“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant

Bold shades of red and copper are perfectly framed between blue skies and tranquil waters in Montgomery County. Photo by Tim Mohr.
Bold shades of red and copper are perfectly framed between blue skies and tranquil waters in Montgomery County. Photo by Tim Mohr.

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.

Southern Maryland

Greenwell State Park in St. Mary’s County offers leaf peepers 596 acres of fall foliage exploration. Photo by Project Forester Chase Kolstrom.

Quiet pockets of burgundy and yellow highlight the landscape in Greenwell State Park this week. “The maples and the oaks are the fall standouts right now,” reports Project Forester Chase Kolstrom.

Eastern Maryland

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.

A picturesque view welcomes visitors to White Marsh Park in Queen Anne’s County. Photo by Natural Resources Technician Devyn M. Croghan.

A forest in transition along a walk in White Marsh Park in Queen Anne’s County. Photo by Natural Resources Technician Devyn M. Croghan

Central Maryland

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.”

Shelter 301 in the Hollofield Area of Patapsco Valley State Park is surrounded by leaves of copper and gold. Photo by Park Ranger Lead Melissa Carson.

Visitors to Rocks State Park can still catch a glimmer of fall’s best amidst largely past peak forest conditions.

Bright oranges and yellows adorn Deer Creek at the Hills Grove Picnic Area in Rocks State Park. Photo by Administrative Specialist Dave Gigliotti.

Northern Maryland

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. 

A few faded shades of fall color appear in the tree canopies above a frost-covered field at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area. Photo by Seasonal Park Ranger Shin Ae Gonzalez

A thin layer of frost outlines the stem and veins of a copper leaf. Photo by Seasonal Park Ranger Shin Ae Gonzalez.

Western Maryland

The beech trees in Indian Springs Wildlife Management Area are showing off fall’s finest in gold and persimmon. Photo by Watershed Forester Bob Schwartz.

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.

The sun’s rays magnify the scarlet and amber of a pin oak’s leaves.

Seasonal Park Ranger Stacey Jones was able to capture a few of the remaining fall treasures to be discovered this week at Fort Frederick State Park.

“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.”

The hues of the tree canopies from the overlook at Sideling Hill Creek State Park, a favorite among photographers during leaf peeping season, are fading fast as the season draws to a close. Photo by LTC Park Ranger Kendra Bree.

Sparse tree limbs above and crunchy leaves below pave the way for winter to enter the landscape at Sideling Hill. Photo by Park Ranger Kendra Bree.

Layers of russet leaves are no match for this persimmon beauty in the Rock Run area of Gambrill State Park. Photo by Park Ranger Manager Mark Spurrier.

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.”

A proud conifer gets its day in the sun in the Kitzmiller Botanical Garden. Photo by Project Forester Melissa Nash.
A proud conifer gets its day in the sun in the Kitzmiller Botanical Garden. Photo by Project Forester Melissa Nash.

Reader Photos

Photo by Cathy V. in Frederick County

Photo by Cathy V. in Frederick County

Photo by Cathy V. in Frederick County

Photo by Michael D. In Howard County.

Recreational Spotlight 

Photo by Stephen Badger, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

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 ParkNovember 10-11 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Veterans Weekend at Pocomoke River State ParkNovember 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.

Photo by Gerald Rhemann.
Photo by Gerald Rhemann.

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