Some may say that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but in New Hampshire, don’t neglect foliage season as a serious contender to that crown.
Outsiders flock to the Granite State to get a glimpse of the colorful array of leaves on our trees, which is certainly a nice boost to the local economy.
But for some reason, everyone associates the foliage season with the White Mountain and Lakes regions of the state. Sure, the colors are great, the potential for beautiful pictures is plentiful and let’s be honest, those are a couple awesome locations. But foliage is all over the state, including right here in Concord.
In fact, since the foliage begins in the northern part of the state and moves down, Concord can boast about its fantastic colors much later in the season than places like Lincoln and Jackson.
Like many other news organizations, we tracked down Dave Anderson, director of education at the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests, to learn all about what makes foliage season in the Granite State such a great time of year. Because, if you want to learn about trees, might as well go straight to the experts.
“Once a year, it’s like Christmas around here and we’re Santa Claus,” Anderson said. “So in a way I have to reinvent Christmas each year.”
While people are in search of the reds, yellows and oranges “the real color of fall foliage is green,” Anderson said.
That’s because the trees in New Hampshire this time of year bring in a lot of money to the state. The forecast for this season (economic and not weather) according to the N.H. Division of Travel and Tourism is that a whopping 9.8 million visitors will come to the Granite State and spend $1.5 billion this fall.
“See what our forests are really worth,” Anderson said.
Let’s hope a large chunk of that comes to Concord, because like we said before, there’s some pretty cool looking trees all around us.
Did you know that New Hampshire is the second most forested state by land area – only trailing Maine – with 84 percent coverage.
The funny thing about foliage is that people always want to make comparisons to previous years. It’s the same as they do with snowstorms; it’s never as big, bright and plentiful as we remember. But in actuality, foliage is always good. It’s all about getting out there and enjoying what nature gives us at just the right time.
“Foliage has always been foliage, there’s not a lot of variety from year to year,” Anderson said. “But almost to a fault, people are really nostalgic in the fall and they want it to be picture perfect – and everyone wants that quintessential photo.”
Sure, wind and rain can put a damper on the latter stages of foliage season, but let’s not worry about that until it happens – which it hopefully won’t.
As we mentioned before, foliage begins in the north and higher elevations, and the process of how the leaves change is pretty cool – keep reading this paper for your weekly science lesson.
The rule of thumb is that right around Columbus Day is when the foliage will hit its peak in the northern part of the state, but due to the cool, wet summer, the colors began to pop out a little earlier this year. But that’s okay, because as Anderson pointed out, Columbus Day is also a little early, too.
“Peak foliage is kind of a myth because what if it comes in the middle of the night?” Anderson said. “The quality of foliage is so subjective.”
Anderson considers Concord as sort of a gateway to the foliage. Once you head north out of town, you’ll soon get to the Lakes Region on your way to the White Mountains. Heading north on I-89 is a great drive, as is out Route 4 to Boscawen. But we like to stay local, mostly because there’s an invisible line that we’re not allowed to cross, so if you take the drive out toward Carter Hill Orchard and Rossview Farm, the rolling hills are a great place to catch some colorful trees.
“Foliage is just as awesome around Concord,” Anderson said. “And you’re not going to have the lines of buses.”
If you’re worried about what kind of foliage season it will be, it’s pretty simple.
“If there are green leaves on the trees in September, there will be foliage,” Anderson said.
Right now, the foliage is starting to make an appearance on some trees, but when we traveled around the outskirts of the city, we saw mostly green. But that’s a good thing, because that means the best is yet to come. You’ll just have to keep an eye on the trees to make sure you get the best views.