“I wish that every day was Saturday and every month was October.”
– Charmaine J. Forde
The treetops of Sword Mountain awaken as the sun rises in Clear Spring. Photo by Forester Aaron Cook.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – With colors intensifying across the state this week, parts of Maryland are right on the cusp of peak leaf change. The mountains of western Maryland are seeing bold shades of amber, crimson and gold, while other regions of our state are reporting marked increases in autumnal hues, spreading further along the tree canopies in central, northern, and southern Maryland. This weekend’s weather promises to bring warmer than average temperatures to the region, and we’re embracing the shift – and the burst in fall color – by including some of our best locations to enjoy a walk in the woods at one of our state parks and forests.
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As many Marylanders eagerly anticipate peak leaf peeper conditions, Forest Manager Sean Nolan thinks we still have a few days to go, even in Garrett County.
“I can’t say I’ve noticed much change since last week,” he said. “There are certainly colors to see but the oak trees are still in the early phases of their transition. I would put this week in the ‘near peak’ category again.” Much of Garrett’s forested areas are dominated by oaks, typically the last tree to turn during the fall season. “We often base our peak conditions on the changing of the oak leaves,” added Nolan.
Miles of trails lined with leaves of spun gold beckon visitors to Northern Garrett County. Photo by Forest Manager Sean Nolan.
Beaver pond provides reflection to yellow and orange treetops at Fort Frederick State Park. Photo by Seasonal Ranger Stacey Jones.
“Fall has arrived in full splendor” in Frederick County, according to Cunningham Falls State Park Manager Mark Spurrier. Cunningham Falls is located in the picturesque Catoctin Mountains, an ideal spot for viewing fall’s bounty of colors.
Walk in the Woods: The William Houck Area of the park offers five easy trails to choose from, ranging from a half-mile to two miles in length.
Hues of russet and copper provide a perfect fall backdrop to the concession center at Cunningham Falls State Park. Photo by Seasonal Ranger Carson Delauter.
A golden maple leaf gets its close up along the Cliff Trail in the William Houck Area of Cunningham Falls State Park. Photo by Seasonal Ranger Carson Delauter.
Hunting Creek Lake provides a scenic view of fall color at Cunningham Falls State Park. Photo by Seasonal Ranger Carson Delauter.
Aaron Cook, Project Manager/Forester in Clear Spring, predicts Washington and Frederick counties will reach peak leaf change next week as the area enjoys another weather pattern of sun-filled days and crisp, starry nights.
“The leaves in Clear Spring are nearly peak; Sideling Hill is also pretty close,” said Cook. “South Mountain oaks are starting to pop, but most of the color on the ridge is from red maple which has just about peaked and is fading. Down by Sugarloaf the color is a little less uniform and a tad bit behind. If you get into the woods, rather than taking in the view from afar, it is very colorful and almost overwhelming. Anyone out for a hike on a trail at our parks, or afield hunting game will be able to enjoy the fall colors and smells.”
Gorgeous autumnal views in Clear Spring. Photo by Forester Aaron Cook.
Forest Manager Scott Campbell checks in from Potomac-Garrett State Forest this week: “The lingering green of the oaks has given way to subdued yellow, orange and brown hues and the maples are standouts in vibrant yellows and oranges.”
Sunrise at Piney Mountain in Garrett State Forest on the opening day of the black bear hunting season. Photo by Forest Manager Scott Campbell.
Dave Gigliotti, Administrative Specialist at Rocks and Susquehanna state parks reports promising signs of change in the central region at Rocks State Park this week: “The golden-hued hickories are particularly noticeable. Park visitation to areas like the King and Queen Seat and various trails is picking up as people come out to see the fall show and walk among the changing leaves.”
Walk in the Woods: Take a leisurely walk along a serene and scenic half-mile trail to the 17-foot-high Kilgore Falls, Maryland’s second highest vertical drop waterfall. This non-developed, environmentally sensitive area is easily accessed from the park Rocks State Park parking lot.
