2012 fall foliage forecast for New England

This is my first forecast or WAG (Wild A** Guess)  for 2012, see the updates below.

(This article is filed on the Predictions and Reports page)

[My final prediction for 2012, Now we just have to see what we get!]
[July update can be found here]
[My June 2012 update is here]
[Compare with my May 2012 prediction]

(If you appreciate that I put my neck out with a prediction how about hitting one of the share buttons above and show the love) :-)

[We got 2-3 inches of rain recently which is good but we are still on the dry side over all. But if we get a few inches next week then I’ll be happy(er). Right now the maples are looking good with no fungus like last year. The Anthracnose fungi is not going to show itself unless we get a lot more concentrated rain!

First off, I’m not a meteorologist and I’m just giving my opinion to the published projected data. This is also January and October is a ways off (getting closer). A lot can STILL happen between now and then. Also, what we receive this spring and summer will affect what happens in the way of fall foliage in New England.

I’ve been looking over the NOAA weather forecast pages and both the Yankee magazine “Old Farmer’s Almanac and the Farmer’s Almanac. I wanted to see if there were, at this EARLY date, any major differences in their forecasts.

As of Jan the forecasts are…

All of the three are generally unified in their outlook for Sept-Nov 2012. The NOAA weather charts indicate the following:

The temperatures this 2012 foliage season are expected to be similar to fall 2011 which means, warm far into the fall. I will say that we are having a very dry winter so far in southern New England but it’s still early as the winter goes.

I would say that if we don’t get the snow and rain that is projected for Jan – Mar 2012 then we could be hurting once the spring gets here. We usually have several feet of snow by now and that would be translate into 2-4 inches of rain for the trees. and on a balanced year we would see gentle melting and more snow added to what was accumulated in Nov-Dec.

Have you started making your plans yet?

Old stone wall along scenic byway in Massachusetts with yellow maple tree above it

Late color in November

I think you should look at the rainfall New England gets between now and April and whether it all comes at once or is drawn out over the next four months.

All at once is bad, if the weather is more balanced then the trees will be happy once things warm up and the greening of New England begins.

If you see a very dry winter/spring then I would hold off making plans for as long as you can.

The reason for this is the outlook for summer is cool and above average rain and this can make up for a dry winter (a little).

The perfect weather we want to see…

Balanced is what I think is best! If we get rain balanced with sun then this is a great beginning to the year.  Then as the summer days progress, we need to see a bit of rain mixed in with the warm days. (Yes really!)

Even if the weather leading up to Sept 15th is perfect,…  

If we don’t get the cooling temperatures from Canada and the jet stream then we will have the same difficulty that we had in 2011.

Where should you look for color in 2012?

If the Temps stay above average (like 2011) then you will be wanting to concentrate on Northern Maine (Moosehead lake and points north). Next is New Hampshire from the White mountains north to the border and Vermont from White River Junction up to the border.

So much that has to happen between now and October 1st, so if you are considering a run for the color this fall, then bookmark this site and stop back by often.   (My opinion will probably change as fast as the weather) :-)

More fall foliage tips

  • Don’t discount overcast days for shooting. Cloudy days are great because colors are more saturated.
  • On sunny days, try lying on the ground, looking up through a tree with the sun coming through the leaves, and watch the colors explode as you shoot.
  • Try focusing on a single branch or one glorious leaf instead of trying to get a panoramic view of an entire valley or mountain range.
  • Try using an ordinary pair of polarized sunglasses as a  filter by holding it in front of your camera lens to intensify the colors. Also depends on the type camera you have. works with small pocket cameras.
Jeff “Foliage” Folger
To purchase an image from this article just visit my sites below or contact me.
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Jeff Foliage

My name is Jeff Folger,
but people call me Jeff Foliage.
I have several pages that I write blogs for such as: http://www.4cornersnewengland.com/
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff Foliage.com.
I live in Salem, Massachusetts and work as a blogger and Travel Photographer. I'm also the founder of the New England Photography Guild.
Feel free to visit me on my blogs and see what life in New England is like.

I started with Yankee Magazine as their first blogger on everything fall foliage. Now I blog on my own blog on my favorite subject, telling leaf peepers where the fall foliage is showing up in New England and helping them (to some extent) plan their fall foliage vacations.


