Leaf peeping: it’s a thing and it’s not too late to do it

Leaf peeping: it’s a thing and it’s not too late to do it

Have you leaf peeped this fall? If you live in eastern Canada or on the West Coast (sorry, Prairies), it’s not too late to chase the colourful change of seasons.

Thanks to warmer temperatures in September, the fall foliage “peak” (when all the leaves have turned) is about a week-and-a-half behind schedule.

“We’re really at the prime viewing right now,” said Kevin Forget of Ontario Tourism.

“Normally Thanksgiving is the prime time. Right now, if people are planning to take a trip to see the fall colours, they still have plenty of time to see it. And they’re really, really bright right now.”

Leaf peeping: it’s a thing and it’s not too late to do it

READ MORE: Why do leaves change colour in the fall?

As leaf peepers flock to see all the reds, oranges and yellows, they bring in a lot of green. Forget estimates the economic impact for Ontario is in the millions.

“Especially this year with the American dollar being the way that it is, we have had a huge influx of American visitors coming up to see the fall colours.”

Still, leaf peeping doesn’t seem to be quite as popular north of the border as in the States, where one estimate says the fall activity may contribute upwards of $30 billion across the 24 states in the eastern half of the country.

New England is pretty much the mecca of leaf peeping. You can take picturesque train tours (there’s one happening next weekend), stay (and even help) at local farms, or just rent a car and explore on your own.

If you choose the latter route, you might just run into extreme peeper Jeff “Foliage” Folger on a random dirt road. That’s one of his favourite spots to leaf peep.

Leaf peeping in Quebec

Patricia Kozicka, Global News

He’s put in over 6,000 kilometres this season so far, mostly in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. He and his wife joke that she’s a “foliage widow” this time of year.

The 56-year-old retired Air Force member is always looking for that perfect peep. He even has “sources” (park rangers, other photographers) to help him find it.

His prime picture-taking time is during the first couple hours of light in the morning and last few in the afternoon. Those moments are “exhilarating” for him.

“It’s a gift. It’s sort of like Christmas morning…you get a package and you don’t know what’s in it and you open it up to see what you got.

“Some years I get coal. Some years I get gold.”

Folger shares some of his best photos on his blog and New England Fall Foliage Facebook page, where he encourages other leaf peepers to do the same. On there, he also tries to predict the best times and places to leaf peep. Some international visitors reach out to him as early as January for advice. It’s earned him the nickname “arboreal oracle.”

He hopes to one day find his Canadian equivalent.

For now, we have provincial fall colour reports. For Ontario, the recommended leaf peeping spots in Ontario include:

  • Sault Ste. Marie (northern Ontario) – You’ll find reds, oranges, golds and burgundies here.
  • Muskoka (central Ontario) – “Stop at Muskoka Beach for a gorgeous view of Lake Muskoka, sections of the road are like a canopy,” according to the foliage report.
  • Prince Edward County (eastern Ontario) – The County Road 13 (from Richardson Lookout to Black River Cheese) is described in the report “as driving through a tunnel of leaves.”

Quebec’s Charlevoix region is also quite renowned.

Leaf peeping: it’s a thing and it’s not too late to do it

For those who’d like to discover the fall foliage of New England, Folger recommends you plan ahead as much as possible (accommodations book up quickly this time of year) and try to pick one area to fully explore. Here’s his quick guide on what parts of New England have to offer leaf peepers:

  • Vermont – mountains, lakes, farmlands, wide range of things and places people to see
  • New Hampshire – higher mountains, woods; villages and towns nestled in valleys amid mountains; more farms down south (download the New Hampshire foliage tracker app if you’re there)
  • Maine – more hills and mountain areas; a lot less towns; the ocean
  • Massachusetts – a lot of history
  • Connecticut and Rhode Island – mansions, villages, horse ranches, beautiful farms

SOUND OFF: Do you have a favourite spot for leaf peeping? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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