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Colors near peak in the mountains

A DISPLAY OF foliage in 2017 below the summit of Mt. Abraham in Lincoln demonstrates the beautiful fall scenery that is available in the Green Mountain National Forest. Photo courtesy of Ethan Ready

RUTLAND — With shorter days and cooler nighttime temperatures, fall has arrived, ushering in one of nature’s most magnificent seasons. In Vermont, on the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF), fall colors are expected to be most vibrant during the next couple of weeks in the higher elevations, GMNF officials said this week.

“This is a special time for our residents, our visitors and our forest. We have already seen a lot of vibrant color in the higher elevations and expect that leaves will be near peak in some of the higher elevations this weekend and next,” said John Sinclair, forest supervisor for the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests. Sinclair also expects that there will be an influx of local and visitor traffic in the coming weeks and is encouraging motorists to be mindful of where they park and to use extra caution when driving and recreating on the Forest.

The GMNF is one of the national forests in the nation that gets a heavier number of visitors in the fall, serving between 3 million and 4 million visitors per year. Located within less than a day’s drive of more than 70 million people, the GMNF serves a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts — each contributing significantly to our local communities and the overall economy.

In addition to foliage viewing, other fall recreational activities on the forest include camping, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking. Like many tourist destinations, the GMNF is a major contributor to local economies and has been recognized as having some of the nation’s most brilliant foliage viewsheds. The New England area alone receives an estimated $8 billion annually in local revenues from fall visitors, who come from all over the world to see stunning mountainsides bathed in brilliant reds and oranges, mixed with stately evergreens.

Beginning each September, the U.S. Forest Service tracks the progress of fall color and is once again offering the public a peak into how the foliage season is progressing. See the map online at smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map (despite the web address, it does include Vermont). Another website that can be visited gives foliage updates, scenic hotspots, and routes to take for peak viewing of fall colors on national forests across the region; it is online at tinyurl.com/USFSfallcolors.

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