Bright Fall Foliage Emerging In Far Northern New England
The autumn season has officially arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, and fall festivities are on in full force across New England. The Common Ground Fair in Maine was last week, the Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire runs this weekend, and the Big E ends this weekend. Apple picking is reaching its peak, and orchards are […]
Most of New England remains largely green, only punctuated with patches of color.
Photo Credit : Tim Seaver
The autumn season has officially arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, and fall festivities are on in full force across New England. The Common Ground Fair in Maine was last week, the Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire runs this weekend, and the Big E ends this weekend. Apple picking is reaching its peak, and orchards are largely reporting a good crop this year. Hawk watchers had a record weekend watching migrating broad-wings from ridges across the region. And bright fall foliage is already emerging in far Northern New England.
The canopy of color is responding to two main factors, the light and the weather. The light follows a predictable pattern every year, with night now outlasting days and gaining several minutes on every nocturnal period. The weather, by contrast, is much more variable, and can lead to years that trend early to late, muted to bright, and predominantly orange to overwhelmingly red.
We know that the best weather to bring out the fall foliage is cool, clear nights and warm sunny days with only occasional rain, and by and large, this has described the weather thus far this September. In Northern New England, a heavy frost this past week really kick-started the colors, which seemingly appeared overnight. The best news is that the early color has been strong, full and vibrant…hopefully a precursor to the season ahead.
As a most dramatic illustration of this, Michelle Mart Hawes and John Bialek from the ‘My Pittsburg Paradise 365‘ Facebook Page took images on two consecutive days, within thirty-six hours of each other, from the same spot in far Northern NH. A true overnight explosion of bright color, with plenty more green to go!
It is important to note that the impressive scenes of moderate color are resigned to a only a very small portion of New England right now, and the color will take time to spread southward, downslope and towards the coast. The best bets for color this weekend will be the northern portions of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
In Vermont, the Northeast Kingdom is the best bet, with areas peak color likely in the higher terrain there. A great drive is Route 5 from Lyndonville, past the Willoughby Gap, up to Newport. Looping from there over to Jay Peak, down to Stowe will also show strong color, with bright foliage mixing in the some greens still in the northern mountains. We’ve also heard reports of moderate color around the higher hills in the beautiful Groton State Forest. Much of the rest of Vermont is largely features fading green with patches of color punctuating the landscape, especially down the spine of the Green Mountains.
New Hampshire’s best color has been resigned to areas north and west of the White Mountains. Late last week, photographer Robert Kozlow took an aerial survey of the Great North Woods from Pittsburg to Errol, and found that color ranged considerably based on elevation, slope and face in rolling hills. This photo was taken before the color explosion over the weekend, but the emergence remains patchy, with many areas only beginning to turn while others will be at or near peak this weekend. Route 3 from the Lincoln/Woodstock area up to Colebrook is a beautiful drive that will show this variation well, and from there, driving either to Pittsburg or Errol will yield more consistent color.
The remainder of New Hampshire, from the Southern Whites to the Lakes Region and over to Mount Monadnock shows the same general fading green conditions with intermittent punches of color. The swamp maples in these regions still hold the best color, and they are having a spectacular year. Hopefully the rest of the landscape brightens to match them over the next two weeks.
The best areas for foliage in Maine right now lie north and west or Route 2, with the brightest color found in the highest elevations and the Crown of Maine. Moderate color should be found this weekend in the hills around many of the northern lakes, with peak likely coming in the week following. The Rangeley Lakes, Flagstaff Lake, and Moosehead Lake should be worth the drive though, as should Millinocket and Baxter.
Looking into Southern New England, early color is also emerging in the Berkshires in Massachusetts and hills of Connecticut, but we’re still a couple weeks away from peak anywhere else in these states, and eastern and coastal areas could be closer to a month away. Wetland swamp maples remain a good bet there in the interim though!
With so many photographs of autumn flooding the internet this week, it’s easy to develop anxiety about missing part of the big show. I know I’m anxious for my first leaf peeping tour this weekend, but I know that I’ll only see early color on the majority of the journey, as most of New England still looks like the image below, taken in Vermont on the first day of autumn.
Peak is a continuum. Color will take time to develop and it will slowly fade.
Color will be here…waiting for you!
We’ll see you soon!