New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » In mid-September, how far north are the fall colors?

How far north do you have to go to find September fall colors?

In past years, I’ve gone all the way north to the Canadian border during the last 2 weeks of Sept (22/30) and found nice or really good fall colors.(depending on the year) But do you have to???

Today we will look at:

  • Current weather concerns
  • New England fall foliage in Stark New Hampshire
  • A northern scenic route for September


Have you started making your plans yet?

I think you should look at the rainfall New England gets between now and mid Sept and whether it all comes at once or is drawn out over the next month.

All at once is bad, Think Hurricane and Nor’easter wrapped into one (2012 and Sandy or snow on Halloween, 2013). The Best is, if the weather is balanced then the trees should be happy. (2013) The leaves will have a stronger bond to the branches and they won’t come off as easily with just a light breeze and a little rain. The longer they stay on the trees means the early trees will hold the leaves long enough for the other, later developing trees to catch up (PERFECT!) BUT!…

Depending on where you look you get the sad face on drought in the region. The July report for the Northeast shows we caught up on some of our rainfall but only in certain areas. For the most part the rivers are at near normal levels in all six New England states. (according to USGS charts for July 2015).

My end analysis is that we’re going to get what Mother Nature provides for us this fall… 🙂 I know, pretty informational, right?

Heading to Northern New Hampshire for the fall colors

Rule number one is to pick up a Gazetteer and the second rule is that the earlier you arrive, the further north you have to travel to find good fall colors. Seldom is this wrong but you may be driving up I-93 to get north (way north) and see a tree on the side of the road, all ablaze in red and orange and go, “What the hell does Jeff know?”. Yes, you will most likely see one or even three trees in full color but when I say good fall color, I mean better than 40% turned on their way to peak fall colors. This is big game we’re going after (cameras only please, no shooting holes in the leaves) We want to see an expanse of fall colors not 1 or 2 trees…


Today we’re heading to Stark NH

The town of Stark NH lies along the Ammonoosuc River and Route 110.  As you can see from this topo map much of the surrounding landscape is hilly if not mountainous.

Route 110 in New Hampshire for fall colors

Route 110 in New Hampshire

Mountainous means 2,000 to 3,000 foot peaks, yes I’m a flatlander too…

Stark NH Covered bridge

Stark NH Covered bridge

As you pick up Route 110 in Groveton (don’t miss the Groveton covered bridge) you will quickly note that the valley you are traveling through has very high sides and you will get views of fall colors covering the sides of the hills. You will find parking very conveniently next to the post office which is next to the covered bridge.. BUT! this also means that your car may also be in the shot. I usually use Photoshop to take the cars out. If you aren’t a Photoshop wiz then you might park further away and walk back.

Many shots I see are from the cemetery across the road on the hill. Please be respectful, If you shoot from this spot. I’ve seen at least one marker laying down and my worry is that someone stood on it to get “THAT” shot. If I catch anyone doing that… Well lets just say I won’t be pleasant about it…

Other shots involve walking down the road and down the bank to get side views but I’ve never seen a good one. I also like going through to the other side and photographing the bridge and the church from the other side.

Now! about the Timing

Stark covered bridge NH

Stark covered bridge NH

I’ve photographed it as early as 27 Sept and as late as 1 Oct and I’ve been happy with both dates but the better color was on the 27th. I don’t know if much before the 27th, if the colors will be as nice so this means if you are arriving mid September then you will still be getting pre-color. 10-35% of its way towards peak. This is nice but spotty. So arrive between 25 Sept to 5 October.

So my recommendation is for 15-25 September you will still need to be further north for the fall colors and I think it will still be hit or miss depending on the road you travel. And how lucky you are!

A scenic fall color route for September

Errol NH on 28 September for early fall color

Errol NH on 28 September 2014

I usually don’t go to far north in September so this is a bucket list drive for me. Maybe we’ll see each other on it next month? Back at Groveton you would get on Route 3 and head further north. and you have a choice, at Route 26 you can take that east to Dixville Notch which is home the Balsam’s hotel (now fancy timeshares, I hear) and follow that south and east into Errol (seen at left) and then into Maine.

If this isn’t presenting you with any fall colors then jump on 145 north to Pittsburg NH. Now we’re talking the Great north woods and to be honest I’ve never needed to go that far north to find beautiful fall colors. Route 26 has always been far enough. 🙂

Now if you still aren’t finding good fall color, make sure your passport is up to date because if you keep following Route 3 north, then you will hit the border patrol for crossing into Canada. It’s up to you if you go any further…

You see, I have mentioned this once or twice. If you, for whatever reason are not finding the fall colors, then have a backup plan and look for events that are going on that will interest you. Leave the long miles to me and I will hopefully have good luck and post on my Twitter/Facebook page where I’m finding good color. (Or maybe some of the fans on those site will also post.)

You want a really nice scenic drive to 1-2 October? try this scenic New Hampshire drive!

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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In mid-September, how far north are the fall colors? — 4 Comments

  1. Jeff, your guidance is needed please. My husband and I will be coming up from Florida the first week of October in hopes of seeing the beautiful colors. Could you give us some of the best routes to take and towns or cities for lodging. Thanks

  2. We will be out East the first week of Oct. where will we find the best colors?

    • In New England… 🙂
      You will be in the White Mountains, the North East Kingdom of Vermont and Northern Maine between Rangeley lake and Moosehead lake…

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