Early Leaf Peeping – Clinton, CT

Autumn LeavesNew England (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut) is known for its Fall foliage, and to the locals this time of year is one of the reasons they love their four seasons. Connecticut was the last of the six New England states we would visit while here, and we were looking forward to seeing some fall colors. However, we were advised upon our arrival in Clinton, CT, that it was still “low and pre-peak.”  We were here two weeks early – bummer!

So why do the leaves change color?

Leaves on the trees already possess these spectacular colors, but they are hidden.  Leaves contain a chemical substance called chlorophyll, which gives leaves their inherent green color.  As the season starts to turn cold, trees begin to block the flow of water to their leaves.  Without water, the chlorophyll breaks down and vibrant colors are revealed in all their splendor.

We really wanted to become “leaf peepers”, as they are called here.  So, I asked our campground host where to best see the colors in the area.  She said, “Don’t worry about missing “peak” color.  You’ll still be able to enjoy a full array of colors that can be found before “peak”, which is just right around the corner.”  At the same time she pointed me behind the office.

Autumn Leaves, RiverDale farm site campground
Nice pond at our campground with some colors.

While at Clinton, we stayed at River Dale Farm Campsites (Steve’s campground review is here).  Had I not asked at the office, I might have missed the nearby “pond.”  And as I continued walking around the body of water, viola – more colors appeared.

Autumn Leaves

Turning around to take another photo, I managed to include Betsy in the frame…

Riverdale Farm Site Campground

…and in another area of the park was more beautiful fall foliage.  We’re happy with all the colors we saw, but we know they will be out in full force soon after we leave 😦

Fall Foliage

I was satisfied with my first experience as a leaf peeker.  We may have missed some of the splendor of New England, but we’ll certainly see more of this awesome beauty as we continue our slow trek south.

After enjoying the fall foliage at our campground, we set out for the beach!  Again?  Well, Hammonasset State Beach Park was only 5 miles south of us, so why not?  Being late in the season, we got free parking.  Check Steve out, as he tries to find “just the right spot” in the completely empty and vast parking lot.

Hammonasset State Beach Park
“OK, this spot looks just right”.

Our walk at the beach park was quite interesting.  We strolled along the shoreline on the newly-installed boardwalk, then followed the trail leading to extensive salt marshes at the mouth of the Hammonassett River.  This was the Hammonassett Salt Marsh, a nature preserve area.

Hammonasset State Beach Park
Very nice boardwalk, right on the beach.
Hammonassett Salt Marsh
The salt marshes at Hammonassett River.

This nature preserve area is also popular with artists, who were busy doing their work near the rocky coastline.  On this day we witnessed four of them engrossed with their craft.

Rocky Coastline at Meigs Point
Two of the four Painters doing their thing at Meigs Point

And just like the birds who stopped here on their way south, we will continue our southward migration.

It was a great fall day to enjoy the gorgeous weather while leaf peeping and beach walking.




  1. Still very nice color even though you were not there for the peak. You two I believe have been the ones to follow this year for the most interesting, diverse, stunningly beautiful sights. Your photos say it all…gorgeous. 🙂

  2. OMG…those two pond photos with the RV’s could be used for a RV brochure, gorgeous! I pretty much missed any fall colors this year 😦 I was on your blog archives yesterday. I think we may spend the month of February in San Antonio.

  3. Your pictures are beautiful…..that’s a wonderful area for leaf peepers! The reflections on the pond are awesome! And I always LOVE the beach!

  4. I am enjoying autumn vicariously through you! The cactus are still green here! lol The pond shots are beautiful. Steve and himself share a similar gene when it comes to finding a parking place. I think to myself ‘I could have finished my shopping by the time you choose a space’ or ‘are you parking in the next town?’

  5. Looks like you caught some nice colors after all, peak is a very elusive thing, even for us who’ve been in New England for weeks. Depending on your route south, and how much time you have, you might check out the Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina/Tennessee – it’s beautiful in the fall and it should be peak there later.

  6. Lovely colors!! My buddies on the East Coast tell me this has been one of the best color changes they’ve seen in years. Looks like you caught a part of it.

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