To experience foliage in its full kaleidoscopic splendor, you need to
know when and where color is reaching its peak. As the brilliance of
fall marches south from northern New England to the shores of the
Mid-Atlantic, keeping tabs on a few key resources can help you go out in
a blaze of leaf-peeping glory.
Get the Big Picture
First, it's worth getting a quick handle on when foliage
typically peaks at locations around the Northeast. As a general rule,
color peaks in far northern New England and New York in late September,
then steadily moves south over the next four weeks. Peak foliage
typically reaches its broadest expanse in early to mid-October, and
lingers through the latter half of October and the first days of
November in low-elevation, near-coastal regions across southern New
England and the Mid-Atlantic.
For a general overview of foliage timing in New England, take a look at this excellent animation from Yankee Foliage (one of the most comprehensive sources for all things New England foliage).
For the popular foliage destinations of New Hampshire and Vermont,
the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development produces a useful interactive map of likely foliage conditions by date, and Foliage Vermont offers this animation of foliage progression.
For the latest conditions across the Northeast, from New Jersey to Maine, The Foliage Network produces foliage updates twice a week for the entire region, including broad overview maps of the current foliage situation.
Watch the Weather
Once you have a handle on likely peak foliage times, next pay close
attention to the weather forecast—fall conditions can have a significant
influence on foliage. For maximum fall colors, the best weather
consists of long stretches of warm, sunny days and cool, but not
freezing, nights. Keep a particular watch for any early frosts, which
halt the development of fall colors in their tracks and can
significantly reduce the brilliance of foliage in affected areas.
Also keep an eye out for the approach of stormy weather, which can
strip leaves en masse and bring an abrupt end to peak foliage season. If
you see inclement weather approaching during the height of color, make
an effort to get out and leaf-peep before it strikes.
Follow the State of the States
State-specific resources, including real-time updates of current foliage
conditions, are available throughout the Northeast. Several states have
adopted the use of Instagram photo streams for the 2014 season, which
can help provide daily insights of real-time conditions. From north to
south, here are some of the best resources to watch.
This column originally appeared in AMC Outdoors. Photo by Jerry and Marcy Monkman
- Maine: Visit Maine's Official Fall Foliage web site, where you can sign up to receive Maine foliage updates by e-mail.
- New Hampshire: Check out the New Hampshire foliage reports for the latest and follow #nhfoliage on Instagram, Twitter, and other social media.
- Vermont: The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing provides regular updates at its Fall Foliage Central and also gives you the option of getting Vermont foliage updates by email.
- Massachusetts: The Massachusetts foliage site
from the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism features
user-posted images from Instagram (#MAinstafoliage), along with other
- Connecticut: The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection posts a useful interactive map of estimated peak foliage, as well as regular and simple fall foliage reports.
- New York: Weekly fall color reports are posted every Wednesday on the state’s I Love NY site.
- New Jersey: Despite its excellent leaf-peeping
opportunities, the Garden State is most lacking for a good go-to source
for foliage updates. NJHiking provides some limited updates.
- Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources posts a detailed weekly update and foliage map.
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.