For those wondering, Peak Foliage is happening right now in the Northeast Kingdom and other rural parts of Vermont! Within the next few weeks, the rest of the state will join in on the beautiful fall colors! But the questions is, what does 'Peak Foliage' mean to you?
As Autumn creeps in through Vermont’s Northern border, colder weather begins to set in, and the state becomes coated in vibrant shades of reds, oranges, and yellows. This colorful transformation is especially spectacular in Vermont, home to the highest concentration of maple trees and where 3/4th of the state is enveloped in forests. The fall colors can be witnessed throughout the entire state, beginning as early as mid-September. The pursuit of the elusive peak fall foliage season, when the colors reach their most vibrant, is an annual ritual for those who have done it before.
Peak fall foliage refers to the period during the autumn season when the leaves on deciduous trees such as Maples, Birches, and Oaks reach their most vibrant and visually appealing state. This phenomenon, also known as "fall colors" or "fall foliage," is particularly celebrated in Vermont, where Maple Trees make up roughly 20% of our lush mountains and hillsides.
The timing of peak fall foliage can vary, depending on both the region and the specific type of tree. In Vermont, the first region to witness this natural spectacle is usually the Northeast Kingdom, typically reaching its peak two to three weeks before the rest of the state. (Late September in most years) Higher elevation towns and regions follow, influenced by the decrease in daylight hours and cooler temperatures of fall. These climatic conditions slow down chlorophyll production in the leaves, revealing the vibrant pigments responsible for the breathtaking autumn colors. Lastly, lower elevations such as Burlington, the Lake Champlain Islands, and other regions along the lake reach their peak. Among these, the Champlain Islands boast some of the most vibrant leaves in the region. If you are looking for the most accurate foliage forecaster, check out this one! Courtesy of vermontvacation.com
Defining 'Peak Foliage' can be subjective, varying from person to person. For some, peak means the beginning of the color change, showcasing a mix of greens, yellows, and bright reds. Others might interpret peak as the point when trees are completely intoxicated by color, with leaves beginning to fall. Old-timers in Vermont might refer to peak as the time in late October when the trees are barely holding onto their leaves, showcasing dark reds, vibrant yellows, and hues of brown, with most of the green long gone.
Whether exploring Vermont through scenic byways, hiking picturesque trails, or participating in autumn festivals, the state is alive and erupting in color. The Northeast Kingdom offers a serene experience of fall leaves, often without crowds, and is considered one of the most scenic areas in North America. The collage of colors in the Green Mountains and Northern Vermont is best witnessed from late September to mid-October, with gondola rides at Jay Peak and Stowe ski resorts offering sprawling views from above.
As Vermont unanimously celebrates the changing season, the state offers something for everyone to explore and discover. Cold snaps at night and recent rains have only amplified the beauty of this season, and the progression of peak seasons from North to South and from higher to lower elevations adds a dynamic element to the experience. So, come and join us this Autumn in Vermont, determine what your peak foliage looks like, and indulge in the breathtaking landscapes that this vibrant season has to offer.