Fall Foliage in New Jersey

Living In Color

In a good year, on the right day, a wide variety of tree species, such as these in Stoke Forest, provides an extraordinary fall foliage bloom.

The annual fall foliage bloom is dependent primarily on moisture and the first frost, but peak leaf viewing in Northwest New Jersey normally occurs somewhere around the first full week of October. The quality of a year's peak varies for several reasons. Some years, because of dry weather, the swamp maples, ash and other shallow rooted trees turn early in spite of warm temperatures. They are already fading when the deep-rooted, dominant hickories and oaks begin to develop warm, rustic hues as a result of a frost several weeks later. Sometimes the change spreads out over a month, and we miss those special few days when everything happens at once. Even when conditions are "perfect," lack of sunlight can subdue the effect. Then a big storm comes along and blows the vulnerable leaves to the forest floor. Actually, the brilliant hues that show up in autumn foliage are always there- in the sugars and trace minerals that the trees pull up from the ground. A leaf changes its visible color when the chlorophyll- the green stuff that transforms sunlight into the complex sugars that nourish the tree- stops doing its job, recedes and allows the underlying hues to show through. The best color is achieved in a year with sufficient rain and a hard first frost for a few days that kills the connection between the leaf and the tree abruptly, trapping the sugars and minerals in the leaf. Then if it warms up again to allow the colors to develop, we've got a memorable season.

Monksville Reservoir, Passaic County.Photo by Dotty Waxman.

Foliage in the Skylands is different than that of New England because of our wide variety of trees. New England forests are dominated by sugar maple, which, dependent only on the first frost, provides a vivid and consistent foliage bloom, but one that is always the same. When we hit a good year, the deep hues of oak and hickory, a pinpoint splash of scarlet oak, the mahogany color of ash, the brilliant yellows from tall, fast-growing tulip poplar, the golden leaf of the black hickory and the splendid glow from several varieties of maple, combine to produce an effect that is more spectacular. It is not, however, an immutable annual occasion in which all these species and factors act in perfect concert. There is nothing quite so stirring as an expanse of forest at the peak of its foliage color change. The Interstates take you quickly through a wide variety of terrain and, therefore, color.

Take any loop north or south on a county road and you'll find a radiant maple standing solitary in a farmer's field. Or get up high on a ridge- or even a hot air balloon- and look over breathtaking vistas you'll remember for a long time. Some years are better than others. Some years are the best you'll find anywhere.

