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Mountains of Northern New England Showing Great Color

Mountains of Northern New England Showing Great Color
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Posted Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

At long awaited last, the high to peak color is arriving in the mountains of Northern New England.

To be honest, I’ve actually been quite surprised how strongly the color came on in the past week. The weather has been not very fall-like, and certainly not ideal for the colors to start popping. A strong, stagnant upper level low over the Midwest has kept a stream of soupy air over the entire region. For almost a week now, it has felt more like early August than late September. When my wife and I went apple picking with the dogs this weekend, we were uncomfortably hot, even in shorts. I had to run the air conditioner at night after canning my concord grape jelly, because the house simply wouldn’t cool down. The humidity has been downright tropical, the skies more gray than clear, and the showers plentiful, but still the color has arrived!

Ellie in the Orchard

Hot Time, Autumn in the Orchard

It’s always amazing how fast the color comes on too. Seemingly overnight, the landscape makes the final push from fading greens to bright colors. I noticed the jump last Thursday on the home commute in New Hampshire’s Merrimack Valley. The whole way home, I was wide eyed, thinking “the colors weren’t this bright this morning.”

Right now, nearly all of the mountains of Northern New England are showing great color. The Greens, Whites, Mahoosucs and the Appalachians of Maine all are nearing peak at moderate elevations. The Berkshires aren’t too far behind, but likely need another week to ripen. Reds have been the most prevalent color so far, standing out strongly against the greens, which are becoming less dominant by the day. Oranges and yellows are present as well, but have yet to come on as strong. It may actually be a down year for yellows, with many birches in poor condition, which will allow the reds to reign paramount. No complaints there.

Local geographic variation has also been very strong this year. Towns in lower elevations and river valleys have very little color yet, while surrounding hillsides and higher elevation villages are very strong. A great example of this variation is in the Berlin / Gorham area of New Hampshire. A twenty minute drive to places like Jefferson Village, Jericho Mountains State Park or Pinkham Notch will take you from very early color to near peak. Overall, the color is setting up to be good this year, perhaps a bit late in some areas.

Jericho Mountain State Park

Jericho Mountain State Park and the Mahoosuc Range, October 3, 2010

For travelers this upcoming weekend, there are going to be two keys to a great trip. The first key is going to be elevation. Anywhere in, through, near or overlooking any of the mountains in New England will provide landscapes filled with color. Great drives might include Smugglers Notch in Vermont, Crawford Notch in New Hampshire, or Grafton Notch in Maine. For hikers, the area in and around Baxter State Park should be exceptional. Camels Hump State Park and Groton State Forest offer varied hiking opportunities in Vermont, and in New Hampshire, the Appalachian Mountain Club is offering a free trial of their online White Mountain Guide with ten great foliage hikes hand selected for the season.

Crawford Notch

Crawford Notch at Peak in Early October 2007

The second key is going to be a watchful eye on the weather. This persistent pattern looks to finally break around the weekend, but uncertainty remains. Early indications suggest that a coastal storm could trigger the departure of the Midwest storm Friday or Saturday. This shouldn’t surprise anyone in the southeastern part of New Hampshire, who know that it always pours at least one day of the beloved Deerfield Fair. If it stays clear, the Deerfield Fair is far from the only game in town, with great fall favorites like the Fryeburg Fair, Topsfield Fair and the Eastern States Expo, or simply, The Big E. And if the rain does come in, there is a solid silver lining. The gray skies make for great foliage pictures, and the rainfall makes streams and waterfalls more energetic and photogenic.

Thompson Falls

Thompson Falls in Pinkham Notch on a Rainy Day

If you can’t travel this weekend, and are waiting until Columbus Day weekend, there promises to even more widespread color next weekend as peak moves down from the mountains. Areas east and south of the northern mountains, like around Conway, New Hampshire, Woodstock, Vermont, or North Adams, Massachusetts should finally get into the act for the three day weekend. Barring any large storms, the trees in the mountains shouldn’t have any real impetus for dropping their leaves early either.