2012 fall foliage forecast for New England — 26 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Where is it looking like I may find some good color between October 1 thru 7? Any suggested routes? I am staying in Boston but have the freedom of driving anywhere.


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    • well Mark, I would say you’re going to need to drive up into the northern one third of Vermont or the white mountains of New Hampshire or around Rangeley Lake in Maine.
      There will be color all through these states but the strongest color should be in the above areas mentioned. Do you need to drive all the way up in the white mountains to see color, probably not and you might be able to see very nice color around Lake Winnipesaukee in the lakes region. And you should see color around Woodstock Vermont just off of route four and I89.
      If you decided to go see the Freiburg fair in Maine you would probably see very nice color there and enjoy the fair also. It sounds like you may be traveling alone so it’s really up to you to decide what you would like to do and see. You could take a drive on the Kancamagus and maybe stop at loon Mountain and take a gondola ride to the top to see the color. You can pretty much substitute in any ski area and take their gondola ride to the top of the mountain to see fall colors.
      Most of the routes that I can suggest might take you a couple days to accomplish if you have to stay in Boston so basically you can take route 93 North to the lakes region or the white mountains. You can take 93 to 89 to get into Vermont. And you could take 93 to 95 to get up and do Maine and then travel North by Northwest to get into the Western portion of Maine. If your car has a GPS then you shouldn’t get too lost but you should have some good maps the Gazetteer series of books from DeLorme are what I recommend but you can stop at any gas station and pick up a map of the area and if you get into a town and either check the gas station or the coffee shops for free guides and maps for things to do in the area.
      This is one of those areas that I tell folks to consider what their interests are and decide what they’d like to see based on that. You could also pick up a Yankee magazine and they had an a to Z of fall foliage and you can use that to see if anything sounds of interest. Take their ideas and map it out and create your own personalized itinerary.
      I hope this helps a little bit.

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  2. Hi Jeff!

    We’re making our first visit to Vermont October 4-7 and we’re so excited! We’re planning on starting in Bennington and driving up through the Green Mountain National Forest, then over to Woodstock, up to Stowe, to Cambridge, and finish in Burlington. We have a few things planned (Harvest Weekend at Billings Farm, Pumpkin Chunkin in Cambridge), but we really just want to have the freedom to move at our own pace, do lots of hiking and exploring, and stop when we feel inclined! Do you have any suggestions for good hikes that won’t be as crowded over the holiday weekend, or insider local tips for lesser-known places we should visit?

    This forum is great and I know many outsiders who are incredibly eager for our vacations truly appreciate your insight!


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    • well Kim since your right on route seven I would stay there and I guess it depends if you are flying into Bennington or if you’re arriving there be New York or another route.
      I would head up route seven which as always been an interesting route as it has tall hills on both sides of the road which can make for a very pretty ride North. It’s hard to say whether this area will be at peak during the 427 October time. But it will be very colorful at least (in my opinion) 50 to 70% of peak.
      One place that I like to stay is the Silas Griffith Inn, Danby VT which is only 60 miles north of Bennington on route seven but this would allow you to have a place overnight and you can ask still explore interesting roads up in the green mountains. For instance I never did find out why Tom was mad and had mad Tom’s notch named after him (yes this is an actual road mad Tom’s notch road) also NF10 should be a good road to travel. It’s a dirt road but I found a few streams and one River that are very photogenic with lots of fall color around them and they’re very close to the road or a short hike away from the road.
      I haven’t explored the green mountains nearly enough to recommend everything there is to do up there but you do have a day hike for the Appalachian Trail there which I believe is where I turned around on mad Tom’s notch road. It got a bit rough for my sedan. :-)

      I don’t know what kind of plans you have at this point and what I mentioned above could be out of your way or what you’re thinking at this point. if you’re going from Bennington direct over to Woodstock you’re going to want to have reservations anywhere near Woodstock for the Columbus Day weekend. The same goes for Stowe as it becomes a parking lot at that time. (I stay away from Stowe and smugglers notch on Columbus Day weekend)

      but as I was saying you could come across route 140 from route 7 and pick up route 100 hitting Plymouth Notch and then catch route 100A to route 4 which will take you to Woodstock. You might look up the Billings Farm while you’re in Woodstock. while you’re in the area of Woodstock you can check this website (http://www.walkwoodstock.com/) and see if they have any listed hikes or trails that interest you (also this onehttp://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=HGN095-017)