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18 Sep 2016, 20:27
I grew up in Hunterdon County but moved to Hawaii after I graduated high school and now I'm in Japan (the land of concrete). I really miss New Jersey! The Skylands are so beautiful. My dream is to come back and enjoy the autumn colors there one more time in my life.
Keith Fauci
30 Sep 2015, 18:00
Anyone from Northern New Jersey that can tell me how
The season is progressing. Today is the first day of October and I am heading up there in nine days. I hope the coming hurricane doesn't decimate the area
10 Jul 2015, 05:18
I miss my home state of 'Jersey' where I was raised from the age of 2. I moved to Florida upon retirement and regret every day. I miss the change of seasons and the beautiful foliage in mid to late October. I miss the lakes, the hiking trails and especially the 'shore'. I hope one day soon to return to my home state and experience the beauty it offers.
25 Oct 2013, 08:34
looking for a nice foliage olace to take photos..
charlie r
12 Oct 2013, 12:01
I grew up in Ringwood -was born in Hackensack but moved in 1960 after Dad built our house in Cupsaw lake -now after living in Jersey most of my life live in the South Carolina low country --the autumns were always beautiful ,especially the end of oct to first 10 days in nov. when we had Indian summer always miss those fall days
18 Oct 2012, 14:42
I also regret having moved from NJ to FL. I miss all the seasons, especially the Autumn. I moved to Fl to please other people and I'm currently in Fl (24 yrs now)because of the same reason. \r\nMemories of my 25 years in NJ sometimes overwhelm me. Hopefully, some day soon I'll move back. There is so much to see and do in NJ. I was born in another country but to me NJ is and will always be my hometown.
11 Oct 2012, 12:18
They say the best time in Sussex fall foliage is mid to end Oct.Coming weekend is probably a pretty good bet.
11 Oct 2012, 12:15
The Walpack Inn in Wallpack is an oustanding place to enjoy the fall foliage and great food.There are many back roads to travel in the area along the Delaware river.
14 Oct 2011, 04:25
come take a ride around a small and very beautiful lake in our nw corner in warren county. we are mountain lake , between hackettstown and belvidere. park at the jenny jump state forest parking space and walk the 2 1/2 miles around our beautiful lake. we welcome visitors and now is the perfect time because our leaves are spectacular !
11 Oct 2011, 14:33
11 Oct 2011, 11:53
I live at the Jersey Shore, and am interesting in taking a trip to see some great foliage. I'm having a hard time really narrowing down where/when we should go. Is there a specific park, or place anyone can suggest near Skylands?
Avery G. Fischer
11 Oct 2011, 08:12
I presently live in South Florida but I was born and raised in Northern New Jersey (Jersey as we call it). I left some 20 years ago and regret it. I miss the seasons especially the fall. I still own a home in Stockholm where we see the full moons and foliage. In spite of raking the leaves I can only hope I return soon to enjoy what I miss dearly.
08 Oct 2011, 06:53
I'm aware there are folks that hate New Jersey; they don't know what they're missing. On a personal note, I have "discovered" wonderful treasures and little gems of beauty in NJ, and wouldn't leave this state because of them! I always find real solace and joy in the Chester area of Morris County (which is a thirty-minute drive from my home), especially when autumn arrives: following the meandering Black River while traversing the winding Black River Road through Pottersville up to Hacklebarney State Park; savoring a delicious pumpkin cider donut with some fresh-pressed apple cider at Hacklebarney Farm; biting into a crisp Mutsu apple and pickin' aplenty at Riamede Farm while enjoying the colorful vista; driving into Long Valley and stopping at Ort Farms; picking up a fresh bunch of broccoli at Mr. Bond's broccoli patch in Middle Valley; reclining on one of my favorite benches in the Leonard J. Buck Garden and gazing up at the marvelous layers of colorful leaves while some slowly make their way to the ground like a feather; hiking on the trails at the Great Swamp Environmental Center--all this while savoring the vivid beauty of what NJ residents have been blessed with--in any season, especially autumn!
29 Sep 2011, 17:52
I'm planning an outdoor wedding on 11-6, in west milford..do you think there will still be colored leaves on the trees? or will they have falled to the ground??
05 Nov 2010, 09:50
Where is the parking lot on Upper hibernia Road?? Going to splitrock tomorrow.\r\n
25 Oct 2010, 19:05