King and Queen Seat at Rocks State Park rewards visitors with expansive views of fall foliage. Photo by Administrative Specialist Dave Gigliotti.
Bountiful sunshine illuminates the golden leaves of hickory trees at Rocks Ridge in Rocks State Park. Photo by Administrative Specialist Dave Gigliotti.
Maryland’s Eastern Shore is starting to show more signs of leaf change as the season progresses, with shades of burgundy, yellow and amber popping up in the forest canopies.
Walk in the Woods: Pocomoke State Forest‘s Pusey Branch Trail is a self-guided interpretive 0.6-mile loop trail located approximately 4 miles west of Furnace Town near the intersection of Old Furnace and Old Beech Roads. The trail features interpretive waypoints that provide hikers with additional information about the various forest communities that are present on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Fall is announcing its presence on Maryland’s Eastern Shore at White Marsh Creek in Queen Anne’s County. Photo by Project Manager Andrew Amoruso.
“Our fall color really got going this week, and it has changed the feeling of a walk in the woods, especially when the sun is shining through the leaves,” reports Shin Ae, Seasonal Park Ranger at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area and Bohemia River State Park in Cecil County. “We’ve had windy weather the last couple days which has resulted in a forest floor covered in fall confetti. What’s not to love about that?”
Leaves of scarlet draw the eye toward Oak Point in Bohemia River State Park. Photo by Park Ranger Lesley Leader.
Walk in the Woods: a visit to Bohemia State Park features approximately 5 miles of natural-surface, multi-use trails that offer visitors abundant opportunities for recreation and nature exploration. The trails traverse a variety of habitats such as hardwood bottomland forests, meadows, seeps and tidal marshes and offer numerous views of the Bohemia River.
Project Forester Chase Kolstrom at Cedarville State Forest has noticed an increase in fall color in Southern Maryland. “All of those beautiful colors are really starting to pop much more than last week,” said Kolstrom, who attributes the change to consistently cooler nighttime temperatures. He expects to see more autumn color in the days ahead, “I’m still seeing some green holding strong, but there’s still a lot more color change to come in the next week or so.”
A towering red maple displays the phases of leaf change against a sapphire sky in St. Mary’s County. Photo by Project Forester Chase Kolstrom.
Fall in Cedarville State Forest. Photo by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Walk in the Woods: Did you know there are over 19 miles of trails for hiking, biking and equestrians at Cedarville State Forest? The trails wind past the loblolly pine plantations planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, a charcoal kiln, and through farm areas where springs and streams were once used to make moonshine.
Photos Sent in by Our Readers
We welcome all of Maryland’s outdoor enthusiasts to send in photos capturing the beauty of the fall season. Please use the submission form to submit your entries directly to us. Your photo might be selected to appear in a future edition of the Fall Foliage Report.
Photo by Junyi Z. in Garrett County
Photo by Janet G. Carroll County
Photo by Janet G. Carroll County
Photo by Wayne W. in Frederick County
Fall Recreation Spotlight
Maryland State Parks are getting in the spirit of the Halloween season with plenty of activities lined up for young and old alike. The Spooky Hollow Hike takes place at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area on Friday, October 27 at 7 p.m. and Patuxent River State Park invites the kids to their annual Halloween Facts and Fun on Saturday, October 28 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Ghosts and goblins will enjoy a Spooky Scavenger Hunt on Halloween from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Seneca Creek State Park.
Watch the Sky
Comet Lemmon is brightening quickly as it approaches a close pass of the earth next month, according to astronomy.com. Currently flying beneath the curved handle of the Big Dipper, Lemmon is highest in the early-morning hours before sunrise. Skywatchers should step outside any time after about 5 A.M. while the sky is still dark. Look north, where you’ll see the Big Dipper standing upright on the end of its handle. Right where the handle kinks is the famous naked-eye double of Mizar and Alcor. From this pair, swing binoculars or a telescope about 6° south-southwest to land smack dab on Lemmon.