Autumn in New England is beautiful, but fleeting. As the colorful leaves begin to fall, time seems to speed up. Just weeks ago, daylight equaled darkness, but now the night outlives the day by two hours, and the difference is noticeable. As more and more color lays on the ground, chores pile up as fast as the leaves in the yard, and we balance our time on nice days between enjoying the season and preparing for the next. The bite in the air that felt so welcome on the end of summer now seems a harbinger of the coming winter.
There is plenty of good news in this week’s report after a rather difficult few weeks for leaf peepers. After nearly a month of incessant clouds and untimely rainfall, after winds whipped and the first snows fell, things are looking up in central and southern zones in New England. The region has come out of an atypical mid-season foliage lull, the colors have come roaring back in a good portion of Central and Southern New England over the past few days.
The problem turned out to be the early color itself this year, which came in well ahead of normal. When the clouds and rain came in late September though, the reinforcements got held up, leading to a gap in the color continuity. Early color lay on the ground, and much of the rest of the leaves remained green or muted. Now a second wave has finally emerged, and though not as full and robust as peak in a typical year, the trees look good and color is abundant.
Sadly, this seasonal recovery comes too late in northern areas, which have shed most of their leaves. The mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, as well as the Northeast Kingdom and Crown of Maine count in the areas where the season has largely run its course. That is not to say that there aren’t things to see, or even patches or lingering foliage, but the main show of reds and oranges is done. Young beech trees hold the majority of the remaining color, and visitors this weekend will their find beautiful warm rust tones in the understory. As an added bonus, with most of the leaves down, it’s easier to spot wildlife, and odds are good that you could encounter an amorous moose on the move during the rut.
Moving south into the Lakes Regions of New Hampshire and Maine, and on over to the coastlines, you find the heart of the reemergence of autumn color. Acadia especially has great color right now, as does much of the mid-coast. This is near the normal peak time for these areas, but it’s anything but a normal peak. Some trees are long since bare, some remain green yet, but there is a dominance of color awaiting visitors.
New Hampshire’s Merrimack Valley is a surprise gem of color right now, and offers some neat attractions like the Shaker Village, the Frost Homestead and New England’s Stonehenge. It also might be a nice week to hike the miles of easy trails around Lake Massabesic, and visit the Audubon Property there by the undeveloped shorelines.
Into Southern New England, a more traditional peak will be found the further south that you travel. Central and Eastern Massachusetts have nice color right now, with only immediate coastal towns, Boston proper and the Cape lagging behind a bit. It definately isn’t going to be the best color year in these regions, but plenty of nice color can be found. The smaller towns around the Route 495 cooridor, as well as the Merrimack River Valley and the Blue Hills all are a great bet this weekend!
Northern Connecticut may have the brightest color in all of New England this weekend, with peak coming in to our twice selected ‘Best Foliage Town’ of Kent, Connecticut. For those in Eastern Connecticut, a drive down Route 169, through mixed farm, forest and field would make for a great day this weekend.
It may have been a bit of an unconventional route, but we’re definitely showing some great color all around Southern New England. After much promise and early color, there was good reason to worry, but it looks like this is a great weekend to be out and about, taking in the autumn color.
While you are exploring, be sure to send us a report back either on our foliage Facebook page, or through our foliage app. And if you capture that quintessential picture of fall foliage, be sure to enter it in our photography contest, which runs through November 15th.
We’ll see you out amongst the leaves!