We love being peepers. Leaf peepers, that is. Although we think the term has a little too much innuendo attached to it, we love to take a road trip to see the signs of fall. If you want to get into this easy hobby and become the perfect leaf peeper, here are some things you need to know.
Get to know the leaf lingo:
- An organized leaf peeping trip is called a foliage tour.
- Hardcore hobbyists like to call their tours “leaf peepshows.”
- If a local doesn’t like leaf peepers, they will call them leafers.
- Early. If you’re reading a foliage map at the beginning of September, you’ll see this term a lot. It means that less than 10% of trees in the area have started to change.
- Patchy, Partial or Mid-Peak. About 30-40% of leaves are starting to show some signs of changing. Usually, New England reaches this stage by late September to mid-October. If autumn is a warm one, some areas won’t reach partial until the end of October.
- Peak. 50-70% of trees have changed over to the vibrant colors we love to see. Most people plan their trips during this stage. Trees are losing a minimal amount of leaves and the colors are at their brightest.
- Past peak. 75-100% of trees have changed. Despite its name, Past Peak is still a great time to be leaf peeping. Colors may not be as vibrant, and trees will be losing their leaves, but you will see the most diversity in hue during this time.
What you should bring:
- Travel basics. A map, bug spray, and binoculars. If you’re going to be doing any traveling in New England during the fall, these three things are essential. A map is always a good idea, especially in more mountainous areas where cell service is spotty. If you plan on hiking anywhere, you need bug spray. This is peak time for ticks because they are looking for a cozy host for the winter. Binoculars are a great way to not only see the trees but also the native birds who call them home.
- A smartphone. Since most of us use our phone as a camera anyways. Also, like most things in life, there’s an app for that. Apps like LeafPeepr and Leafsnap are like having your own personal field guide. You can check out the foliage maps, talk to other peepers, and even take pictures to help you identify what leaves you’re looking at. Leaf it to technology to make this easy fall hobby even easier.
- Layers. We know you’ve heard that saying “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” That saying is the truest during fall in New England. Mornings can get pretty cold around here, down to 30ºF in some mountainous areas. During the afternoon, it’s not shocking to see temperatures climb into the mid-80s. Layer up and you’ll be comfortable when that mid-day heatwave hits.
- Cash. Fall tourism helps many small businesses in the area stay afloat during the quieter winter months. When you’re planning your leaf peepshow, put in some stops to local farm stands and apple orchards (many of which are cash-only). Your leaf peeping trip won’t be complete without a hot, fresh apple cider doughnut.
America isn’t the only country full of peepers. In Japan, they call this hobby momijigari, which roughly translates to “red leaf hunting”. Kyoto is one of the most famous destinations to go leaf peeping in Japan and has led to more trees being planted in the city.
So whether you’re going to a leaf peepshow or going momijigari, take these tips with you and enjoy the season. If any of our Neighbors have their own leaf peeping tips, leave them in the comments.