10 Northeast Trees with the Best Fall Colors

Fall is the time for enjoying a tall glass of apple cider, taking a scenic hayride to look for pumpkins, and, of course, crunching through a growing pile of fallen leaves. While most of the Northeast boasts beautiful colors throughout the year, some trees stand out more than others. Here are a few vibrant species you should keep an eye out for this autumn.

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Beech

This species produces wide-spreading branches that extend from short trunks and generally stretch far lower than those from adjacent trees. In fall, they produce pale yellow leaves that sit comparably closer to the ground.

American Hornbeam

Carpinus caroliniana is technically a large shrub, although most consider it a small deciduous tree. Its multi-stemmed body produces simple leaves that turn red, orange, or yellow in the fall. You can find it as far north as some portions of Maine, and as far south as the northernmost tip of Florida.

Quaking Aspen

Commonly known as white poplar, Quaking Aspen is distinguished by its fan-like leaves, which grow in clusters of approximately five. Despite the confusing name—and the fact that it is technically part of the poplar family—it often behaves more like a willow, as its leaves dance even under the slightest breeze. During fall, the tree produces yellow leaves that drop easily when touched.

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American Sycamore

This tree grows rapidly, expanding outward from a short, stocky trunk to produce branches that stretch toward the ground and lobed, alternate leaves that turn a yellow-orange in fall. The American Sycamore is a native plant inhabiting the Northeast’s southern portions, such as southern New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania.

Black Cherry

This simple tree has an equally simple leaf that turns a splotchy red or yellow in the fall. Prunus serotina is found throughout just about all portions of the Northeast and even extends into parts of southern Canada.

Black Walnut

In summer and fall, the Black Walnut produces crunchy fruits, many of which are considered highly valuable by candy producers. Their wood is just as valued, used often in furniture and for other ornamental and functional woodworking endeavors. However, the greatest sights to behold are its leaves, which come in stalks of 15 to 23 leaflets and turn a sparkling yellow once October rolls around.

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White Ash

Commercial hardwood mills seek out White Ash for its versatility, and as such, this member of the olive family is used to make baseball bats, tool handles, furniture, and even flooring. Over time, however, this species has become threatened and may be difficult to find. Its delicate leaves, each with five to nine different leaflets, are its distinguishing feature. In fall, they generally turn yellow but may also display a unique burgundy hue.

Flowering Dogwood

With branches that appear to stretch out in a perfectly horizontal formation, Cornus florida creates a rounded or flat-topped canopy. Throughout the year, this deciduous tree’s leaves often appear tie-dyed, and by fall, they change to a red or reddish-purple hue. However, if you look closely as they begin to drop, many retain some of their original green.

Bitternut Hickory

These towering trees grow up to a hundred feet in some locations, so be sure to check the skyline for them. Known as Carya cordiformis, this species is known for dark brown bark with red streaks, along with notable yellow buds in the winter. In the fall, the tree produces golden leaves in clusters of eight, and is commonly found swarming forests, including in upstate New York and other Northeastern areas near lakes.

Credit: Lucas LaBarre
Credit: Lucas LaBarre

Sugar Maple

You can find Sugar Maples everywhere in the Northeast, but they tend to cluster in areas where they’re valued for their sweet sap, which is then used for syrup and sugar. Sugar Maples produce tons of shade in the spring and summer, and in the fall, their leaves become vibrantly yellow, red, or orange.

 

Still unsure about where to head first? It’s difficult to predict when the leaves will change, and it’s definitely a challenge to figure out how to time your visit perfectly before they all drop to the ground. However, it helps to call ahead. Many states have foliage hotlines or tourism bureaus that provide information on changing leaves. Most areas generally reach peak foliage sometime in October, so plan your visit then for the best views of the season’s most majestic scenery.


10 Energy-Packed Foods to Bring Hiking

You are what you eat, especially when you’re playing outdoors. Hard work while you’re hiking or backpacking requires lots of energy intake, so packing foods that are delicious, nutritious, and lightweight is key. Thankfully, finding tasty foods with plenty of calories, vitamins, protein, and healthy fats is easier than you think.

Shoot for foods that are made of wholesome, unprocessed ingredients in their natural state. The best will contain lots of energy and are ready to go, giving you more time to enjoy the wonders of mother nature, instead of the inside of your kitchen.

Pack around a pound and a half of food per day on short-mileage trips. For longer, more strenuous journeys, have closer to two pounds. You should aim for about one hundred calories per ounce of food, with a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat for optimal energy production. These homemade and prepackaged options are a great balance to meet all of your nutrition needs.

