Find the Best Fall Foliage

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Japanese Maples in red and yellows

Fall Leaf-Peeping

Fall is traditionally known as Autumn or the harvest season. Fall moves summer into winter and the bounty of the year is judiciously brought up, canned, preserved, and enjoyed. If you’ve spent much time around Made + Remade lately, you’ve probably seen all of the creative, delightful, and yummy ways to enjoy pumpkins, those autumnal icons.

There is something indescribable about the changing of the seasons: The crispness in the air, the coolness of the days, and the changing of the colors. Though fall officially started at the equinox, here in the mid-East Coast we just got a blast of cool air that is ushering in the brilliant colors of fall foliage. It’s the kind of brilliance that makes people in the far South and West (where the climate is more temperate) envious.

But to enjoy the sights, your window of opportunity is narrow. Be sure to get out and enjoy those fall colors before the leaves drop! Not sure where and when to look? Read on to find out all about it …

When and Where?

With the ever decreasing sunlight after the equinox (where the day and night are equal), deciduous trees respond by slowing their production of chlorophyll in leaves. As the chlorophyll dissipates, other pigments become more prominent, shifting the color from green through yellow to red. Different species react differently so it is easy to find a dazzling display of colors all in one spot.

Right now, the northern portion of the country is either at its peak, or moving past peak. The mid-coast states are all about to experience the shift. An easy way to keep tabs on your neck of the woods is to check out these online foliage maps:

The Weather Channel Foliage Map

Yankee Foliage Map

U.S. Forest Service Foliage Map

 

Can’t Change Your Latitude? Change Your Altitude!

Just dying to see those colors right now? If you live in an area still far from peak colors and can’t trek out on a road trip to New England, chances are you can still find fall foliage near home. Since higher elevations stay cooler year-round, fall colors will peak sooner than low-lying areas. Most states (less portions of the Midwest) have mountainous areas. Set out to explore your own state and get a double dose of color when your local leaves change later.

Get Out and Explore!

Many people associate the fall colors with slow drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway or other scenic routes. While a car might be required for you to see the colors now, enjoying nature at 45 mph is really missing out. Take some friends and hike a trail. Enjoy the sights and sounds from a bike. Not only is it healthier for you but you are more likely to fully take in what fall has to offer when immersed in it.

Not sure where to go? You can check out lists of local trails here:

TrailLink list of bike trails

Trails.com list of  trails by state

Local botanical gardens can also be hot spots for the novice to see and compare identified species.

Learn It and Share!

While you are out, make it a full-on DIY education. Slowly notice which trees are changing. What colors are their leaves? What do they look like? Which ones seem immune to the colder nights? There are a variety of tree and plant guides meant specifically for trail use. I prefer the ones with real pictures instead of hand-drawn illustrations as it is easier to notice the nuances between surface texture, vein shape, and color.

Prefer to hike and bike minimally? No problem, with smarthphones, yes, there is an app (or two) for this:

Leafsnap for iOS lets you compare color photos with full size scales and even snap photos for identification.

Virginia Tech Tree ID for Android lets you focus in on species that only grow in your area to make novice identification easier.

Once you’ve identified some species, share that trip with all of @DIYNetwork and your friends with the appropriate hashtag. Right now #fall has up to 1,000 hits per hour on Twitter and almost 12 million photos on Instagram! And remember to let us know by adding #maderemade.

Shy? Don’t worry, I’ll break the ice, errr… colors.

Prefer the real thing? Bring some samples home and preserve those pretty fall colors with Emily Fazio’s great guide!

And tell me, where’s your favorite spot to enjoy the fall foliage in your neck of the woods? Happy fall!

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About Dylan Eastman 

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At a young age, I learned how things worked by taking them apart and (successfully) putting them back together. I've always approached life as an opportunity to learn new skills, ...

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