Crunching leaves beneath our feet is a quintessential sound of fall.

What You Need To Know

  • I Love NY puts out a foliage map every week in the fall and Scott Flaherty is one of the official leaf peepers

  • Tourism brings about $100 million to Madison County every year, according to Madison County officials

For Scott Flaherty, looking at the leaves is part of his job.

"That’s some good color change right there," Flaherty said at Great Swamp Conservancy. "I think that’s the best we’ve seen today."

Flaherty is the Executive Director of Madison County Tourism. He’s also the official leaf peeper.

"Leaf peeping is a great activity, keep socially distanced, get outside, get some fresh air, and just kind of see nature at its best," said Flaherty.  

Every week in the fall, Flaherty goes out, snaps a picture and notes what he sees to help compile I Love New York’s foliage map.

"On two or three maple trees so far, the color change only seems to be at the bottom," said Flaherty. "I’m not sure why that is."

Ask Syracuse University Physics Professor Alan Middleton.

"Each tree has its own sequence on how it changes, and it depends upon the weather and that’s why some seasons it’s different than others and how they respond to the different temperatures and the different amounts of light," explained Middleton.

Middleton said it's the perfect storm of how trees prepare for winter, and how our eyes see color that allow us to enjoy a vibrant fall.

At Great Swamp Conservancy, the colors are so vivid, even Flaherty stopped to take a picture, helping to highlight what Madison County has to offer. Fall is a big driver of the county’s $100 million tourism industry.

"You know, whether it's people coming to look at the leaves or if somebody wants to bring their family out to go to Critz Farms and partake in the traditional cider donuts and pumpkin picking activities, either way it’s just a great time to get out," said Flaherty.

So next time you’re out, look up and enjoy the foliage.