The northern woodlands of Maine, NH and Vermont will be showing high color this weekend!
Photo Credit : Jim Salge
Autumn officially arrives this week, and with it comes all the anticipation of what the fall season brings to New England. Cool, crisp mornings await adventurers on early hikes, and warm sunny days accompany apple pickers at local orchards. Fair season is in full swing, and farm stands are flush with the summer’s bounty. And of course the beautiful colors of our region’s legendary fall foliage will soon be draped across the landscape!
2017 FOLIAGE UPDATE: COLOR ARRIVING EARLY IN NORTHERN NEW ENGLAND
This year, emerging patches of bright foliage prove that some trees haven’t waited for the calendar before changing color. We’ve been hearing reports throughout the region of leaves beginning to turn already, and images of this early color are filling our social media.
Most of these photographs have been taken where the swamp maples — which are in the earliest ecosystems to turn — are having a brilliant year. Other pictures highlight such things as an orange tree on the town green, still showing signs of stress from last year’s drought, and birch trees on the ledge along a road where the soils are thin. These small scenes offer a sneak peek at the big show coming in a few weeks.
This year, though, we are most intrigued by the shots coming from the far north, where more widespread color has quickly speckled the landscape with some stunning early reds. Specifically, the high elevations of the northern White Mountains in New Hampshire and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont have localized foliage color that is about a week ahead of schedule.
THE REASON FOR EARLY FALL COLOR
The reason for this early foliage display is simple: We’ve had a run of the type of classic autumn weather that brings out the best colors. The Mount Washington Observatory, located on a summit renowned for its severe weather, has had nine days without a drop of precipitation. A few cool nights in mid-September kick-started the process, and the recent string of warm, sunny days is promoting the formation of the strong red pigments.
We don’t expect anywhere in New England to quite reach peak foliage by this weekend, but there are some great options for early leaf-peepers.
GREAT ROUTES FOR EARLY LEAF-PEEPERS
Routes 5 and 5A through the Northeast Kingdom feature the type of variation in terrain that brings travelers close to some early color. Route 26 in New Hampshire through Dixville Notch has lots of early color this year. And Route 16 from Rangeley to Eustis, Maine, has rapidly emerging autumn color as well.
An option for the more adventurous might be a trip to some of New England’s highest peaks, where the foliage in the alpine zone is on full display. Driving to the top of Mount Washington provides the easiest access, but be sure to stick to established trails when viewing this most fragile landscape.
With color already coming on, where does it go from here?
Every foliage season is different, and this one seems to be a bit early and generally vibrant so far. But warm weather is forecast for the week ahead, and some unknowns in the tropics give us pause. The standard progression would find far northern New England reaching peak in the next seven to 10 days, with good color coming into the three northern states and the Berkshires shortly thereafter. Hopefully, there will be no curveballs.
As autumn progresses, be sure to visit NewEnglandFoliage.com for our weekly 2017 foliage forecasts and reports, as well as our live peak foliage map and everything else you need to plan your foliage trip in the region. Love Instagram? Tag your photos with #MyNewEngland for a chance to be featured on our feed.
Hope you get out to see the show with us!