We're entering the prime season for seeing russet-and-gold autumnal foliage in North America, when chlorophyll breaks down to reveal brilliant shades in leaves.
Some of the most renowned states for "leaf-peeping" were hard hit by Tropical Storm Irene, especially Vermont, New Hampshire and parts of New York state. But don't let the stories on the news discourage you from going to this part of the US. Locals have been hard at work clearing the roads and brushing up the landscape, and they convincingly claim that the autumn foliage will be as spectacular as ever in their part of the country.
Whether you're thinking of visiting New England or another
part of North America, you need to plan your trip first. An ideal way to plan
is to choose when you're free to travel and then check which destinations will
display the most brilliant hues at that time. Alternately, you can also choose
your preferred territory first -- such the mountains of Vermont, the coastline
of Nova Scotia or the hills of northern Minnesota -- and then research the peak
colour times at that spot.
Either way, there are several websites and apps that can
help you fine-tune your trip. We've vetted the best digital tools
for seeing the autumn splendour.
Foliage Leaf Peepr
This app by Yankee Magazine focuses on New England. It
tracks reader and editorial reports of colour changes and presents these
updates on a colour-coded map, putting peak season information just a finger
swipe away. For instance, if you see areas on a map of northern Vermont coloured
green, that means the forests are still green in that part of the state. (Tip: you'll
find the web version of this information at yankeefoliage.com.) Free;
Android and iPhone/iPad
This app lets you point your iPhone's camera at a leaf and
receive an instant explanation about it, helping autumn-foliage fans identify
the major species of trees they're admiring. You can also browse by shape
of tree or leaf. There is no comparable Android app yet. You can upload
the type of leaves you see, too, providing data that can be used by researchers
at Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian
Institution. The app works best in the United States and Canada. Free; iPhone/iPad
Ultimate field guide to North American trees
This app is similar to the above but it works for Android
users, not just iPhone/iPad. In an easy-to-understand format, the scientific
research in the National Audubon Society’s Field Guides to Trees. Browse by
shape of tree or leaf. Works best in the United States and Canada. Free; Android and iPhone/iPad
This app helps you find the cheapest gas while you're
driving in unfamiliar territory, based on more than a million user-generated
reports. Free Android and iPhone/iPad
As for websites that help you time your trip to see
maximum colour, here is the rundown, broken down geographically:
Typically peaks late October, with yellow and purple from
chestnut, beech, red maple and the state's famous white oaks. See the state's foliage website.
Typically peaks in late September, with orange and amber of
poplar, marsh and sumac. See the state's foliage
Typically peaks mid-October, with red and yellow from beech
and oak. See the state’s foliage online resource.
Typically peaks late September, with orange and gold from
birch and white cedar. Call the state's foliage hotline 800-644-3255, or check
out the online updates for the western part of the state.
Typically, peaks late September, with gold, crimson, purple
from adler and pin cheery. See the state's foliage report.
New York state
Typically peaks in mid-September, with red and yellow from
sumac, oak and poplar. See the state's foliage forecast.
Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island
Typically peaks early October, with amber and crimson from
birch and maple. See the region's foliage forecast for Nova Scotia and Prince Edward
Typically peaks late September, with yellow from white birch
and other trees. See updates from the province's foliage website.
Typically peaks in late September, with red and yellow from
varied deciduous trees. Call the state's foliage hotline 401-222-2601. (No
Typically peaks mid-September, with gold and crimson from
aspen, tamarack and red maple. See the state's fall
foliage report also available by free
Typically peaks late September, with the yellow, red and
purple from adler, pin cheery and the state's signature sugar maple. See the
state's foliage Internet
Typically peaks late October, with the crimson of oak,
sweetgum and red maple. Visit the state's foliage
Typically peaks late September, with scarlet and cinnamon colours from oak,
sumac and aspen, plus the brilliant reds of mountain-ash berries. See the
Typically peaks late September, with yellow and purple from
tamarack and vine maple. Call the state's foliage hotline 800-354-4595.
For other US states
See the US Forest Service's forecast webpage.
Sean O'Neill is
the tech travel columnist for BBC Travel