“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Fall foliage season is coming to a close in Maryland and we’ve had plenty of sunshine and clear blue skies to take in some amazing views across the state. Leaf drop is significant, and our forest floors and park trails are providing colorful pathways to views otherwise unseen during the warmer months. We begin this week’s report from the south and east where visitors can still catch autumn’s best and final curtain call.
Maryland’s Eastern Shore is home to two state forests and ten state parks, most of which are located along the water, providing scenic views of the fall transition. Maryland Forest Service Project Manager Andrew Amoruso reports much of the region peaked last week, but there is still plenty of autumn beauty left to enjoy.
At the Hollofield Area of Patapsco Valley State Park, breezy conditions have resulted in a lot of leaf loss in the forest canopies, according to Park Ranger Lead Melissa Carson. “Unfortunately, the wind seems to have robbed our trees of their foliage,” Carson says. “Here and there you will find a pop of color, but we seem to be past peak, if there ever was a true one.”
Visitors to Rocks State Park can still catch a glimmer of fall’s best amidst largely past peak forest conditions.
Like other parts of Maryland this week, the temperatures have been up and down at Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area, with some evenings dipping low enough to produce a light morning frost. “We are definitely past peak, but some leaves remain on the trees,” reports Seasonal Park Ranger Shin Ae Gonzalez.
Although recent frost and snowfall may have many residents preparing for winter in this region of Maryland, there are still a few remaining signs of autumn. “While we’re mostly past peak color, even in Washington County, the beeches near Ferry Hill on the C&O Canal National Historical Park say otherwise,” reports Forester Bob Schwartz. “The pawpaw and spicebush are also turning with them, really putting the ‘gold’ in the golden hour.”
While most of us tend to think maples display fall’s best color, Schwartz says we shouldn’t underestimate the oaks: “The oaks are popping, and pin oaks probably have the showiest fall color, followed by Nuttall’s oaks as a close second. I tell folks that I talk to, if someone is looking to add some color to their yard, while also attracting the largest amount of wildlife possible, oaks are the way to go. Plus, there are oaks of all sizes, from the classic full-size White Oak to the diminutive Bear Oak, so they can fit yards of all sizes.”
Did you know that autumn is the best time to plant potted trees? The Marylanders Plant Trees program has $25 coupons available for native trees and shrubs from participating nurseries.
“We are well past peak with visibility through our forests,” Park Ranger Kendra Bree reports from Fort Frederick State Park. “Most of the trees still holding onto their leaves are oaks and sycamores.”
Forester Aaron Cook also reports beautiful color in beech and oak amidst a landscape of otherwise past peak foliage: “We are past peak and much of the canopy is now bare, save some pockets of beech and oak. The beeches are showing some bronze in sheltered drainage areas. The oaks, mostly white, are transitioning from burgundy and red. We’ve definitely reached season’s end, but the river bottoms have bold white silhouettes from sycamore, along with other trees who steal the spotlight when they shed their leaves.”
With conditions well past peak in Garrett County, Project Forester Melissa Nash finds unsung beauty in the conifers this time of year. “Many conifers are evergreen, but bald cypress trees are deciduous conifers that shed their needlelike leaves in the fall,” Nash said. “While native to some parts of Maryland and the southeast United States, this species is not found in Garrett County except where planted. Bald cypress will tolerate wet and poorly drained soils.”
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will commemorate Veterans Day 2023 with multiple state park events this weekend. Some events are limited to veterans and their families only, please contact the park office directly for more details about specific events.
|Veterans Day Campfire Stories at Patapsco Valley State Park||November 10 from 1 – 3 p.m.|
|Veterans Weekend at Seneca Creek State Park||November 10-11 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.|
|Veterans Weekend at Pocomoke River State Park||November 10 – 12|
Watch the Sky
Skywatchers rejoice – and grab that winter coat – as the Northern Taurids meteor shower will reach its maximum overnight on Saturday. According to space.com, the best viewing time for North American skywatchers will be the hours around midnight when the shower’s radiant near the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus will be well above the horizon in a dark, moonless sky. Some Taurids should also be visible on Sunday night. The Northern Taurids meteor shower runs worldwide from Oct. 20 to Dec. 10 annually and is the result of debris dropped by the passage of periodic Comet 2P/Encke.