To follow the foliage from your computer this week, besides YankeeFoliage.com, be sure to follow our facebook page, and our Mobile App. Some other Facebook pages that I’ve been infatuated with have been:

Yankee Foliage
White Mountains, New Hampshire
Maine Office of Tourism
Visit Vermont
Visit New Hampshire
Visit Massachusetts

And if you do travel, be sure to take some pictures and send in your reports. I’ll see you out there!

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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.

14 Responses to Mountains of Northern New England Showing Great Color

  1. Michelle Brenholtz September 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Great blog! And awesome pics! Thanks for the update! My Mom is coming in from Michigan and we are looking forward to the foliage from Sunday-Thursday. :)

    Michelle

  2. Sue Kelly September 27, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    Holy cow, you have some great stuff! We haven’t seen good reds for a couple of years, so I’m really psyched to get out this weekend. Thanks for all the great research, Jim!

  3. Suzanne DeGeorge September 27, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Love your photos and your blog Jim! Thanks for the updates each week!

  4. Michael Nolan September 28, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Great pictures we are doing a Columbus day weekend in Bethel Maine anyone have any reports on that area for foliage viewing?

    • Jim Salge September 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

      Bethel is just east of Gorham/Berlin, which I’ve had reports from…those towns haven’t peaked yet, and should be great next weekend!

      Good luck!

  5. Steve Forrest September 28, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Wow that is great news. My wife & I are from Florida. We have spent the first two weeks in October in North Conway every year since 1993.Love New Hampshire hope to retire there soon.I even had the city engrave a sidewalk stone in front of Zebs to my wife on our 40th anniversary. Can’t wait!

  6. Katharine Langenberg September 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Really enjoy your blog and all your photos…real inspiration. Your writing is so entertaining and love all the visuals. Can’t wait for cooler weather and the beautiful NE fall foliage of early October!

  7. Diana Krumrey September 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    I love your pictures. My sisters and I are going to be in the Cape Cod area October 14 – 18, 2011. Are there any areas that you would recommend for us to go? Do you have any picture tips that you can give me? I am an amateur photographer and would love to get some shots of the beautiful east coast.

  8. Judy September 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Thanks, my hubby and I will be heading to Mass the mid of Oct..Hoping to be able to see some of this gorgeous time of the year.

  9. Sue Kelly September 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Diane, I shoot foliage on the Cape every year. That far south, there are few maples but plenty of oaks, and the peak color is later than the mountains. Try villages for great color around country churches. Wellfleet and Harwich come to mind, and West Barnstable has a great church common. Route 6A on the north side of the Cape should give you lovely views. As well as the oaks, look for deep golden grass in the many marshes and especially near water. Try Scargo Tower in Dennis for a great view of foliage and water and check out the harbors. Also try to find cranberry bogs – try Harwich along Route 134 (just N of Rt 6). The bogs are bright red and there might be a cranberry festival mid-October. Enjoy your trip!

  10. Shiv October 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    visiting lake george area columbus day weekend, do you think we will be able to see good foliage colars in that area or would we have to travel north to experience good colors.

  11. joan slavin October 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    we drove from york, maine to caribou, maine last week and if there are beautiful leaves in Baxter or around Moosehead Lake, i don’t know where they were. we were so disappointed….all the leaves were without color and i guess damaged by the rain and fungus….all we saw were brown, tiny leaves on the trees…with practically no color.

    • Jim Salge October 13, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

      Joan,

      Sorry to hear that…there has been a lot of marginal foliage this year…this blog was written at the beginning of a long stretch of rain and gray…before which there was great color, and during which, we lost a lot of what we gained to the fungus. Later blogs certainly are more reflective of what you experienced unfortunately.

      There has been great color around, you just have to work harder to find it this year it seems!

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