NYC: Fall Foliage and Where to Find it

Photos by Izzy Lopez


For our first official Mappy Hour of autumn 2017, we worked with Columbia Sportswear (Meatpacking) to bring two outdoor experts to New York City: Alex Marra, the CEO Of Hudson Valley Weather, and co-founder of Upstate Adventure Guides and Will Soter the other Co-Founder of Upstate Adventure Guides and Assistant Director of the Catskills Conservation Core. Alex and Will teamed up to give us a background on the why of fall foliage and the where to find it locally.

In case you don’t have time to watch the full video (below) – here’s a short recap of what Alex and Will covered:

Why Do Leaves Change?

One misconception is that the changing temperature starts the process of leaves turning every year.  Instead, it’s actually the amount of daylight that signals to the trees that it’s time to conserve energy. “There’s a magic period that happens when the night becomes long enough and it starts initiating the changing in the leaves” said Alex.

Tree Related Puns Ensue

One way to think of it is that: “The trees bring on leaves as seasonal help” explained Alex, “and at the end of the summer they put them on a leaf of absence.”  “They get laid off” added Will.

Why do some areas have stronger colors than others?

When trying to figure out where to hiking for the best foliage, it’s good to understand why the foliage shifts in certain locations so you can plan accordingly. A few factors to take into consideration are:

  • The types of trees in the area you’re visiting. For example, much of New England has a less diverse forest than New York so their autumns are bright and intense whereas in the Catskills we have more types of trees which change at different periods of time, extending the season.
  • Though temperature may not start the leaves changing, it does indeed influence it. The colder it gets, the more the trees are convinced to save energy, thereby speeding up the process.
  • Elevation plays an important role, not only in often being colder sooner but in the higher chance of winds which could take the leaves off the trees faster.

The Favorite Hike

Will and Alex have hiked all over the Catskills. In fact, they’ve summited every peak in both winter and summer. One of their absolute favorite hikes is in the Northern Catskills (accessible by Trailways and a short uber ride): Twin Mountains. Twin Mountains can be accessed via Roaring Kill Parking Lot and includes over 1640ft in elevation gain and sections on the infamous Devil’s Path so it’s not for the faint of heart. Not only does the trail offer views of a beaver dam, waterfalls and a quarry but also a diverse forest of trees (myriad colors) and impressive views which can reach all the way to New Jersey or even the Berkshires on a clear day.

Watch the video for more info on their favorite hikes!

A word of warning

Remember: with fall comes shorter days while fallen leaves (or weather) can slow down your pace. Skip brunch and leave plenty of time to finish your hike before the sun goes down.



Thank you to Columbia Sportswear for sponsoring this event, Will & Alex for sharing their knowledge and Sierra Nevada and Munk Pack for providing the nourishment. Until next time.

September Mappy Hour NYC, Presented By:

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