September 23 2008 by Matthew Clyde
With all the news of stumbling stock markets and extreme weather warnings, the ticket to finding some solace might be just a short drive away. Turn off the TV, power down the PC and head outdoors for some foliage therapy this fall. Take a hike, ride your bike or drive through back country roads to get the best sightings. This is the perfect time of the year to head out. Aside from the stunning show of color to witness, you will find that with the first frosts the bugs are gone, the trails are less crowded and the sounds of nature will speak to your soul--that is, if you leave the iPod at home.
Head out before the deep cold sets in- late September or early October are usually best. Consult the Foliage Network before going--it offers helpful updates from "spotters" in the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest regions of the U.S. Notice they are missing "spotters" west of the Mississippi. If you live in the Rocky Mountain region or the west coast, you know there are some great foliage sightings that should be reported. Sign up as a spotter. Another great resource is the GORP's Fall Foliage Guide, with a suggested Top 10 of the best foliage drives and regional recommendations across the US and Canada.
Here are a few recommendations:
- The Kancamagus Scenic Byway in New Hampshire
- The Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
- The Laurentian Mountains in Quebec Canada
- Ottawa and Hiawatha National Forests in Upper Michigan
- Mark Twain Trees of Missouri
- Independence Pass and Leadville Colorado
- "Lost Maples" in Texas
If you are new to this sort of activity there are a few guidelines to follow. For example, a general rule is late September through October you can catch the colors in the East areas, but in areas in the West it can last only a few weeks. It is also somewhat difficult to try and catch the exact peak of foliage season, this is Mother Nature after all and she runs on her own schedule. Another little fun fact is in some parts the viewing of fall foliage is also referred to as leaf peeping. This was a new word to me, but apparently the term leaf peeper has been around for a while.
Best of luck this fall to leaf peepers everywhere!
I am sure many more breath-taking trails and drives are out there this time of year. Share your own foliage sightings with other readers here. What autumn displays of color do you recommend?