New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » Questions about finding fall colors but was afraid to ask!

Question to Jeff, “How do you go about finding fall colors?”

This could also be titled: What I wish I knew about finding fall colors and was afraid to ask!

“Nobody begins knowing everything, they start from ignorance and build from that” JF

Even before I retired from the Air Force I developed a curiosity about the mystical fall colors in New England. My family was spread out through Massachusetts and New Hampshire and I would hear from time to time about how the colors were in a particular year and if I was lucky, I’d receive a snapshot from their 1-2 megapixel digital cameras. (well, it was a while ago) 🙂

During my first year in Salem, August arrived and I started to see the first sumac leaves turn red (*note I found out this happens every year in August). I started to get antsy to get on the road. I assumed if the colors were just beginning here, shouldn’t they be peak up north?

(Remember this is August and I’m really NEW at this.)

This was the first of many misconceptions on my part, so it was my first error in looking for fall colors… When to “really” look or timing is everything!

In mid-August I’m confused, I’m seeing some fall colors here in Salem, and doesn’t that mean there should be color everywhere? (The correct answer is no, the colors appear in their own time, on their own schedule) (*The truth according to Jeff)

I recently looked in my 2003 Journal and I had written this down on 3 September: “I went on my walk today in Salem and I found two trees turning yellow. I may have to send a report to Yankee. I did find one striped Maple leaf on the ground that was bright red but given that it was all by itself I think it was too early to say the Maples are turning“. (Boy, I had somethings to learn)

Geese swimming under the early fall colors

Geese swimming under the early fall colors

So the heat of August passed and the September daytime temps begin to dip through the 70s into the 60s and the mornings bring a light frost to the plants in the yard and I start to get worried that I’m missing all the colors. It’s only the “15th of Sept” but I grab my camera and jump into my truck and drive towards New Hampshire to see what I can see.

I arrive in Kingston NH, and there is a tree or two that are tinged in orange and another about halfway there in gold but most are still green? Here is what’s going through my head

  • Why so little color?
  • When are the leaves going to change?
  • What if I miss it?

I didn’t know my way around much beyond my sister’s town of Atkinson NH but she and her husband had taken me up to Conway NH which seemed like a good place to start but I didn’t know how to get there.  I stopped at a gas station and got a NH map and plotted a route to north Conway NH. Along the way I would find tinges of red and orange on a pond or along the road but nothing like I remember from earlier years…

Is it going to be a lousy year for fall colors? Yes I was wondering this. 🙂

Fall colors begin to arrive on Lake Chocorua

Fall colors begin to arrive on Lake Chocorua

I won’t say panic was setting in, but maybe a little…

I got as far as Tamworth before the light started to fade and I found Lake Chocorua and snapped a shot there. At this point I was thinking that if I AM early then this will be a great place to visit with reflections. I headed home.

Another journal entry on 28 September: “The leaves are starting to turn and I still haven’t been up to Vermont or Maine there are so many miles to cover and getting there is half the battle. I don’t know where all the really good photo scenic locations are. The little country lanes with tree branches creating a tunnel over the road. The Scarlet, orange, and golden leaves falling in piles along the side of the road. The white steeple churches and so forth???“.

A final journal entry on 16 October: “Well, [I’ve] been up to Vermont and Maine but they’re far enough away to make the trips not very thorough. Woodstock Vermont was okay but too short to really enjoy it. I find some of my best pictures come from wandering the back roads around New England“.

Does this sound like anyone you know?

I’ve learned so much since 12 years ago and today when I read posts or comments mentioning “early fall colors on the sumac’s in August, I smile to myself remembering it wasn’t that long ago for me.

I arrived back at Lake Chocorua on 9 October and I photographed the pond with my Canon digital camera and my Canon film camera. These are the results. I only shot film once in a great while now because I like the results better. (Here is an article on dates to be at Lake Chocorua)

Perseverance is the name of the game, or if you are filling out a one-time bucket list visit to see the fall colors, then research is the name of the game. Go to my archives page and read the articles on planning. Then look at the articles for scenic drives by state. It’s not an extensive list but it will give you a head start. Then you can ask questions in the comments of my articles and I will do my best to answer them.

Jeff "Foliage" Folger  You can purchase images by visiting my Fine Art Gallery websites
Subscribe to my Newsletter - If you would like to sign up for my Fine Art America Newsletter (click this link and a window will open allowing you to sign up). Why sign up for the newsletter? Contests, discount codes on my artwork, maybe an excerpt from my book "Exploring the back roads of New England with Jeff Foliage"... Yes you heard me right... (Damn now I have to start writing it!)





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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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