New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » Northern New England foliage update 15 Sept 2012

I just got back from my first road trip last night, searching for fall foliage in northern New Hampshire and Vermont.

Did I find any fall foliage?

I’ll answer this question in each segment where I talk about a different area of the trip over the past three days.

Our trip north started on Wednesday afternoon and we took route 93 up to Lincoln New Hampshire.  Fall color in the general vicinity of Lincoln is limited to early stressed trees and what I call *pre-turning color, so, not really.

(pre-turning color definition: this is usually dark red leaf color which should turn to a bright red or red orange color over the next few weeks it also applies to the lighter yellowish tinged leaves as they should  start taking on the yellow and orange fall colors soon after this)

signs of early fall foliage color on lost River Road at the beaver pond pullout

early fall foliage color at the beaver pond

Lisa and I jumped on route 112 heading West (yes, there is at least one person who does not automatically take the Kancamagus Highway… Route 112 East). We drove to the Beaver Pond pullout and I took a picture so you can get an idea of what the color looks like in the Western White Mountains.

As you can see there are indicators of the reds and yellows to come but they’re still a week or more away. I don’t really give this a percentage of color turned because to me this is an example of pre-turning color. But you will probably hear this being called 10% color. In my book it’s not turning color until it’s bright and ready to photograph, (to each his own).

September 2012 fall foliage color

One bright example of Sept fall color in Sugar Hill

We stayed at the Sunset Hill House $$$$ in Sugar Hill and just down the road from the Inn, I photographed a single tree with very bright and pleasing color on it. The tree itself is may be 40% in color and by the time you get here this particular tree we’ll either be faded or bare.

The good news is the rest of the trees around it are green so you have a lot to look forward to.

Day two

fall foliage color has yet to come to Dixville notch and the balsams

the Balsams Dixville Notch, low color 1 to 5%

The next morning we headed out to Polly’s pancake parlorwhich as always, has great pancakes and then we drove north to Dixville Notch. As you can see even as far North as the Balsams, the color is still pre-turning but is ready to explode in a tapestry of fall color as soon as we get the frosty nighttime temperatures and bright sunny days.

We headed across to the Northeast kingdom of Vermont just skirting the Canadian border in several places. For the most part we only saw individual trees with any signs of bright color. On one occasion along Route 114 just on the Vermont side I found a stretch of road (maybe 50 yards) where the majority of the trees along the edge of the road were all in bright color and I would say they were at 60% of being at peak.

The good news is this is the only place along the entire trip where I saw a grouping of really good color. The bad news is this 50 yards stretch will be faded or bare when all the rest of the trees in the area catch-up in a week or two.

We arrived at the Jay peak Inn and met for dinner with my guide for the following day, Gustav W Verderber who is a fellow New England photography Guild member.

Day 3

a side view of the fall foliage down the river under the Waterville covered bridge

Vermont’s Waterville covered bridge with hints of fall colors

I got up at 4:30 AM and Lisa got to stay in bed and sleep in. The rest of the morning Gustav and I drove up and down various roads such as route 100 and Hazen’s Notch Road. Primarily we were looking for Moose which we ended up going dry on. Gustav did find many opportunities for me to photograph several scenic locations that I had never seen before.

Gustav will be running a fall foliage tour next autumn and he’s extremely knowledgeable in his area of the Northeast kingdom. Even though the fall colors haven’t really arrived yet (the NEK is primarily green at this time), there are all the same hints of fall color that I saw over at Dixville Notch.

Lisa and I continued our trip in a southerly direction down Route 5 eventually crossing back onto route 93 and when I arrived back at Lincoln and route 112 we got off and proceeded to drive the Kancamagus Highway (yes even I like to drive it once in a while)

Pre-turning color on the Kancamagus

From Lincoln to the highest point on the Kancamagus (the western portion) I saw a lot of pre-turning color on the hillsides that a lot of people were stopping to take pictures of. Mostly this was the wine red color that in the coming week will probably turn a bright red and I’m calling it about 10% to 15% color at this time.

Once we crossed the high point of the Kancamagus and till we got to route 16 at the Eastern and the color was 0 to 1% and mostly green. I would say that if you needed an early color fix the coming weekend (22 – 23 September), you should see some very nice color on the Western half of the Kanc.

At this time, the temperatures in Lincoln, New Hampshire will only dip into the mid-upper 40s which will not bring out the bright colors that we like to see. But the temperatures at the higher elevations should be much cooler by as much as 5° or more degrees, so I think by next Friday or Saturday (third week of September), you will see good to very good color on the Western half of the Kancamagus. (maybe as much as 30 to 40% good color) and by the fourth week of September I think the Western Kanc will be at peak! the eastern portion of the Kanc should follow suit on the first week of October.

The rest of our trip was pretty much green with individual trees showing color but we didn’t see any evidence of what I would call early fall color outside the normal expectations.

If you have questions feel free to drop in on my fall foliage forum where you can ask specific questions about what I saw on this trip, or in the comments section as always.

