Question #1 every year: When is the best time for fall foliage in New England? Based on this set of loose parameters, it’s an easy Question… Late September and October, Of Course!
Rarely is anyone happy with that answer though, and they want a more specific date range down to a week or even a particular weekend?
Now they are asking the 24 million dollar question! The autumn colors rarely show up at the same time each year. I usually tell all my readers, this: Visiting on CDW or Columbus Day Weekend is the most heavily traveled weekend for two reasons.
- First, it’s a three day weekend.
- Second, this weekend (or week) is usually the start of when you will find the broadest tract of peaking fall colors across VT, NH and ME (not to mention the Berkshires and north central Masschusetts)
Now if you don’t know what I mean by “broadest tract” Take a look at this map from the Yankee Magazine foliage website. This is a great representation of a very broad tract of peak fall foliage (wouldn’t it be nice if ALL the trees in the red area turn full peak at the same time? But that is in another article)
You will see that bright red corresponds to the Peak colors and it covers a very broad area of Northern New England. Now please keep this in mind this is nothing more than a good guesstimate of what the fall colors will do in any given year.
If you look at the small calendar in the corner it’s centered on 7 Oct. So in theory you should have a really good chance of finding great color during this time period.
That is the “Safe” answer! I will also tell you that I have gotten some of my best shots on or about the 1st of October. For the northern white mountains and up into the great north woods (think Canadian border) you can avoid traffic of CDW but you also have to drive way north where there are actually less maples and more evergreens so you run the chance of spotty color.
What the maps don’t tell you?
What the map (this one or anyone elses) won’t tell you! That this is a generalization and does not take into effect dry/wet spells or maple leaf rot or other environmental effects that happen in random years.
Here is where I jump off the ledge with both feet and make a call based on what I’m seeing here in the New England area. Somebody has to be crazy enough to do it!
But! as tools go this isn’t a bad one and for this year Jeff Foliage says…
[remember this was written in 2013, click this link to go to my forecast listing] I think these are good dates but I might slide the date a few days later. We had a late spring and summer along with a very wet June. I think these factors will lead us to slight delay in the fall colors or a sporadic start to the colors depending on what we get in Sept as far as temps and precipitation.
What we want to see is a warm summer fading by the end of August into a cooler and dry Sept. This way we will get the colors when we want them. A dry Sept will concentrate the sugars in the leaves and give us much brighter colors! So cross your fingers…
So the best time for fall foliage in New England is whenever you get here! The earlier you get here then the further north you will be and if you show up in late October then you want to arrive further to the south… That isn’t too hard, is it?Jeff "Foliage" Folger
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I have several pages that I write blogs for such as: http://www.4cornersnewengland.com/
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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.