It is now officially Fall with a chill in the air and the welcomed return of the Canada geese. The most obvious indicator of autumn’s arrival, the changing of the foliage, is still a few weeks away for most of the state. However, in Western Maryland, pockets here and there are starting to show splotches of brilliant color. Traditionally it’s the region where leaf color changes are seen first, with the foliage in Garrett and Allegany counties beginning to turn beginning in late September and peaking toward the middle of October.

Maple tree in Deep Creek Lake State Park Credit: Roy Musselwhite

Deep Creek Lake State Park manager Roy Musselwhite reports: 

“Some of the maples are starting to share a sneak peek of what is in store in the coming weeks. Little pockets of red and orange dot the landscape.”

Melissa Nash, Garrett project manager with the Maryland Forest Service, says:

“We are still just seeing subtle splashes of color; however, with bright sunny days and cool nights (we’ve had frost every morning since Friday), we may be in for a good display in a couple more weeks!” 

Melissa also wants to remind you that it’s a great time of year to be out looking for fall mushrooms!

New Germany Road on Sept. 21, Credit: Melissa Nash

“(Chicken of the woods and hen of the woods) are choice edibles. Many folks associate mushroom foraging with looking for morels in the spring, but fall brings a host of tasty food from the woods too! Other commonly found fall choice mushrooms include oyster mushrooms and puffballs. Fresh mushrooms make a great side dish for that squirrel, early season waterfowl, or bow season deer! If you’re new to foraging mushrooms, be sure of what you’re looking at before you consume. It’s best to pick up a good identification book and go with an experienced forager if you can.”

Chicken of the woods and hen of the woods mushrooms Credit: Melissa Nash

Daniel B. Hedderick, Maryland Forest Service project forester in Flintstone, reports:

“Virginia creeper vines have started to change and staghorn sumac have started to change; both are common species found near the edge of our forest. Other than that, just a few flags of color in a few small places, but nothing spectacular just yet.”  

According to Julia Musselwhite, Assistant Supervisor at Rocky Gap State Park in Flintstone:

Virginia creeper vines, staghorn sumac, and autumn scenes showing some flashes of color in Allegany County Credit: Dan Hedderick

“Cold overnight temperatures and warm sunny days this week in Western Maryland have everyone excited for fall. At Rocky Gap State Park in Allegany County, we are just beginning to see a change in color. Hikers and mountain bikers on the popular Lakeside Loop Trail are sure to catch scattered patches of red and orange along the shoreline and dotting the mountainside.”

At Cunningham Falls and Gambrill state parks, Melissa Carson reports:

Early leaf changes in Rocky Gap State Park Credit: Julie Musselwhite

“The black gum trees along Gambrill Park Road are showcasing that beautiful, early autumn color. The dogwoods around day-use areas of parks are also turning. The real show-stopper right now in Frederick County is the goldenrod blooming. The pollinator garden throughout the Cunningham Falls William Houck Area Campground is also affording camera-worthy fall foliage.”

Looking ahead, we encourage you to enjoy the fall colors while enjoying Maryland’s official state exercise — walking! Join us for Maryland’s first-ever WALKTOBER, which includes free events and webinars you can search and sign up for online.

Enjoy your Maryland weekend!

Pollinator garden in Cunningham Falls State park Credit: Melissa Carson

“The goldenrod is yellow,
The corn is turning brown
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.”

–  Children’s Song

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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