Welcome to the Fall Foliage and Festival Report for the first full weekend of fall, Sept. 29 and 30, 2018, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
As September comes to a close, it appears the rain will diminish and we’ll have some partly cloudy to sunny days to look forward to this weekend. Reports out of Western Maryland confirm the first signs of the season, as the region’s early reds, yellows and oranges are starting to pop, particularly visible in Garrett County’s higher elevations above 2,500 feet.
“The mountains are starting to turn to a yellow-green when viewed from afar. A walk through the park gives you close-up views of hickories and sugar maples that are starting to turn, and the red maples have hints of crimson. The understory trees such as sassafras also are showing some color,” reports Deep Creek Lake State Park Manager Roy Musselwhite.
Melissa Nash, forestry manager based at Mount Nebo Wildlife Management Area comments: “A few individual trees are starting to change here in the far west (a handful of black gum and red maple).”
“From Clear Spring east it is still very green. The fall wildflowers took advantage of the sunny weather over the weekend and have really brightened up the landscape, and in the Hagerstown Valley the few walnuts that have not lost their leaves (from foliar pathogens associated with the abundant wet weather) are yellowing. The ridges are relatively green with some areas of maple starting to redden,” reports Maryland Forester Aaron Cook. “The warm wet weather is keeping everything in a state of growth.”
Further east, Judy Niedzielski reports, “the trees are soggy and green in the Hagerstown Valley. But, not to worry, soon the full glory of the changing foliage will begin in earnest.”
If you happen to be in Garrett County this weekend, one place to enjoy the changing fall foliage is at the subarctic swamp near Garrett State Forest, locally referred to as the Cranesville Swamp, and along the road to Swallow Falls State Park.
The leaves in neighboring Allegany County should be showing substantial change in another couple of weeks.
National Public Lands Day is Saturday and the Maryland Park Service could really use your help. Bring your family, friends, students or co-workers to spend the day outdoors giving back to your community by pulling invasive species, maintaining trails, picking up debris and trash, and more. Your work will help ensure our open spaces and public lands continue to be beautiful places for all to enjoy!
- Gambrill State Park – 9-11 a.m. Saturday
Assist staff and volunteers with various projects! Bring water, sturdy shoes/boots, durable work gloves and a great attitude.
- Cunningham Falls State Park – 9 a.m. Saturday
Forest ecology and stewardship events will involve plant identification, collecting and planting native plant seeds, and removing invasive plants. Bring work gloves, water and a snack or lunch. Adult participation and supervision required for children under 12.
- Elk Neck State Park – 9 a.m.-noon Saturday
Join thousands of people nationwide volunteering their time to benefit America’s public lands. Work side-by-side with staff and afterward enjoy a live animal program featuring some of Maryland’s most common reptiles.
There many festivals and events planned this weekend so now is the time to get the entire family into the spirit of the season.
In Western Maryland, Fort Frederick State Park hosts the Colonial Militia Muster 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday where visitors can experience what life was like for a citizen-soldier in the Maryland militia during the French and Indian War. This Washington County signature event begins with a flag raising ceremony over the historic fort built in 1756.
In Frederick County, the Middletown Heritage Festival begins with a 10 a.m. parade Saturday followed by historic encampments from the 18th century, children’s games and crafts, live music, and great food. Meet local artisans and crafters while learning about the history of Maryland’s “Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area.” Also Saturday, Art at the Point takes place on the Point of Rocks Community Center grounds in Frederick County. Artists, musicians, and demonstrators will be on hand – free admission, free parking, food and baked goods for sale – will make a day’s outing enjoyable for both artists and visitors.
Now through Sunday come out to Carroll County for some great family fun at the 40th Annual Westminster Fallfest. With over 80 vendors represented at this charitable event, highlights include a one-mile run, car show, bingo, karaoke and pie-eating contests, carnival rides, food and evening musical entertainment.
In Central Maryland, don’t miss the annual Charm City Fly-In Remote Control Airplane Festival, the largest celebration of radio-controlled flying in Maryland. Held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Baltimore County, this event includes demonstrations, airshows and hands-on experiences for the entire family.
What can you find in the park during the fall? Join staff in Gaithersburg at 11:30 a.m. Sunday for the Seneca Creek State Park Fall Scavenger Hunt and find out!
On the Eastern Shore, meet some friendly alpacas this weekend at the Fall Festival at Outstanding Dreams Alpaca Farm in Preston in Talbot County. Enjoy shopping for handcrafted alpaca fiber products, arts and crafts, live entertainment, and children’s activities 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Dock Day on the Bay is a waterfront festival celebrating the fishing culture, heritage and history of Chesapeake Bay. Highlights include in-water boats, great food and live music at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield at noon Saturday.
Travel to the southernmost tip of St. Mary’s County for Point Lookout State Park’s Artillery Weekend 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. This popular Civil War program at Fort #3 features artillery demonstrations and living history displays and scenarios.
You might also want to visit the Calvert County Fair in Prince Frederick, which celebrates the county’s long agricultural heritage. Through Sunday, see farm animals, displays of all kinds, demonstrations and enjoy delicious Southern Maryland cooking.
Now’s the time to plan ahead for an upcoming scenic drive west from Cumberland along Route 40 out to Keysers Ridge, then south along 219 through McHenry and Thayerville in the vicinity of Deep Creek Lake State Park.
While in the Oakland area, you might want to break for lunch in either the Herrington Manor or Swallow Falls sections of the Garrett State Forest, or continue south toward Backbone Mountain. From Oakland, turn east along Route 135 and plan an afternoon in the Savage River State Forest. Particular points of interest in this area are the Big Run State Park or further north, the Monroe Run Vista off New Germany Road near New Germany State Park. These spots are guaranteed to delight foliage fanatics over the next several weeks.
After crossing back into Allegany County, turn north on 220 near McCoole, wind through Dans Mountain Wildlife Management Area, and head back toward Cumberland. Or turn off onto a quiet country road and surprise yourself with more breathtaking, unspoiled panoramas.
If you’re planning a get-away to this weekend or next, keep in mind that cabins and campsites are still available for the fall season in many state parks. You can reserve one for a fantastic autumn weekend by calling 888-432-CAMP (2267) or parkreservations.maryland.gov.
“It was a beautiful bright autumn day,
with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.”
-Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
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