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Finding Fall Foliage: Common Questions Answered

Finding Fall Foliage: Common Questions Answered

It’s nearly that time of year again. Overnight temperatures are dropping into the 40s, the sun is setting earlier and earlier, and red maples—the earliest foliage changers—are just beginning to turn. Fall is coming back to the Adirondacks, and that means it’s time to talk foliage. Upstate New York is famous for its fall colors. Ranging from incandescent yellow to russet red, there are few places elsewhere in the world that show colors as intense. As such, we hear many questions about fall foliage and the best times to see it. Here are some answers to help you get the most out of this year’s fall season:

When is peak foliage? 

The time frame for peak foliage shifts every year. Usually, it occurs between the last week of September and the first week of October.

How can I tell if it’s going to be a “good” year?

In truth, there is no way to know until it happens. Projections could call for a bland fall, but a sudden turn in weather could change things dramatically. The opposite can also occur. That being said, here are some things to watch out for:

  • Warm, sunny days and cool, frost-free nights—the perfect combination for fall foliage to develop
  • A wet summer—this makes for healthy trees, which hold their leaves better. We have been experiencing this in the High Peaks region
  • Wind storms—this will cause leaves to drop before they change
  • Frost—this will also cause leaves to drop prematurely
Children on summit, fall

To keep you informed, we will be posting weekly fall foliage updates from the Adirondak Loj and Heart Lake Program Center on our Instagram and Facebook pages. For a bigger picture look, ILoveNY produces fall foliage reports that give a good idea of where the best fall foliage is currently statewide.

Where are the best places to see fall foliage?

Anywhere in the Adirondack Park that has dense patches of deciduous forest is going to have a good showing of fall colors. The Catskills and Finger Lakes regions are also well-known for their fall foliage. The best determining factor for where you should go view fall foliage is timing. The High Peaks region of the Adirondacks is always the first to peak. The Catskills usually follow next, then the rest of the state goes, ending with the New York City area.

Another factor to consider is crowding. If you prefer a quieter experience, then we would recommend avoiding the High Peaks region on weekends. Parking is at a premium and a high number of visitors can make for a less-than-wilderness experience, if that is what you are looking for. Other parts of the Adirondack Park see fewer visitors, and weekdays are almost always quieter.

What are your favorite hikes for foliage?

There are a lot of great trails to view foliage from in the Adirondacks. Our personal favorites can be found in our Fire Tower Challenge list. These hikes range from family-friendly to strenuous, and offer great views. If you would prefer something with less elevation, Dig The Falls has a great list of Adirondack waterfalls that offer a wonderful, up-close experience during peak foliage. If you would like more information about these hikes, you can contact our High Peaks Information Center staff at 518-523-3441 ext 121.

Photo Credit: Seth Jones


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