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Foliage Report | Find Unique Ways to See New England Fall Foliage

Posted Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Foliage Report | Find Unique Ways to See New England Fall Foliage
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Late last week, a cold front ushered in a brief preview of forthcoming autumn-like weather into the region. Over the weekend, New Englanders awoke to cloudless skies and refreshing temperatures, which even dropped into the forties in many areas of the northern tier. The cool air caused heavy condensation in the air above fields, and the first fall-like mist of the season danced over lakes and ponds.

Cool Weather This Past Weekend Created Fall Like Mornings Across New England
Photo/Art by Jim Salge
Cool Weather This Past Weekend Created Fall Like Mornings Across New England

It’s a pattern that will repeat itself with increasing regularity as fall draws closer, with warm days descending into cool nights, before daybreaks dawn crisp and clear. New England sunrises in autumn can be spectacular, as the soft light pierces through the low hanging mists and colorful trees. The effects can be nothing short of magical.

Cool nights, like the ones over the weekend can accelerate the color changes, and isolated stressed trees across the region are now already beginning to show their colors. You might see these trees in swamps and wetlands, on rocky outcroppings or along highways. This year, these trees tend to be in the minority after a seasonable spring and ample rainfall this summer, but when you see one, it definitely catches your eye. Its nothing unusual, and no cause for alarm, as we are still over a month away from even the earliest peak in northern New England!

Isolated Stressed Trees Are Showing Foliage Previews After Last Week's Cool Weather
Photo/Art by Jim Block
Isolated Stressed Trees Are Showing Foliage Previews After Last Week’s Cool Weather


The cool weather certainly did not last long either, and a return to the warm and muggy will be a fitting sendoff to this summer during the Labor Day Weekend. The weather has also remained relatively rain free, now for the better part of two weeks across the region, which is good news for the foliage. As we highlighted in last week’s blog, after the incredibly wet summer, the drier our autumn weather turns, the better our foliage will be.

After the first foliage blog went live last week, we began to hear from travelers from all over the world who will be visiting the region this upcoming season. New England rolls out the red carpet for these guests, with fairs and festivals set amidst a backdrop of our amazing foliage. Leaf peeping though remains the most popular autumn activity and there are many ways to partake.

The automobile remains the standard leaf peeping machine, and offers great suggestions for colorful routes. There are even a dozen or so mountains that you can ascend by car, skipping the hike to enjoy an apex view of endless colors.

There are many other ways to view the colors this autumn, ranging from ultra relaxing to the extremely exhilarating, in all modes on land, through water and in the air.

At the most serene end of the spectrum, consider a hot air balloon ride above the foliage. New England has many small hot air balloon tour companies who launch every weekend in the fall, often at sunrise or sunset for the best light and color. Another option powered by nothing more than the wind is a sailing adventure along the coast of Maine in a Windjammer schooner. This past summer I was invited to sail on the Isaac H. Evans, and could only imagine how incredible an October cruise would be!

Maine Windjammer Cruises Offer a Relaxing Way to Experience Fall Foliage Along Maine's Coast
Photo/Art by Jim Salge
Maine Windjammer Cruises Offer a Relaxing Way to Experience Fall Foliage Along Maine’s Coast

Sticking with the on the water theme, many of the largest inland lakes in New England have grand tour boats with day cruises continuing into the fall season. Trips aboard the MS Mount Washington on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and the Songo River Queen on Long Lake in Maine are very popular in autumn, and Katahdin Cruises in Moosehead Lake will allow you to combine a cruise with a hike of beautiful Mount Kineo!

In Connecticut, you can combine a tour on the Connecticut River on the Becky Thatcher with a connecting ride on the Essex Steam train ride through the surrounding river valley. Additionally for rail fans, tourism trains like the Conway Scenic Railroad and Hobo Railroad wind through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, while much of Vermont and Coastal Maine are accessible via passenger rail.

For those looking for a bit more adventure, many of the area ski resorts spin their ski lifts and gondolas in the fall, suspending guests at eye level with the treetop foliage. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Cannon Tramway in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire, which brings you to the four thousand foot high summit for ultimate views.

The ultimate foliage thrill though, and the newest and most exciting way to see the Northeast’s autumn color is now by zipline and canopy tour. There are now ziplines in every New England state, ranging from a few hundred feet to nearly a mile long. Zipping through the treetops during peak foliage is sure to be and autumn experience you’ll never forget!

Whether it’s during an annual visit, or a once in a lifetime vacation, we hope that you consider the various unique options that the area offers for leaf peepers during this upcoming beautiful season. We’ll keep you posted weekly about the progress of the autumn colors as the season draws near!

Until then, have a great holiday 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, August 28th, 2013
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