I predicted that we were headed into the Peak Week of fall foliage on Thursday, October 6th. I was tentative, especially about figuring out the front end of our area’s Peak Week. But I felt pretty confident that we’d be past the peak by Thursday, October 20th. And now that we’ve hit that point on the calendar, I can speak more confidently: a sort of “Peak Week Retrospective.” So, I’m going to say this year’s Peak Week was October 13-19.
It’s so hard to know, in the moment. Even the scientists seem to prefer predictions to hard data, because it’s so variable. But in my personal, subjective opinion, I think the absolute zenith of this year’s fall foliage fell on Saturday, October 15th, or Sunday, October 16th. Before last weekend, there was still a decent amount of green in the forest canopy, even as the colors built. After last weekend, more and more bare branches started to emerge from the tree canopy. (Especially on Monday and Tuesday, when a windy weather system swept through). So, building out the week around those dates means this year’s Peak Week ran from, roughly, October 13th through 19th.
I honestly think that this year’s fall foliage is above average. Even the week leading up to the peak and the week following the peak (which is still unfolding) would be considered pretty spectacular peak conditions, most years. The maples have been as vibrant as ever. The oaks, however, have been more crimson than usual (starting earlier than usual). The ashes and hickories and sycamore and tulip trees are all various shades of yellow, but they’re amazing in their own ways. All together, their effect is stunning.
A “Peak Week Retrospective” means that the best conditions are past for most of the sections of trees that can be seen from the roads and around town. But peak conditions will persist deeper in the forest for a couple more weeks. So it’s not too late to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall foliage. The transience is part of the beauty!