Turning of leaves brightens local tourism industry

The leaves are starting to change color, and that’s good not only for people who enjoy the scenery, but the local businesses that benefit from tourists.

“Leaf peeping is a key part of local tourism starting around now because we are in the Adirondack Park and a lot of people like to take drives up into the Adirondacks to look at leaves, and when they do that, they stop at restaurants and stores for shopping and farmers markets and things like that,”?said Gina DaBiere-Gibbs, the tourism director for the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce.

New?York state released the first of its weekly “Fall Color Reports” Wednesday, a detailed look at the rate at which upstate New York’s foliage is changing from the vibrant greens of summer to the brilliant hues of autumn.

The Empire State Development Division of Tourism posts the color report on the iloveny.com website. The website includes a guide to spotting different kinds of leaves and where the best spots are to leaf peep. The Color Report is compiled by field observers throughout the state.

DaBiere-Gibbs coordinates the local field observers for the I Love New York tourism program. She said by this weekend, 25 percent of the leaves in the Fulton County area are expected to have begun changing colors. The brilliance level is expected to be dull with the predominant colors being green with gold, with touches of red and brown.

DaBiere-Gibbs said the peak of the fall foliage season locally is typically Columbus Day weekend, but the start of the season is definitely now.

Joyce Teshoney, owner of the Adirondack Country Store in Northville, said she’s already begun to see leaf peepers from out of the area passing through her store.

“We get a lot of people who come up just for a day drive and want to visit Northville really as a destination,”?she said. “The fall season isn’t quite as big as the summer season, but it is still quite busy. We see people really beginning their holiday shopping around now and we feature products aimed at that. We also have a fall festival that we do Columbus Day weekend and usually have a local artist.”

Ann Hirvonen, the owner and operator of Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center in Northville, said people often will come to stay at one of her 10 cottages just for a night or a weekend, just to enjoy the foliage.

“It’s people who are looking to enjoy nature and everything the fall season has to offer, from colors to local farmers markets, local activities and events,” she said. “The Capital Region is a big draw for us, New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and even people locally from Johnstown and Gloversville who are looking to get a world away from home without a lot of effort.”?

Hirvonen said some of the colorful trees on her property include birches and the?”fat, brilliant leaves on the maples,” as well as swamp maples that already have begun to turn a muted red.

“They give us that presence of red on the lake, and it’s very pretty and very subtle,” she said.

DaBiere-Gibbs said a poll of the visitors at the chamber’s tourism center in Broadalbin ranked the top scenic drives in the area as follows:

No. 1: Route 29A going west to Route 10 and north through the Caroga Lake-Pine Lake area into the town of Stratford.

No. 2: Route 30 going north through Northville and then around the Great Sacandaga Lake south down?Lakeview Road through the town of Broadalbin.

No. 3: Route 334 running south through Sammonsville.

The chamber features fall foliage in some of its downstate and out-of-state media advertising for local tourism.