New England

2018 Foliage Report | Peak Color Reaches Southern New England

Where can you find peak foliage right now? Learn more in our latest New England fall foliage report.

By Jim Salge

Oct 25 2018

Shannock< RI

A Small Waterfall Surrounded By Color This Week In Shannock, RI

Photo Credit : Mark Truman

One of the things we’ve heard the most during this year’s fall foliage season is the idea of “suddenness.” As the wave of peak color moved south across New England over the past few weeks, the overall landscape remained overwhelmingly green … until suddenly it wasn’t.

That wave of color has finally — and again seemingly overnight — reached all the way to the most southern portions of New England, with the foliage display now erupting along Long Island Sound.

As expected, this year’s peak across the region is a bit later than normal, as trees are responding slowly to the prolonged stretch of warm, humid, and cloudy weather. Boston, for example, fell below 40 degrees for the first time just late last week, when the average lows suggest we should be regularly reaching that mark. That night, the first frost hit many of the suburbs, though, and that has finally set the seasonal change in motion in our southernmost zones.

Shannock, RI
A waterfall surrounded by color this week in Shannock, RI.
Photo Credit : Mark Truman

Already now, the maples and birches are turning bright shades of yellow and orange across Rhode Island and central and southern Connecticut, and they should continue to only brighten from here. Unfortunately, though, after such a lengthy period of warm and especially cloudy weather this autumn, red colors do not seem particularly prominent outside of the wetlands in southern New England, though the landscape is nonetheless beautiful.

Cockaponset Sttate Forest in Chester, CT
Great yellows and oranges are nearing peak in the Cockaponset State Forest in Chester, CT.
Photo Credit : Jonathan Steele

While great road trip options exist throughout the region, one of our favorites — and possibly the most surprising — is the Merritt Parkway, across southern Connecticut. Though it represents a bit of a departure from the back roads and small towns that we usually suggest in these reports, this tree-lined highway is not only beautiful for foliage but also features unique bridge architecture. (We also have plenty of suggestions for more typical foliage drives in the region on our site.)


There are a few caveats to the foliage show across this region this weekend. First, the timing of the maples and birches seems very decoupled from that of the oaks across all of New England this year. As I look out the window right now in southern New Hampshire, where most of the early peak colors lay on the ground, I see a lot of green on the hillsides where oaks are still waiting to turn. Therefore, the fall show in Connecticut and Rhode Island will depend on the forest mix: It will be strongest where there are more maples and fewer oaks.

Green Mixed With Colors
Foliage colors at the Perryville Dam in Rehoboth, MA, this past week.
Photo Credit : Bryan Bzdula

Second — and more important — we are expecting a significant coastal storm with wind, rain, and snow across the region this weekend. This certainly will have a negative effect on the foliage display. Not only have the leaves come on strong this year, they seem to be leaving just as fast!

As the first wave of color has finally made it all the way south, we turn to a second wave of colors coming in now farther north. These colors are more subtle and more intimately a part of the landscape, and they emerge across the landscape after the peak. They are the tones of rusts and golds in the late beech trees, the slow-turning oaks, and the surprising larches.

Colors Fading In White Mountains
Though there’s still some late color to be found, peak has passed in much of New England.
Photo Credit : Jim Salge

Pockets of this late color linger around lakes and other warm bodies of water, as well as in warm valleys and coastal regions. Color is holding on around Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, the Connecticut River Valley in western Massachusetts, and the coast of Maine from Camden to Kennebunkport. Pending the track of this weekend’s storm, we would highly recommend a hike of Mount Major, Mount Sugarloaf, or Mount Megunticook, respectively.

Snow Fall on Foliage
Up to 20 inches of snow have fallen in far northern New England this week.
Photo Credit : Jennifer Hannux

Finally, the transition of seasons suddenly became complete in the far northern regions this past week, as up to a foot of snow fell across northern Vermont, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and interior Maine. Leaf peepers, step aside: It’s ski season in these hills.

As always, be sure to visit for our weekly 2018 foliage forecasts and reports, as well as our live peak foliage map and everything else you need to plan your late foliage leaf-peeping trip. And when you do find some color, please share it with us by tagging your Instagram photos with #MyNewEngland for a chance to be featured on our feed.

We’ll see you out there!

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