What experts are saying about the 2023 fall foliage season in New England

New England Travel

The Boston area has a better outlook this year, according to foliage expert Jim Salge.

In this October 1998 file photo, a farmer chops corn in front of a hillside of color in Richmond, Vt. Toby Talbot / AP, File

New England’s incredibly wet weather this year will impact the region’s iconic fall foliage season, according to Jim Salge, former meteorologist at the Mount Washington Observatory and foliage expert for Yankee magazine.

  • One of Vermont’s most photographed foliage spots closing to tourists this fall

The publication released its fall foliage forecast for the 2023 season, with Salge predicting an early and long season full of pastel colors. There will be pastel hues this year because, among other reasons, rain dilutes the sugar mixture in the leaves, he said.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty year. I just don’t think it’s going to be bold,” Salge said.

There’s good news for city dwellers looking to leaf peep this season. The Boston area has a better outlook this year than last year, Salge said, when the drought caused browning on urban trees.

“The best 2023 New England fall foliage areas are likely to be northern Maine as well as Down East and toward Acadia, and southern New England could have a good year as well,” according to Salge.

Ahead, experts from each New England state share their foliage expectations for 2023 and the best leaf peeping destinations.


Massachusetts fall foliage. – Courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

“This year, we’re facing the opposite issue we had last year,” said Nicole Keleher, forest health director for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). “Last year was too dry, and this year it was pretty wet.”

Wet weather means more pathogens and fungi are active on the leaves, which can impact how long the leaves stay on the trees and prevent that “full overlap” of colors, she said.

Upcoming fall conditions will impact the colors as well, she said.

“You just might see more of a variation in our forests than we usually do,” she said. “You’ll still some trees that have that crazy vibrant orange and you might see some that have more muted, pastel tones. It will just be a little bit more variable.”

Folks can enjoy peak in the western part of the state where there’s more maple-dominated forests in early October and then eastward where there’s more oak-dominated forests in the second or third week of October, she said.

Keleher recommended hitting a bike trail, such as the Cape Cod Rail Trail or Norwottuck Rail Trail.

“It’s a great time to get out biking and you can cover a lot of distance and see a lot of cool trees,” she said.

Other great spots for viewing foliage, she said, are the Quabbin Reservoir, Blue Hills Reservation, Mount Greylock State Reservation, and Wachusett Mountain State Reservation.

You can track the foliage and find fall activities at visitma.com.

Watch: Dave Epstein’s guide to leaf peeping this fall

New Hampshire

New England Fall Foliage
In this Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 photo, a tourist photographs Crawford Notch in Carroll, N.H., as foliage reaches peak in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. – AP Photo/Jim Cole

This year’s wet weather will not put a damper on the fall foliage season, said Steven Roberge, extension forestry specialist with UNH Cooperative Extension.

“The wet summer we had, the water is good for trees,” he said. “They are not drought stressed or anything like that. There may be a little fungal infection here or there on the leaves. But for the most part, it’s not going to cause a widespread issue with the foliage.”

Roberge said he’s more focused on the weather ahead rather than what has already happened.

“It’s very difficult to predict fall foliage,” he said. “The development of fall foliage and how it is presented has everything to do with the fall foliage season and not so much the weather leading up to it.”

The deep reds and purples will develop with the right combination of bright, sunny fall days and cool, crisp nights, he said.

“There’s going to be pockets that are going to be magnificent and there’s going to be pockets that are not so great,” he said. “But that happens every year.”

Peak usually happens in late September into early October, he said.

He recommended folks head to the White Mountains, the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, a 34.5-mile scenic drive along New Hampshire’s Route 112, the Monadnock Region, and Pittsburg.

You can follow the foliage reports and plan your fall adventures at visitnh.gov.


– David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe

“We’re poised to have great foliage this year,” said Joshua Halman, forest health program manager for the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation. “In general, the trees are looking really healthy across the landscape.”

This year’s wet weather might cause the leaves to change a bit earlier, Halman said, as he’s already seeing “blushes of color.”

“Specifically we’ve seen some color changing in the Northeast Kingdom of the state as well as the northwest corner of the state,” he said.