thank u lynn for your suggestion to go to Splitrock. We went on Sun 24th Oct and i guess we got to see the best fall colors there... the foliage shd persist for the next week as well. Took the upper hibernia rd to reach the parking lot and took the HawkWatch trail.. very easy trail. purposefully took diversion to explore wilderness and still made it to the cable television tower. the view there is beautiful and real bird-watchers had gathered there to spot hawk, coopers and turkey vultures.. on the way back took the split rock rd and went to split rock reservoir.. amazing fall colors.. parking lot was almost full.. will go next time with a boat.. am sure there are some nice bass and pickeral in the waters..
21 Oct 2010, 10:38
Try Split Rock Reservoir in Rockaway, NJ. It is just beautiful, and a great place to hike and take pictures. If you have a kayak or canoe to paddle around... it is just stunning!
18 Oct 2010, 11:16
My apologies. I wanted fall foliage info specific to Monksville Reservoir. If anybody has suggestions, they are welcome. Thanks again.
18 Oct 2010, 11:14
Can anyone give me an update on the state of the fall foliage at this time? I just want to go for a photoshoot. Thank you for your help.
15 Oct 2010, 14:27
Wrong about the temperature... the reason leaves change color is the shortened day causes them to stop producing chlorophyll.\r\n\r\nThe INTENSITY of colors is related to the moisture context of the trees themselves. It very little to do with the temp. This is why certain deciduous here in Florida are changing color now as well.. and baby - it is still warm here:)\r\n\r\nIf temp has any influence at all it is that in some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool nights of autumn cause the leaves turn this glucose into a red color. So for these trees, the appearance of color can be related slightly to temp, but not much.
12 Sep 2010, 04:19
Will guys put a lid on the global warming and toxin talk...jeeze.."Debbie Downers" on an otherwise nice page.
Skylands Visitor
05 Nov 2009, 15:39
Jeff,\r\nPerhaps it is not clear, but this website concentrates on Northwest New Jersey. This story describes foliage trends in general and is not intended to be this year's statewide foliage watch. It also points to several more stories describing specific ideas for foliage tours. As the article points out, most of the questions you refer to are really unanswerable unless you have a roving leaf watcher, which we certainly cannot afford. We were hoping that more of these comments would suggest prime leaf peeping experiences for the rest of us.\r\n\r\nI don't know where in South Jersey you're looking, but "peak" moves around according to how high the elevation is, what kind of trees grow in the neighborhood, how cold it was two nights ago, how windy its been lately, etc. But, I'm sure you would enjoy a ride this weekend. You might find a more comprehensive state-wide guide at visitnj.org.
05 Nov 2009, 10:19
Unfortunately, tree lovers, there are now enough toxins in our atmosphere from fossil and biofuel emissions that the vegetation in New Jersey and many other states is being damaged. Ozone and peroxyacetyl nitrates interfere with the leave's ability to photosynthesize and produce chlorophyll.\r\n\r\nThe cumulative and extreme episodic effects are enough to send the trees into terminal decline. If we want to preserve our trees and ecosystem, we need to switch to clean energy like, yesterday!\r\n\r\nphotos and links to scientific research at www.witsendnj.blogspot.com. WWF climate witness page here: http://www.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/problems/people_at_risk/person al_stories/witness_stories/?179041
Jeff Gray
05 Nov 2009, 00:25
Is someone who manages this page supposed to answer the many excellent questions here? Otherwise, why bother? I too would like to know about South Jersey--when in 2009 the areas peak & whether there's still a chance now, Nov. 5.\r\nThanks-
26 Oct 2009, 05:27
I keep searching for websites that have information about South Jersey, even putting specific towns in my search, like Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Medford, etc... and your site keeps popping up. But I don't see any information about these towns. Did you include all these towns in your html? If so, you should have information for them! New Jersey is a BIG state!
Joan Alexander
25 Oct 2009, 18:25
Looking for scenic Fall foliageareas and trails in northern NJ and or Westchester NY areas)Oct 26, 2009
24 Oct 2009, 20:09
I would like to take a train from Manhattan around Nov 5 to a country town with great foliage. Any suggestions?\r\nThanks!
Angel Valdez
15 Oct 2009, 08:49
What is the best sight as far as foliage is concerned in New Jersey.\r\nRegion and possible directions.\r\nThanks
Judith O'Keefe
14 Oct 2009, 08:16
Looking for great foliage in Somerset County, NJ and also Ocean County, NJ. I remember that the Far Hills, Peapack Gladstone areas were wonderful and would like to know which date would be best.
12 Oct 2009, 15:58
