New England Fall Foliage » Foliage Articles » The state of fall foliage in New England

Thoughts on the New England drought

The front steps of Historic Deerfield house.

The front steps of Historic Deerfield house.

First! Don’t worry be happy! Second, there are always other fall shots to be had.

I’m reading blogs and news reports of the forest services in MA, VT, NH and the general consensus is that depending on where you are this will be a normal fall foliage year or even, above normal year!.

Like this article and this article.

Things to keep in mind!

There are no guarantees when it comes to predictions on what the fall colors will do each year. I know that’s not reassuring because you have laid out big bucks for your fall foliage vacation.

I hear this a lot, “I’m looking for perfect fall colors and if I’m not guaranteed of perfect colors I’m cancelling” (slight paraphrase).My advice for someone like this is simple. STAY HOME! It will never be perfect.

I’ve never seen “perfect” fall color everywhere across an entire region. Have I seen “peak” sure but I’ve seen a lot more days that were filled with wonderful scenes of lakes, streams, and covered bridges ALL with fall colors that don’t come close to the mythical “peak”.

Early fall color being spotted in Maine!

Warning this may alarm some folks!! Angelina Quintanilla sent me these images from Caribou Maine. I’m not worried because this is what I hope to see. If she says the entire town and surround hills are turning  next week… then I will stand up and be a little worried.

My fall foliage threshold

If I find 50% of the trees are at full color, I’m happy, If I find 75% of the trees are at full color, I’m ready to have a heart attack. If I do see an area that does look like “peak”, then I’ve died and gone to heaven…

What to do about my plans?

First, don’t worry about the fall colors as much as planning to explore and find all the wonderful things to do in New England. I will constantly tell you that you should plan to have an enjoyable trip and then when you find really great fall colors, you can consider this a bonus.

So… what might we see this fall?

I’m looking at current temps and the 10 day forecast and I’m seeing temps across northern New England at about 4-5 degrees above the average. So in the areas I’m looking (Stowe VT, Dixville Notch NH, and Rangeley ME). Instead of seeing us at 70 and 43 for high and lows I’m seeing 74 and 56 for highs and lows. By the end of Sept I’m guessing that if this doesn’t change we’ll be at the 65/47 for highs and lows instead of 59/37 where these areas should be.

sunlight on Mount Chocorua

View of Sandwich mountain range from Cleveland road – purchase here

This means to me that unless the temps drop to the lower range it will be delayed by a week or so. There will always be jokers in this process because there are bound to be areas that because of their locations, will drop below the 40s with frost and these areas will jump ahead.

No worries since this seems to happen every year. Certain valleys will see cold drift down from Canada and settle into the low lying areas while the areas around them stay warmer and are slower to progress.

We may get a delay to get started but quick to color up?

I agree with those who say that in drought areas, once they do get going they will quickly reach their full colors and unfortunately they will also drop their leaves quickly. This is the curse of the drought, quick to color up, strong colors because the sugars are concentrated and then quick to drop to create a colorful carpet or red, orange and, yellow.

In areas where the trees are getting more rain, then I think you will see the leaves stay on longer but this will be hit or miss. The further south into Southern VT, NH, ME, you will see more drought and more leave drop, quicker.

Southern CT and RI have had a good bit of rain this summer so they are in pretty good shape. As long as they get the cooler temps.

What about Massachusetts?

Well the good new is that in Massachusetts the trees that were hard hit by gypsy moths are coming back and may even turn color in October. Time will tell how that works out. What I think we will see is either brown going to the ground OR hopefully a quick color up with outstanding colors and then quickly to the ground.

(You have to take what you can get.)

You will need to get in the car and explore and find the great history and scenery that Massachusetts has to offer and hopefully you’ll also get some great color as well. I think there will be color, just not on my street… Lots of brown tinged leaves 🙁

A Facebook post from 2 years ago in August

Early color in August is nothing new!

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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The state of fall foliage in New England — 26 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I am planning to visit NH white mountain area for fall foliage around Sep 30th. How will be the color during this time?

    • Right now the color are turning and most places in the White mountains should be in the process of turning this week but in several areas I’m seeing cloudy forecasts if not a little rain… so bring rain gear and go find some color…

  2. Hi Jeff, coming from abroad on Sep 29th. I will have only a few days in New England. Can you please recommend the places with best chances of peak, or near peak foliage in this area? thanks

    • Well Guy, you will want to be up north in VT, NH or ME and I’m hoping the color will be down into the white mountains by then. I’m forging my trip this week and postponing it till next Friday (the 30th since I think it will be nicer.