      you’re not going to want to miss cold hollow cider mill on route 100 just south of Stowe and also smugglers notch which is a heck of a drive at any time.
      I hope you’ll send some pictures of the pumpkin chunkin in Cambridge
      if you haven’t picked all of your lodgings yet you might try the front page of my website. I just put a lodging Finder and I haven’t tried it myself but it seems to have found for friend of mine some very good rates over in Lincoln New Hampshire. So I assume that if you are winging it while out on the road and if you have a Internet connection you may be able to put in a town near you and see what options the lodging Finder finds.
      If it works well for you let me know and if it doesn’t, especially if it doesn’t, let me know (this goes for everyone who reads this and decides to try it) :-)
      you could take a ferry ride out of Burlington and go over to the New York side and there’s lots of rail trails all through Vermont. In fact I just thought about it, I just put a bicycle touring page up on the site which you can find from the menu line above (during ideas) and there was a bike shop in Stowe renting bicycles if that is more to your liking. It would definitely make getting around during your stay in Stowe more pleasant on the Columbus Day weekend.
      I hope this gives you some ideas but as you can guess I’m a bit busy during the fall foliage season. If you have another question I’ll do my best to answer it.
      Jeff foliage

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  3. Hi Jeff

    We are a group of 9 people planning our fall trip during Sept 27-Sept 30. We will be driving from Connecticut to Vermot to Mount Washington.
    We have marked Cog Rail and Arial Tramway to Mount Cannon on our places to visit.
    Can you suggest some interesting things to do and places to visit during our trip especially in vermont as we plan to start early and reach White mountain region only late evening.

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    • Well driving north on Route 100 is very scenic but slow due to the small towns you pass through. Here is one article to read http://www.nephotographyguild.com/2012/06/18/barns-farms-vermont/ and check my other blog for foliage locations. Some of these may give you some ideas on things to do. http://new-england-foliage.com.
      I really don’t know all what you might want to do or focus on so here are some events during that period and links to webpages with covered bridges… Let me know if there is something in particular that you are looking for…

      8/1/12 – 10/30/12 in Arlington
      Chocolate Tasting
      Place:The Chocolatorium
      Price:$5.00 children under 5 are free
      Time:1 pm and 3 pm
      Contact Name:Nick Monte
      Phone:802 375 6037

      Come learn about where chocolate comes from and how it is made through a short movie. Following this taste 7 different chocolates from different countries and with different percentages of cocoa mass. Tastings are held Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

      9/20/12 – 10/31/12 in Burlington
      Queen City Ghostwalk
      Place:Downtown & UVM
      Time:7:00 pm
      Contact Name:Thea Lewis

      Vermont’s Most Popular Haunted Walking Tours! Discover Burlington’s dark secrets and spine-chilling tales of characters from the city’s past. You’ll become spellbound by the haunted tours that are favorites of Vermonters and visitors alike!


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  4. Hello! We’re coming over from the UK on the 29th Sept to the 15th Oct… Doing NYC, Cape Cod, Green Mountains (Staying in Weston), White Mountains (staying in Lincoln), Bar Harbour and Boston… So lots to do and see (so excited!!) hopefully the foliage will be out in force, but also looking forward to just seeing and experiencing what New England has to offer. What would be your top 3 or 5 things to do during our trip?

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    • Hi and welcome to New England… :-)
      Well this sounds like an article title I should write.. The five don’t miss autumn things in New England… I like it.. :-)

      1. Gondola ride to the top of a mountain (you pick the mtn as almost all will have gondola rides.
      2. sipping hot or cold apple cider in the middle of an orchard as you pick your own apples.
      3. finding all the pumpkin people in Jackson NH
      4. Ride the cog rail $$ to the top of Mt. Washington and stand at the highest point in New England. (or drive it in your car! $)
      5. See cranberry bogs being harvested in Carver Massachusetts.
      6. a warm cider donut/s on a cool crisp morning looking off the porch of your B&B.
      7. Visit one of the North East Kingdom town holding their fall foliage festival http://jeff-foliage.com/fall-festivals/nek-fall-festival/ Oct 1 – Oct 6.
      8. A Hot air balloon ride over the fall foliage.. (www.high5ballooning.com, http://www.balloonsovernewengland.com, many others)

      How is that for starters?