I was down to the Allentown,NJ Fall Festival this past Sun. and the colors there were beautiful! Howell and Homdel were also lovely... The leaves are really changing fast. Northern NJ seems to be at its peak now. Central and Southern NJ will follow shortly. Any trip on side roads should bring lovely sights and good photo shots.
29 Oct 2008, 16:46
Any ideas for good foliage areas in NJ along rt 78 this week
18 Oct 2008, 12:03
I drive to Connecticut every week for work and this week i saw the most gorgeous fall foliage ever. It warmed my soul & touched my heart, boy! what a show of colors i must say.\r\n\r\nAll this i saw while cruising on I95N between exists 30 & 60. Simply fabulous.
Dave Lasky
18 Oct 2008, 11:49
Since the global warming, imagined or not, the leaves have been changing later and later in the season for New Jersey. I have lived in New Jersey since 1970. The leaves change up northern Jersey first, due to elevation and it gets cooler there first. Then middle and southern New Jersey. It used to start first week of October and spread south the whole month. Now, the third week of October seems to be the norm for peak colors in northern New Jersey now, and spreads south from there. Of course moisture plays a part and it has been dry here.I beleive that dulls some colors. Hope this helps a little. e-mail me and i'll try and help with info davelasky@comcast.net .
17 Oct 2008, 03:12
I will be in Atlantic City the 20th to the 23rd for a conference and have limited time. Any suggestions in the close proximity for photographing fall color?
16 Oct 2008, 18:42
I agree that the Old Mine Road is great. While in the area, check out Sunfish Pond, Tillman Ravine, and Buttermilk Falls.
thomas kirse
15 Oct 2008, 07:54
try old mine road, near worthington state forrest
14 Oct 2008, 18:11
My wife and I just returned from a visit to Wawayanda S.P. The lake was absolutely stunning with the foliage at its peak! (Mon, Oct. 13)
14 Oct 2008, 15:49
The best place to see Fall Foliage in NJ is High Point State Park.. It is absolutely stunning... Next weekend will be the best weekend for foliage viewers...
12 Oct 2008, 10:19
For paddling, Cedar Creek (Ocean County) is hard to beat. From the Ore Pond down to Rt. 9 is beautiful any time of year, even winter!
10 Oct 2008, 16:25
Last year was very unusual due to the extreme warmth we had in late sept and early october so it pushed peak foliage back by at least 2 weeks. I can say today on a visit to Hunterdon county that there was quite a bit of color already. I'd say next weekend will be peaking out there and probably the weekend after in the northeastern and central parts of the state
Irv Beckman
09 Oct 2008, 13:29
What is a good area near Mahwah, this week-end?
08 Oct 2008, 09:36
Try this link: http://www.foliagenetwork.net/. \r\n\r\nI just found it when trying to figure out where to go take some photos this weekend. \r\n\r\nGood luck!
04 Oct 2008, 10:18
I have been to the Princeton New Jersey area in Oct. for the past 3 years. While there have been some pretty colors, it was not the best area to see fall colors. We were there mid Oct all 3 times. My daughter said she traveled further north and it was much better. She said that the week following our visit (late Oct) the colors were better for a day or two, and then they had a storm and it blew most of the leaves off the trees. I think if you traveled farther north into Pennsylvania in mid Oct. you would get more color.
22 Sep 2008, 07:32
Looking for someone to hang out with during my color foliage trip while I am staying with another couple. Someone in his 50's to join me and my 2 friends to see the sights and have coffee, or dinner, share events, find Karaoke( I'll pay my own way) during Oct. 18-25th or so. Email me if you are availble and not a perv. :-)\r\nD
Drew Mom
19 Sep 2008, 10:08
I'd like to know as well! I've been looking at the wunderground.com photos for Madison area, hoping to see some fall color creeping in. We're headed to Madison in two weeks for parents weekend and can't wait to experience cooler weather, pretty leaves would be a plus!
18 Sep 2008, 08:46
When will the leaves be at their best this year in New Jersey?
14 Sep 2008, 06:25
I have the same question! Are their answer's posted somewhere and I'm missing it? \r\n\r\nWhen do you think we can expect the peak fall season to be this year in south Jersey?\r\n\r\nThank you!\r\n
09 Aug 2008, 12:48
When do you think the peak fall season in southern new jersey will be this year? Looking to do some kayaking with friends & family this fall. Any ideas to river kayaking (we have our own) Thank you! Karen
Robin from England
27 Jul 2008, 13:56
We can't get over to the USA until late October. What chance we'll be able to see any leaf colors in NJ? And how far south does the "show2 spread?\r\nBest
30 Jun 2008, 17:42
Hello,\r\n\r\nWhen do you think is the fall season in New Jersey this year 2008?\r\n\r\nRegards,\r\nSam
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