What happens with the weather next will determine the colors, and we need the “famous recipe of cool nights and sunny days” going forward,” he said.

“If we get those conditions, we’re poised to get brilliant foliage,” he said.

Leaf peepers in Vermont can expect peak foliage at the end of September and early October, Halman said. The color progresses from north to south.

Some great places for viewing foliage include Brighton State Park and Maidstone State Park, he said, as well as Smugglers’ Notch and Manchester.

“Just being anywhere in Vermont and being willing to drive around a little bit to find spots and explore the state a little bit can be a great way to check out foliage and see parts of the state you’ve never seen before,” Halman said.

Follow the foliage and discover things to do at vermontvacation.com.


In this Oct. 23, 2017, file photo, the State House is surrounded by fall foliage in Augusta, Maine. – The Associated Press

Maine’s foliage may get a boost this year due to the rain, said Gale Ross, fall foliage spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry in Maine.

“I think it’s anticipated that this year’s rainfall will enhance the fall colors,” she said. “Unlike the last two seasons when Maine experienced a drought in the summer.”

In the higher elevations, especially in the wetter areas, some color may appear a bit earlier, she said. But for the most part she expects a typical foliage timeline, Ross said.

“It really is about our weather going forward as well,” she said. “We need the cool nights, shortened days, and no major frost or dips in the temperatures.”

As usual, the color progresses from the north to the south, she said. The northern portion of the state usually reaches peak in the last week of September into the first week of October, she said, with the central part and mountains reaching peak during the first and second weeks in October. And southern Maine and coastal areas will see peak last.

Ross recommended folks check out Maine’s blueberry barrens during the first week of October into the second week.

“If you’ve never seen a blueberry barren at peak season, it’s just absolutely spectacular because you are seeing the foliage on the ground from the barren but you’re also seeing peak conditions in the canopies and trees as well.”

Visitors should also check out Fish River Scenic Byway and Camden Hills State Park, she said.

You can track the foliage and find fall activities at mainefoliage.com.

Rhode Island

Brown University’s campus in Providence provides a nice Ivy League setting for viewing the changing landscape.  – Flickr / Stephanie

The wet weather may put a damper on this season’s colors, according to Lou Allard, urban and community forestry program coordinator with Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management.

“You’re going to see color,” he said. “It may not be as bright as in some years.”

“It’s great that we’ve had this much rain. But it can be considered a little excessive, which can cause some issues with some of the trees and the brightness of the leaf color this year,” he said.

Wet weather can water down the sugar in the leaves, which creates that bright color, he said. But warmer days and cool nights ahead could improve the colors, he said.

Visitors can usually find peak foliage across the state during the three-day holiday weekend in October, he said.

Allard said great viewing spots include Long Pond Woods Wildlife Refuge as well as Blythwold Mansion, situated on 33 acres with views of Narragansett Bay.

“That’s a really great one with several of the state’s champion trees and really nice views out there,” he said about the latter.

He also encouraged folks to take the RI Walks Challenge this year, where participants can explore land trust trails and search for 34 cut steel sculptures inspired by nature.

You can track the fall foliage and find fall activities at visitri.com.


This undated photo provided by the Connecticut Office of Tourism shows fall foliage surrounding Hueblein Tower on Talcott Mountain in Bloomfield, Conn. – Kindra Clineff / Connecticut Office of Tourism via AP

This year’s foliage season in Connecticut will be better than last year’s, according to Chris Martin, forestry director at the Connecticut Bureau of Natural Resources.

“I think it’s going to be a good year, better than last year because we had abundant rainfall, the trees are healthy,” Martin said. “There is some leaf fungus and some blotchiness, but that is going to fade in the background and those colors are going to come forth.”

Martin is seeing color already in the red maple swamps, which is typical, he said. Peak color should take place the week of Oct. 9-14, he said, noting that September’s weather needs to cooperate.

“I think the biggest influencer this year is going to be these overnight temperatures,” he said, because dropping temperatures is what triggers the change.

Martin recommended checking out foliage at Haystack Mountain State Park and Mohawk Mountain, as well as Pachaug State Forest  and Talcott Mountain State Park featuring the Heublein Tower.

You can track the foliage and find fall activities at ctvisit.com.