Fall Foliage

2011 Foliage Season: River Valleys and the Lake Champlain Shoreline Take the Spotlight

by Vermont.com Staff

“Despite some midweek rain and wind, foresters report that the autumn display continues in the lower elevation valleys along the eastern and western borders of Vermont. The most abundant foliage is found in the rolling hills of the broad Champlain Valley, including the Lake Champlain Islands and the Burlington area, and in the valleys of southern Vermont.

In southeast Vermont along the Connecticut River, the lower elevations are in full color, reports Forester Sam Schenski about the Brattleboro to Springfield region.

‘Color is still good in the lower valleys where the oaks are coming to a red to russet peak. They are especially nice when larch, poplars or beech are mixed in, contributing yellow contrasts. I-91 and I-89 both have some scenic views. Route 5, which runs north/south along the Connecticut River, is a good bet for a nice drive,’ says Windsor County Forester Jonathan Bouton.

He agrees with the foresters who have suggested that the back roads and trails are a great way to enjoy the foliage. ‘The leaves on the trails and roads make for beautiful drives or walks,’ he adds.

To the north, around Burlington, Chittenden County Forester Keith Thompson says the foliage is little changed from early in the week. ‘The hillsides still have a spattering of color, with some pockets still exhibiting brilliant color in Underhill, Jericho, Hinesburg, Huntington and Richmond,’ he reports.

Due to the warming lake effect, good color persists along the lake all the way north to the Canadian border. ‘St. Albans, Fairfield, and The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge in Swanton are all really great places to visit right now. The refuge is teeming with waterfowl and the colors are beautiful,’ suggests Franklin County Forester Nancy Patch.

‘Color is still plentiful on the western sloping hillsides and valleys along the north/south corridors. Poking around the back roads in Addison County (south and west of Middlebury) and Rutland County will not be a disappointment as the rolling hillsides and valleys in these locations are sheltered from the elements,’ reports Tom Olson from the New England Maple Museum.

Also, areas of bright foliage will still be found in the sheltered mountain villages and towns of central and northern Vermont, though the hills and mountain sides appear increasingly gray as the leaves drop from the canopy. At the same time, anyone hiking or walking woodland trails will find that the understory of smaller, younger trees feature a second wave of color, typically intense lemon yellows.

‘Most of the areas here in the northern tier are past peak although there are pockets that are still there. The colors are down to gentle russets, soft yellows and pastel orange at this point. It is a lovely time to take a hike on a colorful carpet of newly fallen leaves,’ concludes Lamoille County Forester Ray Toolan.”

The Fall Foliage season in Vermont is one of the busiest times of the year while visitors flock from all over the world to witness the beautiful changing colors. This year it will be more important than ever to call ahead for reservations and check on Road Conditions.

Parts of our updates are thanks to the USDA Forest Service, the Vermont Department of Tourism, and various “Leaf Peepers” around the state. If you’d like to be on Vermont.com’s “Leaf Squad” to help report the Foliage conditions in your area of Vermont, please contact us!

To view our first-hand reports throughout the state of Vermont, visit our Vermont Fall Foliage Reports.

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