1. Nuts

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 172

Fat: 15 g

Protein: 6 g

Carbohydrates: 6 g

Iron: 3% DV

Calcium: 3% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 1% DV

Nuts are some of the most nutrient-dense foods available. By packing just a few servings in your bag, you’ll gain lots of protein and healthy fats. These can be packed in their whole, unprocessed form, or in the form of nut butters to spread on crackers or fruit.

 

2. Jerky

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 116

Fat: 7 g

Protein: 9 g

Carbohydrates: 3.1 g

Iron: 8% DV

Calcium: 0% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

You can make your own jerky with a dehydrator or purchase pre-made varieties. Turkey, goose, beef, and venison jerky are popular. It can be made out of virtually any type of meat. You can also use dried hard meats in casings, such as salami or summer sausage. These don’t have to be refrigerated and pack lots of protein for minimal weight. For vegetarians, soy jerky is also available, although this isn’t quite as high in calories.

 

3. Tuna packets

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 60

Fat: 3 g

Protein: 6 g

Carbohydrates: 0 g

Iron: 6% DV

Calcium: 0% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

Canned tuna will add too much weight to your pack, but plastic-packaged tuna is high in calories, protein, and healthy fats, along with critical omega-3s. Some tuna products are packaged in olive oil or water, making it an even healthier choice. Just make sure to bring a disposable bag to hold trash items and keep your gear clean.

 

4. Dried fruit

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 78

Fat: 0 g

Protein: 1 g

Carbohydrates: 20 g

Iron: 1% DV

Calcium: 1% DV

Vitamin A: 1% DV

Vitamin C: 3% DV

Store-bought dried fruits tend to contain unhealthy and unnecessary added sugars that can make you groggy and lethargic. For the best and healthiest dried fruits, make your own at home with a dehydrator, or purchase unsweetened varieties of favorites, such as mango, pineapple, and papaya.

Dried fruit is more compact than fresh fruit and also lasts much longer on the trail. It will add crucial fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your diet, even though it contains relatively few calories compared to other foods.

 

5. Energy bars

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 135

Fat: 4.5 g

Protein: 10 g

Carbohydrates: 15 g

Iron: 10% DV

Calcium: 17% DV

Vitamin A: 15% DV

Vitamin C: 25% DV

Energy bars are a more processed food that pack easily, but they do tend to contain more chemicals than other trail foods. Several manufacturers offer high-protein energy bars that contain nearly a day’s worth of protein, but watch out for unhealthy added sugars. Nevertheless, these store and pack well and can be quickly eaten on the trail. Aim for granola or energy bars with at least 20 grams of protein per serving.

 

6. Cheese

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 113

Fat: 9 g

Protein: 7 g

Carbohydrates: 0.5 g

Iron: 1% DV

Calcium: 20% DV

Vitamin A: 5% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

Choose hard cheeses that don’t need to be refrigerated or can tolerate some warmth without changing form, such as sharp cheddar. At over 100 calories per serving, these add a substantial amount of fat, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are necessary for rebuilding sore muscles and joints while you’re on the trail.

 

7. Whole grains

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 124

Fat: 4 g

Protein: 6 g

Carbohydrates: 20 g

Iron: 6% DV

Calcium: 1% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

Whole grains provide plenty of heart-healthy carbohydrates, and many are high in healthy vegetable fats. Grab some crackers and cereals instead of breads, as most breads contain excess water weight with fewer nutrients, thus making them an impractical addition to your pack. Tortillas, wheat crackers, granola, whole grain muesli, and Grape Nuts provide healthy options without taking up a lot of space.

 

8. Chocolate

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 150

Fat: 10 g

Protein: 2 g

Carbohydrates: 16 g

Iron: 0% DV

Calcium: 0% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

Chocolate should be packed and eaten sparingly, but can provide a great boost of energy and a dash of phytonutrients and carbohydrates. Dark chocolate is the most nutrient dense and adds healthy fats and calories. It also serves as a nice treat at the end of a long day of trekking—an added bonus!

 

9. Seeds

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 165

Fat: 14 g

Protein: 6 g

Carbohydrates: 7 g

Iron: 0% DV

Calcium: 0% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C:0% DV

Like nuts, seeds can be eaten on their own or processed and purchased as butters. The best contain high levels of health fats and include sunflower, chia, pumpkin, and flax seeds.

 

10. Hummus

Per average 1-oz. serving:

Calories: 30

Fat: 1 g

Protein: 2 g

Carbohydrates: 4 g

Iron: 0% DV

Calcium: 2% DV

Vitamin A: 0% DV

Vitamin C: 0% DV

Hummus doesn’t last as long out of refrigeration as these other foods, but it makes a great option for wintertime hiking or adventuring. Chickpeas, the primary ingredient, are high in protein and healthy fats. Hummus is a nice, savory addition to your whole-wheat crackers or breads, and weighs next to nothing in your pack.