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Columbus Day weekend provides early opportunity to view foliage on LI

A couple of cyclists ride on a trail

A couple of cyclists ride on a trail through Caumsett State Park in Huntington on a sunny fall afternoon. (Oct. 21, 2012) Credit: Daniel Brennan

Foliage on Long Island is coloring a little sooner and will be around 40 percent to 50 percent changed for the Columbus Day weekend, a fall color report says.

Foliage spotters in the Hamptons say to expect "50 percent leaf change with autumn shades of red, orange and gold," according to the report found at Nassau and western Suffolk are a little behind at 40 percent, with yellow, orange, purple and green.

The absence of rain is one key reason for the early color change, said Mina Vescera, nursery and landscape specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. Lack of water stresses trees, which can cause them to move early into dormancy, she said.

The color is expected to be at its peak this weekend in the Chautauqua-Allegheny, central New York and Capital-Saratoga regions, the report said.

Still, peak may be a little overrated. At this midpoint, people can appreciate the progression of color change, "seeing what's happening," says Michael S. Gaines, certified master arborist with CW Arborists in Sagaponack.

Likely areas for foliage viewing on Long Island include Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park, Great River; Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, Oyster Bay; and the Bailey Arboretum, Lattingtown.

On the South Fork, try cruising through small towns along Route 27, Gaines said, heading up through north Amagansett and on to Sag Harbor and Noyack.

"Don't forget the little ponds and kettle holes," he said, "where tupelos, maples and oaks will create quite a color splash."

The weather appeared to be cooperating, with mostly sunshine and high temperatures in the upper 60s forecast for Sunday and Monday, said Lauren Nash, National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton. Look for cloudier skies Saturday, she said.

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