Planning A New England Foliage Trip Online
I just got in from walking the dogs, and it’s definitely one going to be one of those cool August evenings that helps you realize that autumn is round the corner. Temperatures are forecast to drop into the lower forties, and maybe even a few thirties across northern New England. It’s not out of the ordinary to have a fall like night in late August, but it also is not the norm to stay cool thereafter. It’s really just another turn on the roller coaster of weather this past week, complete with three rounds of strong thunderstorms, heat, humidity, and now a cool clear night.
This past weekend I drove around the northern White Mountains, and found the occasional tree in full autumn display. Like a cool August night, this is not unusual. A few trees are bound to show some signs of stress even in the best of years, and begin to change early. Most often, these trees are on roadsides, ledges, in poor soil, or have been under siege by insects. The production of bright red pigments is a way to protect the leaf and extend the season a bit. Swamp maples are also notorious for this early color right as school is starting back, and local wetlands are great places to do your first peeping.
While early foliage color remains sparse, and will for a few more weeks, flowers provide the best opportunities for widespread color in New England this time of year. The yellows of goldenrod will soon begin to fade as the blues and purples of asters come on strong. A visit to a sunny stream bank will often yield copious cardinal flowers, a blazing red flower with stronger pigment than the most intense autumn maple. And gardens and porches will soon be replanted with some hardy mums for autumn!
Cool nights and reports of early leaves also have people rushing to solidify their autumn plans. Many people plan their trips on nostalgia, visiting and revisiting places that are important to family, or that stir strong memories. Others are taking a once in a lifetime trip to view the leaves, and in between the two extremes are people looking for a combination of adventure and beauty. Wherever you fall on this continuum, everyone relies on foliage data to plan, and in the digital age, there are many opportunities to gather data for planning a New England foliage trip.
I hope that a first stop for any foliage enthusiast is Yankee Foliage. You’ll find great information on peak times, made possible by spotters and foliage enthusiasts like you. It’s easy to participate by contributing your reports, either on the website, or through the new Foliage App for iPhone or Android. The site also great travel recommendations for those looking for a new place to go, and an active community both in the forums and on their Facebook page. If you are planning a trip, you’ll find plenty of people more than willing to help there!
I’ve become pretty adept at taking digital foliage scouting to a few deeper levels too. Previewing an autumn drive in Google Earth is a good start, and turning on the ‘photos layer’ in Google Maps can really provide insight on specific locations to visit.
Searching for a town or attraction on photo sites like Flickr can also highlight opportunities, especially with so many photos geo-tagged. And one of the most reliable resources for gauging current color are the many webcams that dot the region. Thorough planning before I leave makes for a much more enjoyable experience when among the leaves!
I hope you find some of these online tools useful, and that you enjoy the process of planning and seeing all that the region has to offer this fall. We’ll see you soon!