Page 1 of 2

Peak reports

Posted: Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:02 pm
by viajero465
Where do you turn for peak status reports for specific locations?

I don't mean predictions (I know every year is different), and I don't mean general area reports like "It's peak time now in Northeast Vermont".

What I would like to know is where to turn for location reports for single locations, like Hazens Notch, Smugglers Notch, Island Pond, etc.

All the web color maps I have seen are useful but only to a point. Take Groton State Forest, for example, a place I know well. From experience color maps never show the true fall color status of the forest, because it peaks much earlier than the surrounding area. So if you follow a color map and wait until the area shows "peak", you will be very disappointed because by then the real color is way past peak.

I travel long distances every day to get to the great places so before I decide to go I need to check a day or two before what the status is at that time.

Books, hotlines, general area websites, they are all good but I need something more "real time", at least for the "major" locations. Any suggestions?

Thank you.

Re: Peak reports

Posted: Sat Jul 27, 2019 1:11 pm
by ctyanky
Here is my advice, two fold. This forum has "real time reports" from locals and die hard foliage folks on the road. Since you are not going until 2020 why not see how the reports come in this year, see how forum members respond/agree/other, and see if that answers your questions for your return in 2020. Remember, everyone's take on "peak" is different so you have to decide for yourself how to interpret the reports coming in. I understand you drive long distances to reach a locale so I get your question.

Secondly, I often rely on Vermont state foresters for excellent feedback on conditions. They don't embellish the color, are pretty accurate and don't dwell on the "tourism" draw aspects. That's not their job. For example, I was in contact with a state forester for Lewis Pond at the Nulhegan Basin Wildlife Refuge (US Fish and Wildlife Service) before Phil (pwt) and I went last year. His report on the color and road conditions were spot on. He even told me to wait a couple of days regarding the foliage transition.

I also communicated with a couple state foresters in various counties for up to date road conditions (for class 4 roads and remote dirt back roads) and their interpretation on foliage color and how their county was effected by the moths/EAB, etc. (but you have to call late at night to get on the answering machine or get them before they head out for the day by calling early in the morning). They were VERY happy to have conversations with folks and proud to share their love for their job/state. I would not hesitate to recommend this approach. You have better luck calling rather than emailing in my experience. (Just leave one message, ok? :mrgreen: )

If I have time, I will find my list of forestry folks throughout the state. They ALWAYS called me back. Are you interested?

Hey, I wouldn't dwell on it for now because you have over a year to think about this! Good question though.

Relax! :wink: CT

Re: Peak reports

Posted: Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:08 pm
by viajero465
Excellent information! Thank you very much!

Yes, I am interested but please,.. not if it means undue work on your part. You have pointed me in the right direction and that is really all one can ask and hope for. The rest, quite properly, is work I have to do.


Re: Peak reports

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:11 am
by edmcguirk
No dis-service to forestry folks (even if they do call back), but hands down your best source of foliage conditions information are the people who post on this forum. The hard-core photographers and leaf peepers who post actively here will give you much more specific advice about locations, down to which roads to drive for the best views. There are a good number of people here (some of whom live in VT) that will provide everyone with a lot of specific advice. The state of Vermont has a foliage website, it posts reports and conditions, but the quality of reports from the folks here far exceeds what you get at the VT foliage website, or from randomly calling foresters. if you don't believe me, well just go back and read last years reports and you'll see what I mean.

The VT foliage reporting website posts with a slight lag, and it's information is geared to the general tourist, not the hardcore leaf peeper. Peak foliage can vary by as much as two weeks from year to year, and from location to location (varying elevation has a lot to do with this). The dilemma for people traveling to Vermont is that lodging is extremely hard to find unless you book 4 to 6 months in advance, you can't just look for a room each night or you will be sleeping in your car. This means you have to lock in a lodging date range way before anybody really knows when peak will be. So you play the odds, and book October week 1 for Northeast VT, or week 2 for central/southern Vermont. You may or may not time it right. And a lot of sources will tell you late September is peak, well that is no longer the case, it's been coming in October the past 5 years or so (probably global warming).

But once you are in Vermont, the Scenes of Vermont folks here can direct you to the best locations for the conditions that year, more or less in real time. We have people traveling all around the state and posting reports/pictures. The state of Vermont updates reports once or twice a week. And the foresters are not going to be pointing you to as good a quality of specific information, I guarantee it. And let me say this, Ctyanky knows more about where and when to go than any Vermont forester, listen to her advice.