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      • Wow, some great ideas and stuff I’ll definitely loo into. I am also banking on the guesthouses providing daily ‘ideas of what is cool to do’… Another quick question actually :) what to wear… How cold will it be?

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        • I would say the New England fall foliage viewing will be highs in the low 70s (but could get into the 60s also) and lows will be in the mid 40s…
          I also depends on the elevations, the higher you go the cooler it will get. I like to have some light weight shirts and some mid-weight fleece pull overs along with a rain coat shell that will block the wind and rain.
          Shorts and long pants and good walking shoes with lug soles and support (for when you actually get out of the car!) :-)

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  5. Four of us (adults)are taking our first Fall Foliage Cruise out of NY on September 29 and returning October 6. Our itinerary takes us to Halifax, Maine, Mass, RI, and back to NY. We are hoping to see lots of fall color splendor that we have heard so much about. It’s our first visit to NY, so we will be spending our first four days exploring NY before the cruise. I’m getting so excited!

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  6. Hi Jeff,
    Just came by your page while browsing for things to do in Vermont… just made a last minute decision to drive up to Vermont this weekend 9/7-9. Wondering if there is any chance we may see at least some yellow leaves?
    Anything else you would recommend us to do around Manchester Center?

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    • Well Tbone, I would say to visit Hildene (Todd Lincolns estate) which has great views is the first thing that comes to mind. Althought Manchester as a college town is a nice visit also. If you’re going to see any color it will be up in the Green Mtns. Take some of the roads NF10 comes to mind and explore up at altitude. If there is going to be any early color it will be up at elevation.

      Other things to do.

      Chocolate Tasting
      Place:The Chocolatorium
      Price:$5.00 children under 5 are free
      Time:1 pm and 3 pm
      Contact Name:Nick Monte
      Phone:802 375 6037

      Come learn about where chocolate comes from and how it is made through a short movie. Following this taste 7 different chocolates from different countries and with different percentages of cocoa mass. Tastings are held Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

      Vermont State Fair

      Place:Vermont State Fairgrounds

      A 167 Year Old Family Tradition!

      9/8/12 – 9/8/12 in Waitsfield
      Vermont Strong: Celebrating Resiliency, Bridge Street Block Party

      Place:Bridge Street
      Time:3pm – 10pm

      Join the Mad River Valley at this rocking fun block party on Bridge Street in Waitsfield. The event will feature local food, local music (five bands in the line up!), recovery info/actions, kids’ activities from 3-6pm, and much more. Attendees will be invited to sign an action pledge for our planet, which will be presented to our Vermont Representatives and Governor.

      That help?

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  7. We are planning to start our track from Mississippi up to New York on 17th of September through end of September. Will we be too early for peak foilage? We have so far to drive, we want to plan as close as possible. We left Oct 6th one year and all leaves had fallen? What do you think: Thank You for any guidance you can provide.

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    • hi Martha, I hope you didn’t get to wet down in Mississippi after Isaac came through, I spent time down in Biloxi so I know the southern portion of Mississippi fairly well.
      in any previous year I would’ve said that you are far too early for any serious color in New York. But this is not just any average year. The viewpoints out on the Internet are pointing toward one to two weeks earlier fall color and in those areas that had less rain, the color seems to be coming even earlier than that.
      I have one report from Albany New York where a friend of mine has a farm and he says several types of trees have been turning yellow already, and a couple of orchards have had no crops due to lack of rain. My suggestion is this.
      Call the hotel or B&B that you plan on staying at (since you didn’t tell me the location or areas you’ll be visiting) and given that you’re planning on a two week period I assume that you’re going to be staying in one or two establishments, which is fine.
      I think if you talk to the owner or employees at these establishments they will be able to tell you what their areas are like based on what they see when they come to work and go home at night.
      These will be some of your best reports as of right now. I’ve found my best reports come from those people who live and work right in that area that I plan on visiting. They also know if there’s some back roads or really scenic places that you can go visit. I think you’ll have a very good visit and I hope to hear from you on how it went afterwards. Please drop a comment and let us know what you saw where you saw it and generally how your vacation went.
      Jeff foliage

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  8. I will be in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine from Septermber 28 thru October 5, 2012, I hope there is good color but I will still enjoy my time there.

