With fall chill, expect color

The cold nights and frosty mornings over the weekend were expected to kick-start the color change in

The cold nights and frosty mornings over the weekend were expected to kick-start the color change in fall foliage, according to leaf experts.

Wet weather and warm temperatures earlier in the month had slowed down the annual progression of leaf color from green to orange, yellow, red and burgundy.

Foliage change across New York state is continuing at a slow but steady pace, with the most significant color found in the higher elevations of the Adirondacks and some areas of the Catskills, say the foliage observers for Empire State Development’s “I Love New York” program.

But even in places like Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks, color change is only at about 35 percent of peak.

In the Capital Region the color change will only be 10 to 15 percent of peak this week with bright red, along with some yellow, leaves beginning to appear at the base of tree canopies in Schenectady County, according field observers for Empire State Development’s Fall Foliage Report (www.iloveny.com).

The changing colors are coming as the season changes from summer to fall on Friday.

The dramatic fall foliage colors in upstate New York generate significant tourism dollars as leaf peepers travel to see the colors.

Flood damage

But the annual trend is complicated this fall by the flooding damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in parts of the region, especially in Schoharie and Montgomery counties as well as parts of the eastern Adirondacks.

“Most of our main roads are open,” said Karen Miller, a public information officer for Schoharie County.

“Things are getting better every day,” Miller said. “We are encouraging people to come.”

Miller said cleanup work is still being done in hard-hit communities along the Schoharie Creek but many attractions have reopened, including Howe’s Caverns at Route 7 and Route 45.

“Fall is one of our main tourism times,” Miller said. “We are on the leaf-peeping route.”

She said most apple orchards in the county are open because they are generally located on higher ground so visitors can enjoy fresh apples, apple cider and associated treats.

All state parks in the Capital Region are open with the exception of Schoharie Crossing, which has been closed because of extensive flooding damage, said Daniel Keefe, a spokesman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

He said state parks that have campsites — such as Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County — will continue to offer camping through October.

“They are all open as they would normally be,” Keefe said.

The beaches on the lakes in some state parks were damaged by the storms but the lakes are closed to swimming at this time of the year anyway.

Keefe said park visitors should be prepared to encounter some erosion and tree branches on hiking trails because of storm damage but this damage is not widespread.

“We are open and ready,” Keefe said about the state parks.

In the neighboring state of Vermont, the fall foliage season is expected to be excellent. But parts of the state were also hit hard by flooding from Irene so visitors should call ahead to check local road conditions and information about alternate routes. Those visiting Vermont can also check the website www.vermont.com for foliage reports as well as road conditions.

“In the early stages of fall foliage, the best color can generally be found in higher elevations, the northern sections of the state, and in low-lying areas where red maples are the early sentinels of seasonal changes,” says a statement from the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

Categories: Schenectady County

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