Welcome to the Fall Foliage and Festival Report for October 1, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Becky Wilson, Maryland Forest Service Western Region coordinator for Urban and Community Forestry, reports:

“From the land of magical beauty, I took this photo this evening from the bridge over the Youghiogheny at Swallow Falls State Park. Stunning!” Indeed.

Swallow Falls State Park Credit: Becky Wilson

Melissa Nash, forester and Garrett project manager, says:

“Some portions of the county are definitely at the midpoint, especially those areas with more maple. Red maples and sugar maples are beginning to pop, especially along roadsides on the ridge tops throughout Garrett County. Oaks are still a little further behind, as is usually the case. Some of the county will be seeing peak foliage in the next week or two.”

From Deep Creek Lake State Park, Oakland, Ranger Roy Musselwhite reports:

“This season’s foliage is showing signs of vibrant autumn. Maples, hickories, birches, and even red oaks are displaying bright colors. While not peak yet, it’s still impressive compared to the past few years.”

Allegany County Fall Foliage Collage Credit: Dan Hederick

Ranger Adam Stachowiak, assistant manager of Herrington Manor, Swallow Falls and Wolf Den Run state parks, tells us:

“While not yet at its peak, the fall colors really started to burst with a vibrant energy this week. The variety of yellows, greens, oranges, and reds popping along the river really enhances the experience in what is already a magical place. Times like this remind me how lucky we are to have public lands set aside to provide a true sense of exploration and awe. “

Daniel B. Hedderick, project forester, Flintstone, says:

“There has been a big change in just the last week. Color has arrived in Allegany County mostly along roads like Interstate 68, Route 144, and back country roads. Most of what we are seeing is close-up in the landscape with lots of noticeable color, including trees like black gum. Far landscapes in the distance are yet to come with big color.”

We welcome back Aaron Cook, forester based in Clear Spring! Aaron has just returned from an out-of-state fire assignment and we are all happy to have him back in Maryland, safe and sound and reporting on fall foliage from Washington County:

Orange colored sumac in Clear Spring, yellow black walnut with red Virginia creeper in Smithsburg and scenic view from Clear Spring. Credit: Aaron Cook

“Most of Washington County is changing, with vibrant colors from the traditionally early leaf changers including black walnut, hackberry, virginia creeper, sumac, poison-ivy, goldenrod, dogwood, and sweet birch, all of which are at or near peak color. Some black and sugar maples have begun turning. Colors range from golden yellow to red and purples. The ridges remain mostly green, with patches of yellow poplar and sweet birch offering dappled yellow and orange color as the oaks continue to slowly begin their change. I was surprised at how far fall had already come when I returned to the area a week ago. The cold front and showers expected today should bring down a lot of the peak color, but as these leaves drop the hickories should begin to come into peak color for the next report.”

Julia Musselwhite, assistant supervisor at Rocky Gap State Park in Flintstone, says:

“The leaves are progressing beautifully in Allegany County, with bright yellow hues from several species making their debut appearance this week. There is still much green remaining, but there is no mistaking that autumn has arrived in Western Maryland.”

And from Ranger Mary Ironside, park manager at South Mountain Recreation Area, Boonsboro:

“The sugar maples and tulip poplars are transitioning to winter. However, rains expected all week may cause the leaves to turn quickly and fall from the trees. Watch out for dropping acorns while on the trails! The squirrels and chipmunks will be snatching them up!”

Now’s the time to plan a 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 Herrington Manor State Park, Swallow Falls State Park, or the Potomac-Garrett State Forest, or continue south toward Backbone Mountain. From Oakland, turn east along Route 135 and plan an afternoon in 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 of 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. You can always turn off onto a quiet country road and surprise yourself with more breathtaking, unspoiled panoramas.

It’s a Blue Moon Month

The next full moon, the Harvest Moon, will appear soon after 5 p.m. Oct. 1 and will remain visible for about three nights. As the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox (the end of summer and start of fall), this is the Harvest Moon. During the harvest season, farmers sometimes need to work “by the light of the moon” late into the night. In most years, the Harvest Moon falls in September but this is one of the years it falls in October, making this a “Blue Moon” month. The second full moon will arrive on October 31.

Throughout October, 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!

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