It looks like an early fall

Baker Mountain trail in Saranac Lake.
Leaves cover the trail on Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake. Photo by Phil Brown.

As I often do, I climbed Baker Mountain on my lunch hour today and was surprised by the amount of leaves that already have come down. As you can see from the photo above, the trail was covered in places.

It struck me as a little early to see so many leaves on the ground. Did they die early because of the dry summer?

View from the summit of Baker Mountain in Saranac Lake
Changing colors on Baker’s summit.

I did a little Googling and discovered—no surprise—that I am not the first to ask that question or to wonder how the summer drought might affect coloration of the foliage this fall.

It appears the leaves are turning color earlier than usual. WKTV, a Utica television station, reported a few weeks ago that the leaves were already changing in Old Forge. Also, in an article on the AccuWeather website, a writer says drought during the growing season can cause leaves to fall early.

Whether it will be a colorful or drab autumn will depend in large part on the weather leading up to the peak of the foliage season. However, a professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry thinks the signs are pointing toward lots of color.

“Right now, without knowing what’s going to happen in the middle of October when the fall colors start to peak regionally, it looks like it’s going to be a good year for fall colors,” Donald J. Leopold, a dendrologist at ESF, told Science Daily in late August.

Let’s hope he’s right.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Paul says

    When I was younger it always seemed like the peak of colors in the Saranac Lake area was around the last week in September maybe the first week in October. Now that seems more like Columbus day weekend.

    I have also see lots of brown leaves that have fallen in other parts of the state. I bet it is due to the stressful conditions for the plants this summer.

    Your photos don’t seem to indicate much color change in the canopy. Is that what it looks like in the woods?

    I will not be able to check this for myself till Saturday morning when I wake at my camp!!

  2. Phil says

    No, there isn’t a lot of color change yet, but I was struck by the number of leaves already fallen. Perhaps they were blown off in the recent windstorm.

  3. Mark says

    There can be many things at play to cause trees to drop their leaves early. I live in western NY state where a lot of Maple trees are affected by the Tar Spot (Rhytisma Acerinum) fungus. Leaves have been dropping of these trees since mid July.

  4. Marco says

    Just got back from 10 days up there. A real nice trip, but colors seem a bit subdued this year. We usually manage three trips in the fall, so this isn’t quite the spectacular colors the wife and I have seen in the past. The Maples are more silvery red than deep red and the elms are not turned hardly at all. The recent winds (30-40mph gusts) have knocked down those that have changed, so they are not staying well either. The Old Forge Area is getting close to peak but the High Peaks Area is still fairly green with one or two trees changing, but not fully, yet.

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