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Here is this weekend’s Fall foliage Question

Should we try to change our reservations if the fall foliage is early?

I have to thank Mary for asking this since I’m asked this every year. My long-winded answer follows! 🙂

Hi Mary, I’ve been thinking about this very question all week-long. There are many factors to this equation that make it very hard to say, one way or the other.

First, the colors are turning early… Now please take this statement in the context of the over-all picture! This doesn’t mean the region is turning all at once and believe this! It’s NOT time to panic.

When you see reports by me or others about early turning, it doesn’t mean that an entire street of maples is turning and It doesn’t even mean that an entire tree is turning! But! Something is happening…

What does turning color really mean?

I bet you want to know what it does mean? (I wish someone would tell me… :-))

Fall foliage color in Marblehead MA  shows in August

Early fall color for even Marblehead

Well “turning color” generally means that a branch or the crown of a tree has started to turn color.

When I say turning color, I mean the leaves are going from their dark green summer color to either a yellowish shade or maybe an orangey shade.

I ask those who make reports to me to be very specific on how much of a tree is turning and is it by itself or is it among many friends and all the other trees are doing likewise.

Marblehead update

Fall foliage  shows in August in Marblehead MA on the crown of this tree. The tree was pretty much by itself in heading to the foliage party.

The top of the tree is trying to win the foliage race!

On 24 August, I saw two trees in Marblehead that were turning. One tree had one or two branches showing enough orangey color to make me pull over and snap a couple of pictures. The other tree had it’s crown showing yellowish and a fair bit of orange also mixed in. Also those were the only trees that were showing color. That isn’t even 1% of the trees in Marblehead.

 Anyway, what will happen to these trees is anyone’s guess. These are the possible alternatives.

  1.  They will stop where they are until the temperatures drop into the 40s at night and then the rest of the tree will turn. (we hit 59 this week once)
  2. They by themselves will continue to turn until they are bare and the rest of the trees will start to turn in mid-Sept.
  3. (worst case scenario) all the trees will follow suit and all the trees will be bare before mid Sept.

Another prediction or Wild Ass Guess (WAG)

Tree is showing fall colors early in the partial drought

A single leaf on this tree shows fall color to come

I don’t think  number three will happen but either one or two will happen or some combination of the two.  I also think the foliage season will stretch out and slow down but I don’t have any data on that…

Now you can factor those three scenarios into your decision. The chances of all of northern Vermont turning before you get here are so very slim that I just don’t plan to worry about it… If a weather anomaly happened and the temps drop for the next 2-4 weeks into the mid 30s at night and 55-65 during the day with bright sunny days and cool, crisp nights… Well then call me an idiot and then yes fall would be early and all the leave could be gone before you get here. Chances of it happening? Zilch.

I’m not trying to sound facetious but that is what it would take for me to be really worried.

What I do worry about!

  1. If we get a prolonged warm weather spell (days stay in the 80s-90s and cloudy)
  2. worse yet…we get two solid weeks of rainy weather (not that we don’t need some rain but now is not the time!)

We had two +weeks of rain last Sept and into Oct and this slowed the fall foliage progression to a halt. It wasn’t until the Columbus day weekend that we got cold temps and three days of sun. Then on Columbus Day I started getting calls about the glorious color that popped up overnight.

My answer to “Should I change my reservations?”

So this is my long answer as to why NOT to change your plans or reservations. Remember as I’ve told you over and over (along with everyone else) You should come with great plans of all the things you want to do, like covered bridges, scenic overlooks, gondola rides to the tops of mountains and ziplines back down. Or lazy Kayak rides down a river and cider donuts by the bushel full. Just imagine going on a winery tour in Massachusetts AND then! if you get to do it amid a bunch of fall foliage (PERFECT!) and if not…  you still have great memories…

As I always say, if you are staying in the NEK and the color passed your place by a week before, then all you have to do is about drive 30 min to one hour south and you will be in the heart of it. And more likely if the color hasn’t got to your B&B yet, you drive a short distance north and you will again be in the thick of it.

The one thing I don’t want to hear is, “Jeff we drove all day and into the night and we never found peak fall color”. To be very honest I want you, first, to have a great vacation and if you tell me that because you found my advice to be useful, it helped you to find great color while you were having a great time doing such and such…

Then I’ll be a happy camper.  🙂

Jeff Foliage
Fall foliage route website
Fall foliage Art and Stock images
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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:
My most popular blog is for Leaf peepers: Jeff
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.
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Reader foliage question! — 4 Comments

  1. My wife and I are interested in seeing the colors (we have wanted to all our lives) and are flying into Boston from So. Calif. on October 3rd and will rent a car there. I realize that you can’t predict exactly which locations will be in peak color that week, but could you make some suggestions as to which areas are likely to be candidates? We would love to take some tram rides to higher elevations and zip-line back down. Is that available in VT or NH? Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thank you, James Farrell from Burbank, CA

    • Well it’s a good date to get here and I think for trams and ziplining you can try Wildcat, Loon, Cannon mountains in NH. In Vermont you have Smugglers Notch (here is a link and this is a link to other ziplines in Vermont
      If you try Sugar Hill NH pr the North East Kingdom (North east corner of VT) You should find good color. If you do some reading you will see that we may be a week or so early on the color and if our weather cooperates and dips into the 60s and 30s with a little frost and bright sun, this could become a reality.
      What you will want to do in this case is be prepared to drive south a little. I don’t think you’ll have to go too far but but looking at the areas I mentioned it should put you in the heart of it or very near it.

  2. Jeff,

    I am from Alaska and have always wanted to come to NE in the fall. This year my dream is coming true. Following your website has been making me more excited than ever. I love what you said about having a great vacation no matter what.

    My husband and I will be celebrating our 33 wedding anniversary in Sept., and this will be our first empty nest vacation. I won 50,000 airline miles in a radio contest and it is making my dream a reality.

    Thank you so much for your foliage report. I love reading it! I will be sure to let you know how things went. 🙂

    Leigh Bramante

    • well Leigh, I can’t wait to hear what your plans are, where you’re heading, and what you plan to see. I’m hoping it will be an arrival later in September as the color during the month of September will just be developing in the upper New England areas. Although I’m sure at higher elevations and down in the swamps were going to be seeing some developing color over the next few weeks.
      Congratulations on your 33rd wedding anniversary
      Jeff foliage

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