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Autumn leaves beckon

Road trip this weekend will be cloudy, colorful

Saturday, October 6, 2012
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A pickup truck turns off tree-lined Main Street in Delanson on Friday.
A pickup truck turns off tree-lined Main Street in Delanson on Friday.

— People who describe foliage colors get to toss around exotic descriptions like burgundy, maroon and magenta — and now is when they do it.

We’ve arrived at Columbus Day weekend, when fall colors are usually approaching their peak — and people who want to see the transformation of maples and birch traditionally use terms like “road trip.”

The state and the trees are cooperating with the holiday weekend road-trip mentality, the weather a little less so.

At a glance

The state’s I Love NY program offers several driving tour suggestions, ones that will still be good this weekend or over the next week or two:

• Touring the western Schenectady County hills, following routes 7 and 20.

• Driving from downtown Albany out Route 85, through John Boyd Thacher State Park and the Helderberg Mountains.

• Follow Routes 67 and 22 from Mechanicville to Whitehall, on the Vermont-New York border and the shores of Lake Champlain.

•u Drive from Lake Luzerne to Lake George in Warren County, and then north up Route 9 to Pottersville.

The Twin Bridges construction project that’s been a weekend chokepoint on the Northway is suspended by the state Department of Transportation for this weekend to facilitate Columbus Day travelers.

That’s convenient for those who want to catch the brightest colors over the holiday, when most government workers and many private sector employees have a three-day weekend.

The I Love NY Fall Foliage Report says the best foliage changes this weekend will be in the Adirondacks and Catskills, with the most brilliant colors in most of the Capital Region still a week or so away.

“I think we had a little later start to the foliage season this year,” said Eric Sheffel, spokesman for the state foliage report. “The good news is that we have great peak colors this weekend in the Adirondacks and Catskills.”

The Adirondack High Peaks are at peak color, and so are western Adirondack communities like Old Forge, “with some of the brightest and boldest colors in years,” according to the Foliage Report.

The colors are coming out despite concerns earlier in the fall that this would be a weak foliage year because trees were stressed over the summer by the high temperatures and lack of rainfall.

“In the Capital Region, we’re getting some peak or very near peak colors in northern Fulton County,” Sheffel said.

Northern and eastern Rensselaer County also has strong color, he said. In Saratoga County and the Albany hilltowns color is at about 50 percent, foliage observers have told the state.

Unfortunately, for those who want their flaming oranges and ochers lit by bright sunshine and offset against robin’s egg skies, the weather isn’t expected to cooperate.

The National Weather Service is predicting overcast skies both today and Sunday, with a threat of showers.

“It’s not going to be a washout. There’s a chance of showers throughout the weekend,” said Ian Lee, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany.

Monday may be the best weather day of the weekend, Lee said, with some chance of sunshine returning.

In Warren County, Lake George is at about 50 percent color change, while points farther north in the county are more advanced, said county tourism spokeswoman Joanne Conley.

Columbus Day is the busiest weekend of the fall for Warren County shops and restaurants, though many seasonal businesses will close up after this weekend.

“It’s very pretty,” Conley said. “There’s still enough green to make the colors really stand out. Next weekend will still be beautiful.”

Elsewhere in Warren County, the hamlet of Bolton Landing on Lake George will have its village-wide garage sale this weekend, for anyone who missed last weekend’s Warrensburg garage sale.

The town of Thurman will offer a self-guided farm tour, while in North Creek, Gore Mountain will be holding its annual Harvest Fest today and Sunday, with a variety of food vendors and family activities.

Admission to the Harvest Fest is free. There is a charge, though, for the popular scenic gondola rides up Gore Mountain to a spot that offers panoramic views across the southern Adirondacks.

And despite what state officials might wish you’d believe, New York doesn’t have a lock on good foliage viewing.

Vermont is known around the world for its fall beauty. The best colors currently within a reasonably short drive of the Capital Region are along Route 9 — the Molly Stark Trail — through the Green Mountains between Bennington and Brattleboro.

In Massachusetts, the Berkshires are also at peak or close to peak colors. Route 2 is a prime destination. But for travel planning purposes, be aware that everyone in Boston knows that, too.

 
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