The Rural Intelligence Leaf-Peeper’s Primer
Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.
That’s quite a hopeful sentiment coming from Albert Camus. For myself, it’s a bittersweet moment when I see my first variegated leaf. It’s always too early — where has the summer gone? — and yet, Camus is right: it’s the signal of the beauty to come. In the interest of helping our readers plan their foliage expeditions, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to consult as the season offers up its gifts. I suggest you bookmark this page so you can come back to it frequently.
If you’re one of those people who likes to know the science and the weather conditions that portend a memorable foliage season, we’ve got the guy for you. Jim Salge is the foliage reporter for New England Foliage, a Yankee Magazine offshoot. Salge is a nature photographer based in Southern New Hampshire and a former meteorologist at the Mount Washington Observatory. He uses his knowledge of weather, geography and climate to pinpoint the best time to visit a location for the best light, atmosphere and, of course, color.
“We are fairly confident that the leaves will be bright, bold and healthy when they begin to change in most areas, and a colorful, vibrant show should be on tap across most of New England this year,” he says. “We also believe that the leaves, especially up north, will turn a bit later than historical averages.”
New England Foliage also has an archive of fall-focused articles, everything we at Rural Intelligence don’t have the staff to compile. It’s got great info: foliage drives, corn mazes, apple orchards, fall foliage train tours. Not necessarily in the RI region, but you can’t beat Yankee Magazine for everything New England you never knew you wanted to know.
At smokymountains.com, the fall foliage prediction map estimates when fall foliage will peak nationwide (the show is expected to peak in the Berkshires beginning October 15). This interactive map of the changing of the leaves is quite mesmerizing, as it colors itself in as the days and months progress. It even drills down all the way to the county level. And for you science types, it also offers some lovely illustrations and explanations: what creates the colors, why leaves fall (to burden me, of course), and what happens to the falling leaves (the ones I don’t have to rake and bag).
Here are some other websites you can check.
The Weather Channel has a fall foliage peak times map.
I Love New York gives weekend reports, along with best foliage spots and a New York leaf identifier.
Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection offers an estimated date of peak foliage, as well as scenic views and fall foliage driving routes (the Traditional New England itinerary is approximately 100 miles, and begins and ends in Torrington).
Massvacation.com allows streaming foliage by region.
EarthCam and the Connecticult Department of Environmental Protection have set up live webcams so you can get a view without leaving your home (or phone). The one in our region is set up at Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall.
Road trippers will appreciate Leaf Peepr,Yankee Magazine’s foliage mobile app. It’s free, but available only for iOS, Android and Firefox OS.
Go forth and peep! And please, let us know if you've found the ultimate color-drenched vista.
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