New England's fall foliage typically peaks in late September and early October. But around the country, leaf-peeping season runs longer than you might think.
And while New England is the undisputed queen of classic autumn scenery, other regions brag about foliage too, from Yosemite National Park in California to North Carolina's mountains to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In most regions, color appears first in northerly areas and higher elevations, then gradually spreads to valleys, coastal areas and southerly regions. Here are some details on where and when to see fall foliage in five parts of the country — New England, Michigan, North Carolina and California.
NEW ENGLAND: Foliage in New England usually peaks the last week of September through mid-October, according to Jeff Folger, a photographer and blogger who chases fall color for Yankee magazine and tracks foliage at www.yankeefoliage.com. Folger advises travelers to pick a central location, such as Conway, N.H., Woodstock or Bennington, Vt., the Berkshires in Massachusetts, or Sebago Lake in Maine. Then explore the area rather than trying to cover too much ground in a couple of days. If you can only do one trip, Folger says Oct. 4-10 is often a prime color week, with southern New Hampshire a good place to start. Best trees for color include maples, red oaks and birches.
MICHIGAN: Fall color can be found in many parts of the state, such as the Upper Peninsula's hardwood forests and the northwest region including Petoskey, Charlevoix and Traverse City.
Recommended destinations include Michigan wineries, parks like Pictured Rock National Park in Munising, and scenic roads like M119, nicknamed the "Tunnel of Trees" for a dense leafy canopy. M119 runs north of Petoskey to Cross Village near the Lake Michigan shore. Foliage reports: www.michigan.org.
NORTH CAROLINA: Fall color usually appears in the mountains the second week in October at 3,000-5,000 feet, said Neufeld, the Appalachian State University professor. Good leaf-peeping places include Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome in the Smokies; Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in eastern North America; and the Blue Ridge Parkway, which starts in Virginia but runs through North Carolina and Tennessee, between Asheville and the Smokies, with many scenic overlooks. Leaf reports are posted starting the last week of September on www.visitNC.com.
CALIFORNIA: In Yosemite National Park — www.nps.gov/yose/ — fall colors arrive at different times. In Tuolumne Meadows, at 8,500 feet, October is the best time for foliage. Leaf-peepers also find their way to the Plumas National Forest and other places around Plumas County, in the Sierra Nevada in the eastern part of California. The county seat, Quincy, is about 80 miles from Reno, Nev. Fall color reports will start at www.plumascounty.org on the equinox (Sept. 22).
— Associated Press
Color Is Not Just In New England
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