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Fall foliage search begins in New England: Where to go this weekend

Fall foliage search begins in New England: Where to go this weekend
Fall foliage search begins in New England: Where to go this weekend 02:02

By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer

BOSTON -- Is there any season better than fall in New England?  For my money, there is no place in the country I would rather be in September and October than right here. The apples, the pumpkins, the crisp air, and deep blue skies...I could go on and on!

Perhaps what we are best known for though is our changing foliage. The yearly parade of color that rolls south out of the Whites and Greens and eventually down through the Cape is truly a sight to behold and really never gets old. I love how you can literally watch the seasons change before your very eyes.

Timing that change isn't always easy. The color show can vary widely from place to place. While some areas have a vibrant season full of reds and yellows, other areas can go almost directly from green to brown. There are numerous factors involved and almost all of them have one thing in common...the weather.

The most important factor in getting a good foliage season is the weather conditions in the weeks leading up to and during the changeover. It is critical that you get lots of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights. That is essentially what sparks the whole process. As the days start getting shorter and the temperatures get colder, the chlorophyll in the leaves begins to break down. If this process is gradual and undisturbed by things like unseasonably warm or cold weather or say a hurricane, then, in most cases, you get a pretty nice foliage season.

As you know, when it comes to weather in New England, things rarely go as planned. In recent years, our falls have been getting warmer and warmer. This has led to the foliage season starting (and ending) a week or two later than in the past. Another big factor: drought. When you have drought leading up to or during the fall season, the trees become stressed and many times this can lead to a very unpredictable and variable season. This is our biggest "concern" this fall. Much of southern New England has been in some level of drought for the past five months. Thankfully, this is not the case in most of central and northern New England. The drought has not been nearly as severe up that way, so in turn, we should see a better and more typical foliage season.

CBS Boston Graphic

Looking at the current foliage status, we see pretty much what we would expect for late September. Color is starting to come on in parts of Western MA, Vermont, and northern New Hampshire and Maine. The only areas of moderate to high color are in the higher elevations of the Green and White Mountains.  

CBS Boston Graphic

If you are thinking of taking a ride this weekend, we have a few suggestions for where you should see the best color.  According to Yankee Magazine foliage expert Jim Salge, there are bright reds popping throughout Franconia Notch right now and lots of yellows in Grafton notch (in Maine).

3 picks for this weekend:

  • The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont
  • Pittsburg New Hampshire
  • The Bigelow Range, Eustis and Moosehead lake in Maine

One thing to note if you are heading north into New Hampshire...there has been some tree damage in North Conway and along the Kancamagus Highway due to an outbreak of the Spongy Moth. So, the foliage will likely be spottier in that region.

If you don't want to make the trip that far north, you may find some early color around here from the swamp maples in local wetlands.  Grab a canoe or kayak and take a leisurely paddle down the Nashua river or one of the rivers well to the north and west of Boston.

Last but certainly not least, we need YOUR help this fall tracking the foliage! We are looking for pictures and videos of the foliage in your backyard and on your road trips!  Please send to

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