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    • well Ian, that’s the best way to tackle a fall foliage vacation. Plan for lots of wonderful things to see and do and if you get great fall foliage at the same time, then you got a bonus.
      When I used to work at Yankee a woman put a post in their foliage forum. She said she’d rented a convertible just for her foliage trip and it rained every day and she was miserable and never wanted to come back.
      I personally would love to rent a convertible (I’d love to have the top down on a jeep) and go foliage peeping that way. But when you’re doing this as a vacation you have to arrive with the mindset that you’re going to find and explore lots of interesting places and do things that you find of interest as part of your vacation.
      Too many folks show up with their only agenda being find peak fall foliage and I can’t help but wonder how enjoyable their vacation is because they ignored so many aspects that New England can offer by sitting in the car all day and just looking out the windows at pretty colors. I know what this is like because I do a lot of it when I’m trying to find where the best color is on a given day. I don’t recommend this to anybody.

      I assume by the dates you’ve chosen that you’re going to be in the northern areas of the states and I don’t see any reason why at this time you won’t have a great foliage vacation.
      Jeff Foliage

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    • Hi Pomo, I wonder if you know my background? :-)
      First, the peak foliage map at Yankee is based on experience and not real numbers (I know because I used to work for them, I was their first fall foliage blogger) :-)
      That said, they have more cumulative experience than I’ll ever have. I both read their site and their magazine in formulating my predictions. Their new foliage blogger Jim Salge has a background in meteorology so I read what he says also. Then there is NOAA and their climatology prediction scientists. And then I read some more and then based on my years in New England as a fall foliage photographer I make my prediction. I won’t know if I right or wrong until Nov 1st so we can all check back and see how I did.

      I can say this. (excerpt from the above article) I stand by this statement…

      The perfect weather we want to see…

      Balanced is what I think is best! If we get rain balanced with sun then this is a great beginning to the year. Then as the summer days progress, we need to see a bit of rain mixed in with the warm days. (Yes really!)

      Even if the weather leading up to Sept 15th is perfect,…

      If we don’t get the cooling temperatures from Canada and the jet stream then we will have the same difficulty that we had in 2011.

      So! while the magazine likes showing their model of what might happen in a given year,

      it’s only a general guideline

      and they will tell you that it’s not something to exclusively base your decisions on. But it does give you an idea of when and where to start. Heck it worked for me!

      Jeff Foliage

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  9. Jeff, the wife and are considering an October trip to NH and VT. We can either arrive on October 5th or the 12th and will be staying a week. Our plans are to fly into Manchester, NH then drive to White Mountain area of NH for few days then move over to VT (Stowe and/or Woodstock). Based on your experience which of the two weeks would you choose?

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    • Well Gary, I would lean towards the 12th and here’s why…
      We are looking pretty good if not great going into our fall foliage season but we are due to see some warm weather early in Sept and into Oct. If we get some cold night time temps we won’t notice it as an issue. But if it slows the color change down at all the second-third week of Oct should be looking real good for the White Mtns and Woodstock VT. Also Worse case I would say you can still head north and better case you can drive down into the lakes region of NH or down Route 100 to Southern VT to find color.

      Also with Columbus Day past you will have much of the roads to yourself since most folks come up for the holiday. I might choose over by Jackson or Conway to stay central and allow yourself the leeway to choose your direction each morning.

      So that’s what I’m thinking…

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      • Jeff, thanks for your quick response. Reguarding staying in either Jackson/North Conway, the wife and I would like something out in the country, any suggestions?

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    • my only recommendations in this area (I’m only stating Conway one time and that was an RV campground) is to look around and see what is outside the two towns and see what the online travel sites say. I found several inns and B&B’s going up the West road which is “West” of Conway (make sense). Such as the
      http://www.willsinn.com/ (looks rustic)
      http://www.coveredbridgehouse.com/ (in Bartlett looks nice)
      http://www.whitemountainhotel.com/ (Google had mixed reviews)
      http://www.darbyfield.com/ (Google had mixed reviews also)

      this was just a quick Google search looking on the map around the two towns and I suggest you hit tripadvisor.com and http://www.frommers.com/ website and http://www.fodors.com/
      this way you can look over some pictures and judge by what you like in rooms and food and amenities. If you have any more questions you know where to find me :-)

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