Re: Peak reports

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:31 pm
by Colorado Mom
This forum is definitely one of the best places to get information on peak colors as you are traveling. My husband and I had one of our best trips ever by watching what everyone was saying. We would check the latest each night at our hotel and would often change plans according to great info we would read. I have to agree ctyanky knows everything!! I didn't know there was someone else out there that loved fall as much as I do!! I get a kick out of her counting down the days in the middle of winter just like I do. 63 days and counting......can't wait!

Re: Peak reports

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:18 pm
by viajero465
Thank you all for the information. I will most definitely check this forum daily this fall, as a trial run for the real thing next year.

So many places to see, in such a short period of time... this is why making the right choice is critical. Alas, my previous two trips have been great, but mostly trial and error; this time I want to nail it, as close to perfection as possible.

Re: Peak reports

Posted: Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:49 pm
by ctyanky
Thank you Ed and Colorado Mom for your boost of confidence but I dare say I know everything about Vermont. As a matter of fact, all my knowledge thus far has come mainly from my cherished SOV friends, who have taught me everything I ever wanted to know about Vermont. Phil (pwt) the kingpin of Vermont back roads and forum moderator, Charles (ixl) from Southern VT and a very accomplished photog, Tim our SOV board owner, bvahjen from Chester and Minnesotaman who spends a month in Vermont during foliage season. He is amazing!!!! I have gained a lot of self-assurance going out exploring on my own and this has lead to frequent trips to the state to expand my Vermont escapades and to find new adventures!

Without their input, I would not have ventured into the remote back roads (thank you Phil for Radar Road :shock: ) or had the depth of experience I have so far in the great state of Vermont. With their incredible knowledge and love for Vermont, I have been blessed. It has lead me to plan trips for family and friends and to share my findings here on SOV.

I have so much more to learn so that I can continue to share my love for Vermont and I owe it all to my Vermont friends!


Re: Peak reports

Posted: Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:01 am
by Andy
Hello Viajero465: First of all, welcome to our forum!! Reading your post, I know you are already somewhat familiar with Vermont. I did not see in the post where you were only going to visit in 2020? Are you a photographer?

I found this forum almost 15 years ago, when planning a photography trip to Vermont. It was (and generally remains) the only real, reliable resource for "real time" information about the foliage conditions. And "real time" is pretty important.

I spent many years of my youth on a farm in NW Vermont, but didn't venture far. In my mind, I recalled the vibrant fall foliage I experienced. But I was there on a daily basis. That was over 40 years ago.

As a photographer, like you, I often travel long distances to get to locations. For me not only is the foliage timing important, but the time of day is, also, which makes it that much more of a challenge. One thing that needs to be said is that foliage photography is often very different from foliage "viewing."

Over my several years of foliage shooting/viewing trips to Vermont, Northern Michigan, West Virginia, Maine and even out West, I have learned the hard way that foliage progression is very unpredictable - year to year, month to month and even day to day. So many factors effect it, including annual and current weather patterns, elevation, disease, and other factors. I agree with you that most of the predictive resources are not particularly useful for this purpose.

What I can virtually guarantee is that you will have to be willing to travel fairly long distances to go to the foliage. A few years back I stayed in Brattleboro for the first time, wanting to concentrate on Southern Vermont. Unfortunately the foliage was not great there, but was still good in the NEK and parts of Waitsfield. So we drove, often leaving our motel at 4:00 am and returning after dark. We found out about the good foliage both from here and from realtime contact (using the very spotty cell coverage) with "friends" from here.

Unfortunately, planning foliage trips can be difficult. If you have to fly to your destination and are not a billionaire, you have to be cognizant of flight costs and availability. My experience has been that the best deals are gotten by booking way out in advance. That doesn't work when you don't know the precised times you want to be there. I also worked for a living (like the vast majority of us :) ) and that meant trying to juggle work and family scheduling. Its a challenge.

I retired in March and look forward today, to being able to jump in my car and go at a day or two's notice.

Again, welcome and we look forward to seeing more of you here.

Best regards,

Re: Peak reports

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:48 pm
by viajero465
Thank you, Andy, for the advice and warm welcome.

I am a photography enthusiast, but I would not call myself a photographer. When I take photos I usually think "now, that's a great pic"; then, when by chance I see professional photos of the same or similar places in Flickr, I go back to my masterpiece and, alas, it no longer looks so breathtaking. I admire the work of real photographers and delight in their creations, but that is as far as it goes. So, to answer the question, I am a foliage viewer who takes photographs. Mind you, that doesn't mean I am not serious about photography. I am, it just so happens I lack the skills and the dedication to turn a snapshot into artwork.

