New England

2017 New England Fall Foliage Recap | Where We Saw the Best Color

How did this year’s foliage season stack up? Where was the best color? Read on for our 2017 fall foliage recap in our final post of the season.

By Jim Salge

Nov 03 2017

Waterskiing – Robert Kozlow

Warm Temperatures Allowed For Many Unorthodox Leaf Peeping Opportunities This Year.

Photo Credit : Robert J. Kozlow

Here in New England, large storms are not uncommon as fall transitions to winter. Strong cold fronts come sweeping down from Canada and often clash with warm air still streaming up from the south. Along these battle lines, storms can spin up quickly.

John Compton - Blowdowns
The storm that hit in late October brought down a large number of trees across New England.
Photo Credit : John Compton

Now, for the third time in six years, my final foliage report of the season recounts an epic storm that paralyzed the region. There was Snowtober in 2011. Sandy in 2012. And now, the remnants of Philippe, which brought flooding, wind, and the fourth-largest power outage in the region’s history.

Damage to trees, forests, and trail systems from this latest storm was significant — and the weather during this year’s fall foliage season shares in the blame. Simply put, autumn’s unparalleled, unabating heat and humidity caused leaves to stay on the trees longer, which led to greater damage to the landscape in this storm. It was another unlucky break after a foliage season that was full of them.


In a region renowned worldwide for the consistency of its color display, the season ended on a somewhat frustrating note for foliage fans. While our autumn outlook raised anticipation for what could have been the best season in years, our final recap falls more into the what-could-have-been category.

It’s not that 2017 was a bad year for New England fall foliage, though. In fact, the fall colors were brilliant in some places and at certain times. Yes, it was late, it was short-lived, and there were some areas where, for a variety of reasons, it was muted. But for the casual observer, it was largely beautiful — and there was a lot of exceptional weather in which to explore it.

Holt's Ledge
Beautiful colors emerged late this year but, in many places, were still vibrant.
Photo Credit : Jim Salge

It seems like a lifetime ago that this year’s fall colors began coming in early. Cool weather and an early frost over Labor Day weekend brought out early color in the hills of the far north, and swamp maples set the wetlands aglow.

Swamp Maples - 2017
Vibrant color in swamp maples emerged early in September this year.
Photo Credit : Jim Salge

Temperatures failed to stay cool, though. Parts of northern New England recorded their first-ever true heat wave this autumn, with temperatures above 90 for three consecutive days. Traditional seasonal activities like apple picking and hayrides were postponed in favor of extra beach days, and there was little flannel to be seen at the agricultural fairs.

Waterskiing - Robert Kozlow
Warm weather this fall allowed for some unusual leaf-peeping opportunities.
Photo Credit : Robert J. Kozlow


In northern New England, the beautiful colors arrived between one and three weeks late, but they were surprisingly stunning. And a run of beautiful, warm, dry weekends beckoned people outside to enjoy the show.

Mount Pemigewasset - Chris Whiton
Fall colors in northern New England arrived late this year.
Photo Credit : Chris Whiton

The atypically warm and dry weather was not without consequences, as the dry leaves didn’t last long on the trees. This definitely impacted southern New England’s fall colors more severely. There, the leaves turned late, and in some cases were dry and green when the big storm hit.

Which brings us to now: recovering.

But also: reflecting.

This year was a good reminder of everything that a New England autumn offers beyond fall foliage. The culture, community, events, and outdoor activities are as much a part of the leaf-peeping experience as the leaves themselves. It was great to experience all of this independently while waiting for the colors to come in this year. And when the color did come in, we appreciated it all the more.

Here are a few more images of things we appreciated this year:

Morning Fog - Jim Salge
Morning fog at North Percy Peak in New Hampshire.
Photo Credit : Jim Salge
Alpine Foliage
Alpine-zone fall colors on Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
Photo Credit : Jim Salge
Autumn Roads
Vibrant trees along Mount Clinton Road in Carroll, New Hampshire.
Photo Credit : Jim Salge
Stonehouse Pond
Beautiful reflections on Stonehouse Pond in Barrington, New Hampshire.
Photo Credit : Jim Salge

We thank you for following our weekly reports this season, and we hope you found some of the very best of New England’s autumn show. See you next August!

What did you think of this year’s fall foliage?