By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Oct 03, 2023 at 1:31 PM

Wisconsin autumns are even shorter than Wisconsin summers, so making the most of the season is a timely affair. A week can make a big difference when it comes to leaf peeping and it's easy to miss the boldest and brightest leaves.

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer as to exactly when's the best time to peep. The truth is, the most vibrant leaf days vary from year to year. 

"Fall colors are fickle," says WISN 12 Chief Meteorologist Mark Baden.  "There really is no rule of thumb."

According to Baden, people have lots of theories. Many say a drought will lead to dull colors, but the last drought experienced in Wisconsin was in 2012 and we still experienced amazing color that fall.

Although Mother Nature has zero hard-and-fast rules when it comes to the leaves changing, Baden – who has been a meteorologist with WISN 12 since 1997 – has a few insights.

"Generally, Southeastern Wisconsin peaks in late October. A dry and not windy October is really beneficial for great color," says Baden. "We shall see."

To further assess how to catch blazing red, orange and yellow leaves before they cascade to the ground, Travel Wisconsin created this Fall Color Report that shows the percentage of trees that are transitioning. 

Currently (the first week of October), only 25 percent of Washington County and West Bend trees are colorful; 15 percent in Dodge County and zero percent in Waukesha.

So waiting until the third or fourth week, as Baden suggested, seems like the ideal time. Now let's not all head to Holy Hill at the same time, though...

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.