  3. came across your interesting blog, planning to have fall foliage adventure on Columbus weekend a friend recommended Kancamangus hwy saw route 302 also scenic witch one ould you recommend. Thanks

  4. Thanks, Jeff! Yeah, it should be Route 302, my bad. lol I heard a lot about the pretty waterfalls off the road. We decide to visit a couple of them. And also, we will do the driving through Route 112, which should be very interesting. Thanks again! 🙂

  5. Hi Jeff, I enjoyed reading through your blog! Thanks! We are planning a road trip going into the White Mountains area along Route 320 from north to south sometime in the first week of October. Do you think the color will be good by the time we arrive?

    • I hope so (Route 302) is a great drive with lots of interesting roads to explore off of it. I’m think the first week of October should be good. Unless Mother Nature makes our lives more difficult between now and then… 🙂

  6. Hi Jeff,
    My wife and I are planning on coming to Vermont @Oct 10-17. We have flexibility in our travel plans. I am wondering how the Vermont colors may look around our tentative dates. Any suggestions would be really helpflul

    • Hi Don, as of this moment the date look fine. You’re going to be looking in the bottom half of Vermont. Talk to the hotel where you are staying or the local library and see what they are seeing.

  7. Jeff,we are coming from upstate NY through vermont via route 4 through Rutland and will be passing over Killington to the nascar race in loudon nh.The race is a week later as it was last year and the color wasn’t that good. Do you think the drought will give us better color than last year the dates are 9/24/16 and 9/25/16.

    • Well your dates are so very early for that zone. In most years I would say you are lucky to see more than a few branches in color. This year the drought which is not as heavy up that way should produce great color but the kick off??? That is the question… How soon will it start? If loudon is at a higher drought than other areas it could start earlier, especially in the swamp maples or any tree that is stressed.

    • I don’t live in NY but from the drought prediction folks at NOAA, they show western NY in a drought zone and it depends on how bad it is there. What I would do is call the park and ask how far short on rain they are. 2-3 inches and you should see really good color. 4 or more inches short then I might look at eastern NY state as they are showing much less drought. Maybe in the Adirondacks?

      I hope this helps

  8. Jeff, I see that hurricane winds are buffeting the northeast. We’re in California and really want to make a fall foliage trip this year. Our dates are flexible, but the airlines make short term planning impossible. I’m thinking either the first or second week in October, flying to Boston or Albany, and then going where the going is best. We’ve done this before, so the ancillary attractions are not the draw – it’s the color and color alone. So, is this a good year, did the wind blow all the leaves off the trees, how do things look to you right now? Really appreciate what you do. Thanx and best regards, Andy

    • Well Andy any leaves coming down now would have been coloring up anyway. The areas you will need to go to are further north and early in October if not late Sept. And no, at this point the winds haven’t pulled down much in the way of leaves in the areas that count.
      I will not recommend going to SE Massachusetts or even central but western mass may be nice. I think the real color this year will be in northern VT/NH and ME.

      That is my guesstimate as of this date… 🙂

  9. Hi Jeff! My fiancee and I are getting married up in East Burke, VT on Columbus Day weekend. We’re crossing our fingers that we’ll be surrounded by some great foliage. Do you have any thoughts? Thanks!

    • Well Maud, the thing about a trip like this is if all you come for is the fall colors then at some point you will be disappointed. Even I don’t get it right all the time. Mystic and Boston have such great history and scenic spots that you may not miss the fall colors. And when I say there won’t be much, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any… I’ll bet you will find some early trees and I just had a report from CT that said the swamp maples are Turning????

  10. Hi Jeff! Loving your blog!
    Going to Mystic and Boston on the first week of October, do you think that the foliage will be colorful or is it too early?

  11. I will definitely stop back in and let you know how our trip was and what worked and what didn’t (if anything!!)

  12. Thanks for the update, Jeff! We are getting very excited for our trip at the end of Sept.! Can’t believe how fast the time is approaching. We know we will have to take what color there is but like you said, there is so much more to see than just the colors! We look forward to exploring New England too! Thanks for your wonderful blog that has helped us immensely!

I'd love to hear what you think!

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