Want to get up to Storm King or Mohonk Mountain House (swoooon) for peak fall foliage? Then you'll need to check a foliage map for when the most beautiful dead leaves will be readying to drop and carpet the ground. How do they even put those maps together? Recently we learned that the I LOVE NEW YORK map, a go-to for New Yorkers, is run via passionate leaf peepers statewide. In an email that all-too-briefly tugged my brain away from the current hellscape, I was told the below, which is also my pitch to the Lifetime Channel for an Autumn Rom-Com based around leaf peepers. Call me.
Unlike other similar maps, this initiative is still curated by passionate humans across the state, forgoing the use of drones, apps or fancy algorithms.
Jim Carroll and Regina Rockburn have been Leaf Peeping in the Adirondacks around Tupper Lake for nearly 20 years. Lured in by an ad in the local newspaper, they have always loved taking hikes and photos, so leaf peeping seemed like a natural integration into their life.
On the daily, they wander to local areas such as The Wild Center to look at foliage and often use crayons, fruits, veggies and Benjamin Moore colors to describe the rich spectrum of hues that they uncover. According to them, most people love the deep reds, especially Sugar Maple. Every Wednesday morning, they send their report (many by phone) to Eric Scheffel, the Public Information Specialist for I LOVE NEW YORK, who then compiles the information into a state-wide map. Their report includes: Predominant Colors, Brilliance, Rating, Percentage of trees changed and more.
In a world obsessed with instantaneous data collection and precision, it’s a heartwarming reality to see that a map created to inspire passionate fall travel is, in fact, created by a collection of people who are passionate about fall.
This is just the kind of delightful, Norman Rockwell shit I needed to hear about.
There are around 75 peepers in New York State, though we're told that NYC has a limited number of spotters. As of this week "these spotters have not reported anything as of yet." If you want to become a part the New York State Leaf Peeper Program, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up. But before you focus on all this autumn nonsense, please make sure you are an empowered and informed member of society.