Fall in Franconia Notch

Back in May, before I had moved to Franconia Notch State Park to be an Interpretive Ranger with Monica Casey (my fellow interpreter), the two of us rented a movie from the local library about the park. We were excited to learn more about where we would be spending the upcoming months. This video, similar to the ones that play in the Flume Visitor Center and occasionally in the Tram building, had a clear theme: Franconia Notch State Park is always changing. This message is illustrated mainly by the fall of the Old Man of the Mountain and other natural events that have changed this landscape over time. The point is to appreciate these amazing features of while they are still here, because this is a constantly changing environment. I have been in Franconia Notch for just over three months now and agree that this place is always changing. However, this does not apply solely to permanent and drastic changes in the landscape. Even just in the short period that I have been here, the park has undergone what seems like a complete makeover.

The first splashes of color around the Hiker Information Cabin
The first splashes of color around the Hiker Information Cabin

New England is know for it’s fall foliage, and I have been patiently awaiting this season since arriving in New Hampshire back in January. Over the past few weeks, the colors have been emerging, bringing splashes of yellows, oranges, and reds to our previously green leaves. These colors, along with the chilly weather and shorter days, signal that it is officially autumn here in the White Mountains.

Back when I arrived in the park in June, the park had it summer colors in full bloom; the vivid greens of the leaves, and the variety of hues from the summer wildflowers. Lupines and Orange Hawkweed, among many others, brought bright colors to the summer months. Those warm months seemed to fly by, and before I knew it, many of the wildflowers were on their way out. The passing of the wildflowers didn’t upset me too much, though, because the park quickly showed me that it had more to offer. Late summer brought us plenty of treats such as blueberries and blackberries, along with some late blooming flowers such as asters.

Hobblebush- one of the first plants to turn color
Hobblebush- one of the first plants to turn color

I cannot believe that the much anticipated autumn months, my favorite of the year, are already here.  Fall only just officially began on September 23rd, but I have been seeing the signs since late August. The hobblebush was the first thing that I noticed started to change from green to red, and the other trees are now following its lead. The ragweed is in bloom, adding a splash of yellow to the lower levels, and the asters can still be found as well. Driving up the Franconia Parkway is now a very different experience; Mount Pemigewasset, for one, can be seen showing off it’s autumn color. More and more trees seems to be changing everyday.

Fall colors emerging on Mt. Pemigewasset (Indian Head)

The wildlife of Franconia Notch has been undergoing its own changes during this time. Bears are consuming a great amount of calories to prepare themselves for their upcoming hibernation, certain birds are preparing to fly south for the winter, and moose are in the midst of the rut.

While, for the most part, children are back at school and not around as much during the week, the weekend still brings many families to the campground to enjoy the fall weather and colors.  I, for one, have been enjoying the cooler weather, which I think is ideal for hiking and bike rides. I also enjoyed the simple pleasure of wandering the park with my camera, looking for some of the best areas of foliage to photograph and share with you all in this blog.

Signs of Autumn along FNSP's bike trail!
Signs of Autumn along FNSP’s bike trail!

That video that I watched all those months ago was right, Franconia Notch is always changing. Everyone should appreciate this unique landscape every time you are here, because you never know when it may be different.  And also, appreciate the little things like the changes in the season. The park is a different place in each season of the year, with different types of beauty to offer. Everyone has a season that seems to be their favorite, however, that does not mean that the other seasons don’t have their own special personality to offer as well.

View from Mount Pemigewasset in July & September
View from Mount Pemigewasset in July & September

By: Becki Linhart, Interpretive Ranger in Franconia Notch State Park


Discover Power of Parks SCA Interpreters

Discover the Power of Parks is presented by New Hampshire State Parks in collaboration with the Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps and made possible by generous financial support from Eversource. The program offers a look into the natural world through hands-on programming. Interpretive programs focus on connecting participants with nature and building appreciation for New Hampshire's unmatched natural heritage. Programs include guided hikes, interpretive tours, and imaginative environmental workshops for children and families. Programs are offered free to guests with paid park admission fee. No pre-registration is required.

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