Each September New Brunswick’s landscape goes into fall party mode. A riot of colour celebrates the changing seasons and it’s pretty spectacular. If you’ve never seen it, imagine Mother Nature taking all the fire colours from a crayon box and going wild on the treetops, the sand dunes, the farmers’ fields... but leaving just enough evergreen to really make things pop.
If you’re planning to visit us this fall for a leaf-peeping trip, remember one thing: it’s all about timing.
Late September and early October tend to showcase the best colours, but the timing will vary by region. There’s a north/south variation, with the northern areas (Appalachian Mountains, upper Saint John River valley, Miramichi region) producing colour one to two weeks before the south (Bay of Fundy, lower Saint John River valley, parts of the Acadian coast).
The colour is also affected by variations in topography and tree species growing in valleys, mid-slope and ridge tops. At other times of the year these are usually subtle differences, but come fall they make a veritable ice cream sundae of colour.
To understand how this explosion of colour happens, let’s put on our science hat for a sec...
New Brunswick is primarily located in the Acadian Forest Region, which fosters a blend of boreal (predominantly softwood) and deciduous (predominantly hardwood) forests. Together these make for one heck of a show. One of the most vibrant is the sugar maple, which grows abundantly in maple syrup producing regions like Saint-Quentin, Atlantic Canada’s maple capital.
During the growing season, chlorophyll is continually being produced and synthesized, which causes the leaves to remain green. As summer turns to fall, night length increases, which causes chlorophyll production to slow down and eventually stop altogether. The carotenoids and anthocyanins that are present in the leaf are then unmasked... and voilà! There’s your colour.
To see some serious fall foliage, follow these 5 scenic drives:
Appalachian Mountain Region
Colours will start to form in the mountainous Appalachian region earliest, around the second week of September. Peak colour is also going to hit here first - usually around the last week of September.
Saint John River Valley
The brightest colours will emerge on the upper portion of the Saint John River valley not long after the Appalachian region. Peak colours typically occur around the first weekend of October. The southern river valley - closer to the Bay of Fundy - is going to peak a bit later, around a week or so.
Miramichi River Region
Similar to the upper Saint John River valley, colours begin to emerge in mid-September, with the brightest colours typically hitting around the first week of October.
This region offers a unique fall colour experience due to the blanket of peat bogs on Miscou Island. Their scarlet colour emerges early to mid-October and lasts through the month. The seagrasses and coastal flora on the rest of the drive begin to turn golden in late September, getting continually darker into the fall.
Bay of Fundy
Pulling up the rear on fall colour is the Bay of Fundy region. It’s going to start to show colour latest - peaking around Thanksgiving weekend - but it makes up for the late arrival with a gorgeous rainbow of colour.
🍂 WHERE TO GO 🍂
If you capture some awesome fall photos in New Brunswick, tag them #ExploreNB to share.