New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » What dictates peak fall foliage
Peak fall foliage color on the Kancamagus highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Peak fall foliage color on the Kancamagus highway
View this image here

Everybody wants to know “What dictates peak fall foliage”? First the simple answer. The weather and the earths orbit/rotation. (plus a few other factors like moisture, sun, etc.)

I’m not bright enough to speak on why the earth changes on it’s axis.I just have faith that, just as the days are getting longer now, in just 80 days the process will start to reverse itself and fall foliage season will be on it’s way. 🙂 I bet some of you are smiling and the others are having heart attacks, saying, I’ve still got snow on the Ground!

The science (or magic) of fall foliage

This is the part where fools weigh in and I tread lightly. The science is easy, and it’s in books and websites all over the internet. I think others have said it well enough so I can break the remainder into two points of reference.

  • What dictates peak fall foliage (definition)
  • What dictates peak fall foliage (actually occurring)

Definition of Peak fall foliage

First, my definition for Peak fall foliage is all over my site. “As you stand in one spot, all trees that are able to turn color, have turned, or, are in the process of turning”. I refer to this as  “Mythical” Peak fall foliage because the chances of finding this spot with not one tree that jumped early and is bare is astronomically small.

The reality of peak fall foliage

Currier's Flying Service, Inc. This is between Moosehead Lake and MT. Katahdin

Tapestry of color, Image provided by Roger Currier of Currier’s flying service Inc View their site here

The reality of finding peak fall foliage is more like this: As you stand in your spot, all the  trees in view are somewhere in the turning process  Hopefully most are at the 75%+ point in the turning process. You will/should see trees, that are anywhere from 25% turning (which is nice) on up to 100% turning, (Freaking AWESOME!) and the rest are on the way towards past peak and losing their leaves (pleasing).

This results in what I call a Tapestry of colors. Some shades of green mixed with reds, oranges, and golds along with the bare branches all mixing together to form… you guessed it a “Tapestry of Color“.

Peak fall foliage (actually occurring)

Here is where it gets tough. So many things have to happen to get peak fall foliage. In 2012 we had drought or near drought conditions which caused an explosion of color on 1 and 2 October that just blew me away.

Then we got rain, and more rain… This is the last thing we want to see during the autumn season. A day of rain here or there is fine but days leading into weeks of rain is the last thing we want to see and the only thing worse is a Nor-Easter blowing through!

Perfect conditions for Peak fall foliage

A balanced spring and summer with enough rain to keep the trees strong and they don’t shut down early and drop their leaves. As we head into late August I would like to see only a little rain and almost none in September.

As we head into late Sept/Oct, we would see the colors explode as the sugars  get concentrated in the leaves… These are the conditions I would hope for.

I didn’t find peak fall color what can I do?

view of Hazens notch on route 58 looking toward Montgomery Vermont

Early color (not peak) on Hazen’s notch on route 58 in Vermont

My advice under these circumstances is to “make the most of what you did find”! I live here and some years I find color all over the place and some years it’s a chore to turn out just a few good pictures. (2005 and 2011 come to mind)

I have many articles on the subject like this one on Finding peak fall foliage in New England. My most important words of advice is to stay tuned to my site for updates. but mostly plan to have other options. If you get here and have one day of great weather and the rest of the vacation is washed out??? Then either get used to taking your umbrella everywhere or treat this a normal vacation. Don’t worry about the fall foliage so much and instead think about… Oh I don’t know, how about Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth NH or how about the Vermont cheese trail in Vermont?

I can go on but you get the idea…

Life is what happen when we’re busy making other plans!  🙂

Jeff “Foliage” Folger
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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.
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About 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.


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