Fall is one of our favorite times of the year (other than winter of course).  The mountains ignite with magnificent reds from the mighty oak trees and take-your-breath-away yellows from aspen and birches. There is truly no better way to experience the Adirondack foliage than with a scenic skyride at Gore Mountain. Our open-air chairlift delivers you to the mid-mountain Saddle Lodge area and the enclosed gondola gives you immediate access to the Bear Mountain summit- two of the best foliage vistas of the Southern Adirondacks and High Peaks. Let us help you take advantage of this special and fleeting spectacle; follow this leaf-peeping guide so you can perfectly plan your trip to see the best of what fall has to offer.

Colorful fallen leaf collecting dew
Colorful fallen leaf collecting dew

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

The purples, reds, oranges, and yellows that appear in leaves are the result of chemical processes that happen in the trees as temperatures begin to dip. During the summer, the trees are making food for themselves resulting in chlorophyll that makes their leaf colors green. They absorb sunlight and transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and sugar then store it for the long winter ahead. In the fall, the trees stop this process due to less daylight and cooler temperatures, so the chlorophyll starts to break down within the leaf. As the chlorophyll starts to disappear, the other colors start to emerge- different kinds of trees will give off different colors during their change. This is a result of different chemicals and pigments within the leaf.

The base area during fall

Weather Can Affect The Color

Temperatures, amount of sunlight, and water supply all affect the outcome of foliage with its degree of color and duration. With low temperatures, you may get brighter reds in maples while an unfortunate early frost will weaken the brightness of reds. Rainy and overcast days will increase the intensity of the colors. The best weather for viewing foliage is on a clear, dry, and slightly cool day.

Scenic view from a gondola skyride

What Color Does Each Tree Display?

  • Northern Red Oak: Dark red or reddish-brown
  • Sugar Maple: Red in the sun, yellow in the shade, and they may change as often as hourly from yellow to red to orange
  • Birch: Golden yellow to warm autumn hues of orange, bronze, and red
  • Mountain Ash: Ranges from green to yellow, red, or reddish-purple
  • Black Cherry: Gold, red, or orange
  • Iron Wood: Dark yellow and often stay on the tree until winter
  • American Beech: Bronze or yellow, or they may remain green before shedding
  • Quaking Aspen: Golden yellow
  • Striped Maple: Canary yellow
  • Basswood: Green or chartreuse, but may be yellow or golden yellow
Looking out from the North Quad in the fall

More on Leaf Color

  • Carotene, which turns leaves orange, is also the chemical that makes carrots orange.
  • Anthocyanins, which turn leaves red, are also found in blueberries and deep purple fruits like grapes.
  • Carotenoids, the chemical that produces orange and yellow foliage, are always present in leaves. However, they are masked by green chlorophyll until its production is stopped.
Gondola views on a bright fall day

Best Time to View Adirondack Fall Foliage

The best foliage at Gore Mountain tends to be from mid-September to early October. Plan to visit us any weekend right up until October 9 & 10 which is our last weekend of the summer/fall activity season and the final meeting of the Mountain Master Craft Series for 2021.  See the mountain painted in incredible colors, and visit our slopeside market featuring authentic handmade items from Adirondack artisans and crafters.

Scenic view from inside the Saddle Lodge

Best Views on the Mountain

We suggest taking a scenic skyride to get right to the good stuff! From the top of either skyride, head to one of these locations for the best places to take in the beauty of fall. Don’t forget your camera!

  • The Fairview Deck:  The top of Bear Mountain offers incredible views of Gore’s true summit and other peaks in the north. Take a short walk to the Topridge and Foxlair trails for southern mountain views.
  • The Saddle Lodge: Marvel at the beauty of the High Peaks from the comfort of the Saddle Lodge where large windows frame the distant peaks perfectly.
  • Gore’s Summit: Take a challenging hike up the 1.2-mile Cloud Trail to get higher vistas; we promise it’s worth the trek. From the Cloud Trail, you’ll see the High Peaks. Gaze out the Straight Brook Valley from the headwall of Lies. The top of Rumor shows off a great view of Bear Mountain and the gondola unloading area. Over by Hawkeye and Chatiemac, you’ll see pretty south-facing vistas.
  • Windy Hill: Just as challenging as our Cloud Trail, the hike up Windy Hill from the Saddle Lodge looks out at Pete Gay Mountain with stunning vantages to the north and east.
  • Twister Cliffs: This intermediate hike from the Saddle Lodge area offers great views of our lower-mountain ski trails and other peaks to the south and east. You can see the Northwoods Gondola and Adirondack Express in action too.

Check out I Love NY’s Foliage Report HERE to stay up to date on fall colors in New York State!

See all of our hiking trails here. Read our Trees of Gore Blog Post to learn more about what makes them unique.