In 2020 my wife and I plan to base ourselves in the Woodsville area and from there go on full day trips to wherever the foliage calls. After Columbus Day I plan to move southwest to somewhere central but always within VT, and again follow the foliage on day trips to anywhere within a 400 km round trip. I have done that before in New England during peak foliage and I am happy with the strategy. It's a lot of driving, but I don't mind it at all and much prefer that to motel hoping from place to place. I travel light but my wife's idea of "light" consists of not taking the concert piano with her and even that's an argument, so the idea of packing/unpacking every day fills me with dread. :)

Like you my wife and I are also retired and real fanatics about traveling, having been to the US many times over the years. We have been to every single one of the National Parks in the contiguous United States and we call the west of the US our second home. The only reason we don't spend more time in the US is to keep just this side of the IRS. :)

Best regards

Re: Peak reports

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:14 pm
by Andy
Viag: thanks for the reply. I like your definitions :) . I have been shooting since 1975, when I was living and attending college in Vermont. If you are on Facebook, and have seen the Page, "Vermont by a Vermonter," that is John Knox, my college math professor and original inspiration and teacher of photography. I like to hope I have grown to meet his standards.

My profession was a business and estate planning lawyer. Photography is a passion for me and I would call myself an "enthusiast," also, though I do think my craft has progressed beyond snapshots :D . To me, a "professional" is someone who does it for a living, does it for others, and has the skills, professionalism, and desire to deliver work as requested and promised. One of the most wonderful things about photography for me is that I don't have to do it! Having to do it would take the fun and wonder out of it for me. I also use it as an excuse to travel.

Our travels seem to have been more far-reaching. By October, we will have made 5 cruises in the British Isles and the Mediterranean. We have been to Ireland on a land-based trip, and to Tokyo and Kyoto on another. We have also done several cruises in the Caribbean. I have photographed all those places.

I have some catching up to you to do on the national parks, though I have been to Grand Teton, Yellowstone (briefly), and Acadia. Most of the rest are on my radar, someday. I have also shot in California, New Mexico, Wyoming, Minnesota, Michigan, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Vermont, Maine, and more recently, Florida.

If you have any interest, my images from around the world can be found at

Hope to see more of you here over the Fall months, and perhaps our paths will cross on the road someday.

Best regards, Andy

Re: Peak reports

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:52 pm
by viajero465
Ahh, far-reaching travels... OK, I'll bite. :)

These are some of our destinations in the last 50 years!
This fall we will be in Spain, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, winter in UT and CO, spring in Australia, China and Japan, summer in WY, MT, Adirondacks and Appalachians... so that leaves fall 2020 free to do beautiful New England.

Our daughter says we are trying really hard to spend her inheritance!. We tell her "too right", as we book the next trip. :)

I too hope we will cross paths one day. I have totally run out of ears to bash with travel war stories at home; they see me and run. :)


Re: Peak reports

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:52 pm
by ctyanky
viajero: I am over the top impressed with your travels! Kudos! I lived in Israel. Where are you going there? I was in northern Negev. My daughter says the same to me! I just tell her I got her covered! :mrgreen:

Re: Peak reports

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:38 pm
by viajero465
Hi ctyanky,

We are going to visit Jerusalem, Judean Desert, Samaria, Jordan Valley, Beit Shean, Yardenit, Safed, Nazareth, Tabgha, Capernahum, Tiberias, Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Massada and the Dead Sea.

Should be quite a trip.


Re: Peak reports

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:44 pm
by ctyanky
Tiberias and Acre were outstanding. Can you squeeze in Rosh Hanikra? The Dead Sea and Masada (Metzudah) were my heartthrobs. Wait till you get to the top of Masada!!!! Go visit the old temple by yourselves. A memory to last forever! Haifa and Tel Aviv very charming but very citified and modern! My daughter and my entire family has gone and it is a lifetime trip. (Long trip!) :D

Re: Peak reports

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:52 pm
by viajero465
ctyanky: forgot to mention... many, many years ago, when I was 25, I spent a full week in a kibbutz, at a time when visiting Israel was kind of silly. I'm not Jewish but, hey, when you are 25 everything is an adventure. It was one of the most defining moments of my life. After that, for a lark, I flew the inaugural El-Al flight Tel Aviv - Cairo. That was unbelievable... never have I've seen so many battle tanks on arrival at any airport, and I have been to some pretty scary places. :)

Nowadays I think twice about going to NYC. Why does age changes one so much? :)