from the Litchfield Hills up through the Berkshires, and over to the southern coast of Maine through southern Vermont and New Hampshire will all be past peak this weekend, but not without color. River valleys are holding strong with late maples, but otherwise much of the bright maple color lays on the ground. The forest has a beautiful muted tone from tall rusty oaks and golden beeches, as well as a host of younger trees below the canopy who are yet stubbornly holding their leaves. The coastal areas especially have a dominance of oaks in the forests around the bays and marshes, and are well worth a trip to see.

The Oaks Along the Coasts Of Maine and New Hampshire Down to Cape Ann Are Peaking This Weekend.

Photo/Art by Jim Salge
The Oaks Along the Coasts Of Maine and New Hampshire Down to Cape Ann Are Peaking This Weekend.

Between these two zones lies the city of Boston itself, a hub of activity this week with the World Series in town. The city itself is some of the last land to turn in all of New England, and still has a significant number of leaves yet to turn at all. Peak may not come to the city parks and proms until early November.

Finally, in the far north now, the only remaining prospects of color are in the understory of forests where young beech trees dominate. These hillsides rarely look impressive from the outside as the large trees are all but bare, but while hiking on mountain trails, the color that surrounds you down low can be surprisingly magical.

The Understory of the Forests in the Northern Zones Hold Great Color In Young Beech Trees

Photo/Art by John Compton
The Understory of the Forests in the Northern Zones Hold Great Color In Young Beech Trees

One last note this week, we’ve been surprised by how fast the season progresses through peak this year, with peak color only lasting under a week or so in many spots. If you find good color, savor it, as it won’t last long! And be sure to share your reports both on our foliage map and our Facebook page!

Hope you get out this weekend…and GO SOX!

 

Jim Salge

Author:

Jim Salge

Biography:

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.

3 Responses to Foliage Report | Peak Color Holds On In Southern New England

  1. John Compton October 23, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    “These hillsides rarely look impressive from the outside as the large trees are all but bare, but while hiking on mountain trails, the color that surrounds you down low can be surprisingly magical.”

    Jim, your statement that I quoted above is so insightful! I sort of view the showy performance of the forest’s upper canopy to be the main event. Then, once that show closes, you need to search for some ‘off-Broadway’ performances by the lower canopy performers.

    I’m delighted that you used one of my photos to illustrate the colorful ‘magic’ that can be found in late Autumn, even after the large trees have shed their leaves.

  2. Sue Kelly October 24, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    You nailed it, Jim! While I wouldn’t make any long-range foliage pilgrimage this weekend, I surely will enjoy driving the back roads in search of farmstands.

  3. mary jane greenlee July 18, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Can you give me some sense of what would be a good time to come to Maine for the fall foliage? thank you

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