Jeff “Foliage” Folger
To purchase an image from this article just visit my sites below or contact me.
Visit my Art images on Vistaphotography
Visit my Stock Photography on Photoshelter
Join my New England Fall Foliage page on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
My scenic New England travel Blog, photos, software tips and more

Escape today


share this

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.
share this

Latest posts by Jeff Foliage (see all)


Northern New England foliage update 15 Sept 2012 — 21 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff! We are planning our first ever trip to try and see some fall colors and we can’t wait! We will be in Montreal from 9-30 until 10-3 and then in Northern VT (Smuggler’s Notch resort) from 10-3 until 10-7, then heading back to Montreal for a night so we can fly home. What do you think our odds are of seeing some color? We are from southern CA, so I think our definition of “peak” might be different than yours 🙂

    • Hmmm… Well Heather I believe you will see good color between Montreal and VT (it’s only 1.5 hours from each other). If while at Smuggler’s Notch you find the color is fading you will able to drive south on several roads (and I mean about 30 min) to be in the think of it.
      It’s my impression that your version of “peak” is from seeing the Sierras and the glorious yellows you have there. Well we should put on a different show with lots of reds and oranges mixed with our golds. I think some of our yellows got hurt by the drought (Birch have a shallow root structure so a drought affects them more than deep root trees.

      So you I think you will see good color.

      • I’m even more excited now! I’ve been reading your recommendations regarding other fun things to do in New England besides hunting down foliage. And I must admit, I think I’m just as excited to go to an apple orchard with my 18 month old daughter and visit some Fall/Harvest festivals as well! Thanks so much for all the great info.

  2. Jeff, thanks a lot for this incredibly helpful blog. I will be in Concord NH from Oct 12 thru 15 and was hoping to see some great colors in the White Mountains region. Going by the current trend, do you think White Mountains area will be past-peak on those days? If so, where can we see great colors during those days?

    • Well if we follow rule number 3, which states if we don’t get any strong winds or rains once the color go to peak… There is a chance they will slowly fall from the trees. So if during the week prior to the 12th we get near perfect weather you should see good color in the mountains (mid to lower elevations. If you turn your sights to the lakes region you will also be very happy. and even down into Massachusetts.

  3. Town: start at the Inn at Sugar Hill, head north to ‘bigish town’ Littleton & along the left of Old Franconia Rd you should see the water pipe.
    Gorge: The lat/lon came from my cell camera, maybe not accurate. From Warren, nh take 118 northeast & look on the right for white house & small dirt parking lot. I passed it & had to turn back & it was worth it.

  4. Jeff, I am making a last minute trip for a photo job in Quincy on Friday night the 21st, I have Thursday to do a day trip.I am thinking the Kanc and a little west just like you did. This will be only chance this year!! Most of the small places In Lincoln want a 3 night stay. Any ideas for one night one photog. on a budget. Thanks and i will give updates if i make it to somewhere good.

    • Try these folks.. Hampton Inn Littleton
      580 Meadow Street, Littleton, New Hampshire, 03561, USA 1-603-444-0025

      Their site says $179-219 Or do you need cheaper.. I know stupid question… but they follow me on Twitter so I went there first.

        • Hi Jim, I just found a couple more with vacancies. 60-80 price range just outside Lincoln on Route 3. Franconia Notch Motel

          572 US Route 3 is one… On my most of my webpages you will see a search lodgings box, so you can put a destination in and do a comparison shop… That is where I looked for a cheaper price at and I found a bunch…


  5. Jeff…

    Superb foliage updates — it takes a photographer to provide reliable assessments.

    I’m dragging our little trailer up from Austin in about a week, and Claudie flies up later. We couldn’t plan this run without your insights, so thanks very much. Good job, amigo.


    Chris Butler

  6. Bookmarked! Inn at Sugar Hill & Polly’s were good to us too. At The upstairs store at Polly’s I found my latest favorite seasoning: Maple Pepper w/Habanero by Highland Foods. If you’re back by SHill, take the road to the ‘big’ town to the North & you’ll find a fresh water spring on the left (ask locals). Separitely, I’d recommend a nice gorge off Rte 118 (northeast of Warren, nh) near 44.018889° N 71.695556° W if you’re looking for a Kanc alternative. Access the gorge via a small staircase by the side of 118 by a white house. I saw a moose too.

    • Thanks CS, My wife loved the Maple pepper also… You’ll have to be more descriptive about the “Big town to the north”??? I have no clue as towns keep getting smaller the further you go… 🙂

      The spot you list is on route 3 south of Woodstock NH and the walls of the canyon look like they might be nice on the west side. Can you hike up to Russel Pond a little further down the road? Is the Lat/Long you mention in relation to 118? which is NW of the point you gave us.

      Here is a L/L on 118 44.0018, -71.7474
      Is the gorge you mentioned on this stretch? I know all of it is beautiful but if you can narrow down the staircase location it will make finding it easier… 🙂
      Jeff Foliage

  7. Thanks for the updates Jeff. Our upcoming foliage trip has been a dream for a loooong time. We are due to arrive in North Conway on Oct. 9th after a couple of days in VT, spend a few days in the White Mountains then on to Bar Harbour for 3 days then along the coast southwards, ending in Boston. I really hope we won’t be late for the colour. Really looking forward to seeing New England. Your posts are great!!

    • I think with an itinerary like that, you shouldn’t have any problems having a great time and seeing some very good color.

  8. We live in Virginia (which will be pretty later)and REALLY appreciate
    your updates!!! We look forward to being in Newport, Boston and Bar Harbor
    next month on a cruise to Canada. Next year we plan a road trip to NE so
    we will be keeping up with you next year also. RANDY

    • Thanks Judith, you and about 40 million other folks… And it may be a little early in some areas depending on rain fall and temperatures. I’m seeing some lows in Troy VT at 38 degrees and tonight and tomorrow in Lincoln NH are showing upper 30s so up 2000′ higher in the mountains of the Kancamagus highway it could be colder and if that happens during this next week then we could see a speed up in the process…
      BUT! before you get all giddy there are two days of rain in the middle of the week… So that slows the process down again… So… hmmm… we’ll have to wait until Thursday/Friday to find out where we stand…

%d bloggers like this: