The Buzz

Anxiously awaiting fall color? This interactive map will guide you

A trail lined with leaves changing to shades of yellow and orange.
O'Hara Woods Preserve. (Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock)

Even though the weather forecast has been reading more summerlike than fall lately, every year around this time we begin to eagerly anticipate the arrival of fall color, which can be quite spectacular around the county. But when exactly those yellow, orange, red and purple hues begin to creep in depends on a variety of factors, including temperatures and precipitation.

The leaves change color each autumn because the days get shorter. When there is less sunlight, the leaves cannot make as much chlorophyll, the pigment that makes leaves green. Without the chlorophyll to make them green, other pigments in the leaves are expressed, creating the vivid display of fall color we look forward to each year. And although we know without a doubt that the leaves will change color each fall, the timing is not always the same from year to year. 

While we can use our own knowledge to make some local predictions about the timing, the folks behind this Smoky Mountains website have come up with a national forecast map to give us a good idea of when we can expect the dazzling display to begin. They've used a variety of data, including historical temperatures, rainfall and past leaf trends to come up with the 2023 Fall Foliage Prediction Map.

With the intent of helping people plan their outdoor excursions, the prediction map charts out the estimated changes each week from now through the end of November. Locally, it's sugar maple, ash, oak and hickory trees that put on a show in the preserves.

As of now, the forecast calls for patchy fall color to start popping in Will County the week of Sept. 25, with peak color hitting the week of Oct. 23. Get out there and enjoy it while you can, because the peak period will be brief, with Will County moving past its peak period by the week of Oct. 30, according to the map.



If the predictions hold true, October will be a great time to soak in the views at any of the Forest Preserve District's hiking programs, which can be found on our event calendar. Do you prefer to explore on your own? Participate in our Woods Walk hiking challenge, where you can view some wonderful scenery while hiking the designated trails. You can even turn your leaf-peeping outing into a workout with our Harvest Hustle Virtual 5K



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