Where to find information. Starting in September, fall-foliage and general information hotlines provide recorded updates on color conditions. Many include listings of autumn festivals and fairs in the various states.

Conn.: 800-282-6863

Maine: 800-533-9595

Mass.: 800-227-MASS

N.H.: 800-258-3608

R.I.: 800-556-2484

Vt.: (802) 828-3239

When to visit. It all depends on the weather, but here are some general guidelines:

In Maine, leaf-peeping is usually at its best the second week of September in the north and the second week of October in the south.

Colors are at their most brilliant in Vermont the last week of September and the first week of October. The White Mountains of New Hampshire peak around Oct. 1.

In Massachusetts, peak time is Oct. 1-4 in the Berkshires; Oct 3-16 in north-central Massachusetts; Oct. 5-18 in the Springfield and Worcester areas; Oct. 15-21 north of Boston and Greater Boston; and Oct. 17-24 on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket.

What to do. For those who want to do more than look at the brilliant colors, there are fall festivals galore. Two examples:

Blue Hill Fair, Blue Hill, Maine, Aug. 31-Sept. 4. The Blue Hill Fair is known as a ''down to earth'' country fair. For information, call: 800-533-9595.

Lenox Apple Squeeze, Lenox, Mass., Sept. 17-18. This two-day event celebrates the first apple-cider pressing and the end of summer. There are sidewalk sales, an antique car show, and music and food of every description.

What you'll see. New England foliage is known for its variety. The leaf colors of some tree species you might find:

Yellow leaves: American elm, beech, birch, silver maple, striped maple, sugar maple, Norway maple, willow, mountain ash.

Red leaves: black cherry, pin oak, sumac, white oak.

Scarlet leaves: red maple, scarlet oak, sugar maple.

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