There reaches a point every year when we can stop worrying about predicting and planning for fall’s arrival, and state that the big show has arrived. This coming week, in parts of northern New England, autumn’s full splendor awaits.The show began a bit slower than expected in the north this year, and well ahead of schedule in the south. Cool, clear nights and warm, sunny days will be the recipe for great color going forward now, but the roller-coaster of weather we’ve had these past few weeks has has led to a couple of false starts and time-outs in the northern zones. Fortunately, the forecast now looks more consistently seasonable, and this should rocket us towards peak in the areas that traditionally turn first. Those earliest places typically take some effort to get to, either in miles driven from the region’s population centers, or in elevation gained on foot. Far northern New England, places like the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Coos County in New Hampshire, and the mountains of western Maine are typically quiet, lightly developed, traditionally beautiful and definitely beginning to turn now. These areas have seen the coldest temperatures over the past weeks, and even saw a frost last Saturday morning. More could be on the horizon this weekend and early next week, and the early colors we are already seeing should quickly race towards peak. The best drives to see this early color include Route 5 in Vermont, between Lyndon and Newport, Route 3 in New Hampshire through Pittsburg and the Connecticut Lakes Region, and Route 16 from Berlin, New Hampshire into Maine past Rangeley and up to Flagstaff Lake. These routes all pass by plenty of viewpoints both at elevation and over large expanses of water, which should make them especially beautiful on cool, misty mornings. For those not looking to put so many miles behind them this weekend, a hike in the mountains will bring you up into cooler climates and turning foliage. The high, cooler valleys above 2,500 feet in the western White Mountains are always among the first areas to turn, and the Zealand Valley should be peaking for a surprisingly mild hike of a few miles in. A more strenuous foliage hike this weekend would take you to any of the subalpine slopes on the Presidential Range, like in Tuckerman Ravine, where bright yellows from birches will dominate. Another early foliage hiking option might be in Maine, where the Bigelow Range north of Sugarloaf Ski Resort should have some nice color coming in this week. Most of the other mountainous areas in the Greens and Whites, and over to Baxter State Park will need at least another week before they peak, though early spots of color will begin to fill for nice early scenes. This would include areas like Groton State Forest in Vermont, and the hills above Warren in western NH. Elsewhere in New England, splashes of color are particularly early and abundant this year, though the majority of the canopy remains green. This is largely due to the drought, and the most stressed trees are standing out strongly right now, particularly along forest edges and in areas of thin soil and ledges. There is also some noticeable browning of the most stressed trees in these areas, but as long as the cool weather trend continues, the overwhelmingly green canopy should be fine moving forward. Lastly, we are typically seeing considerable early color in wetlands all across New England at this point of the season, but this year there is little water in the swamps where the swamp maples typically turn. If you find some wetlands that are actually wet, you might be treated to a dazzling local display right now. A true treasure hunt this year.Here at NewEnglandFoliage.com, we have plenty of tools to help you plan your upcoming leaf peeping weekends, and all the accompanying autumn activities. Best sure to check out our interactive foliage map and smartphone app for real time updates across the region, and to share your pictures and reports. We’ve also up out a comprehensive foliage forecast, and weekend by weekend peak planner to help zone in on where we think the leaves will be best moving forward. And when you are on the road this weekend, be sure to tag your social media posts with #MyNewEngland and #NEFoliage. We’ll see you out there!