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Welcome to the Fall Foliage Report for October 15, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Scott Campbell, Manager, Potomac-Garrett State Forest, Garrett County, says: “The wind and rain over the weekend contributed to significant leaf drop, with some stands now devoid of leaves. The oaks, however, are still holding their leaves and a few still have completely green crowns.”

Melissa Nash, Garrett project manager, reports: “The rain and wind over the weekend have taken many of the leaves from the formerly vibrant maples, putting us now past peak color. Pockets of beautiful fall foliage can still be found, though! Hickories are coming into prime golden yellow (my personal favorite) and oaks are beginning to turn shades of golden brown to burgundy.”

Sean Nolan, forest manager, Savage River State Forest, says:  “The red and white oaks are beginning to change while the maples remain in full color. Rain and wind brought down many leaves this week, but plenty of color remains.”

Daniel B. Hedderick, project forester, Flintstone, Allegany County, tells us: “The back forested country roads provide tunnels of color. Maples are at their peak. The oaks on the ridges need more time before they obtain full color, but the mountains are alive with fall splendor! It’s time to come out for the show! More color to come over the next few weeks.”

From left to right: Pignut hickory in brilliant yellow at Mt. Nebo Wildlife Management Area, White oak in full burgundy color at Western MD 4-H Center, and Cunningham Lake at Western MD 4-H Center, Credit: Melissa Nash / Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Ranger Jacob Doyle, park manager, Fort Frederick State Park complex, says: “I think we are still in pre-peak conditions but it won’t be long.”

Aaron Cook, forester, Clear Spring, reports: “Washington County is nearing peak color and will likely be at peak within the next week or so. Portions of the county with oak-dominated forests remain relatively green, but nearly all of the other tree species are showing some of the best colors in years. South Mountain into the Catoctins along the Washington-Frederick border is aflame with beautiful yellows, oranges, purples, and reds. A hike along the Appalachian Trail would take one through the heart of autumn foliage. In other parts of Washington County, fall is coming along a little more slowly, but the individual colors remain outstanding. This stagger in peak color change seems to suggest that leaf peepers could stretch their sightseeing over the course of two weekends with the higher elevations potentially peaking this coming weekend, and other lower ridges the following weekend. Time will tell, but the scenery is wonderful and the impacts of the wind and rain from Tropical Storm Delta did not seem to tarnish things too badly.”

Ranger Emily M. Bard, Greenbrier State Park, reports: “This week at South Mountain Recreation Area, we are noticing more color on the maples. Beautiful weather on Saturday led to trailheads packed with leaf peepers. However, we are not at peak color yet! On Sunday, rain set in, but I’m guessing by next weekend the fall colors will be spectacular! If you plan to visit Annapolis Rocks, try coming on a weekday or at an off time–the parking lot gets full early. If it is, there are plenty of other options. You could head down to Weverton Cliffs or take a drive to High Rock.”

Green Ridge State Forest is located in the Ridge and Valley Province of the Allegheny Mountain chain, with elevations ranging from 475 feet along the Potomac River to over 2,000 feet at the top of Town Hill. Point Lookout, Banners, Logroll, Warrior Mountain, and No Name Overlooks provide magnificent views of autumn’s splendor. Their Green Ridge Driving Tour guide not only provides route descriptions but adds a bit of local folklore and historical information about the area as well. The complete tour is approximately 30 miles long and makes an enjoyable three-hour scenic drive. Spectacular vistas allow for views into the neighboring states of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, so do not forget to take along your binoculars, cameras, and field guides. Copies of the tour guide are available at the forest headquarters, or you can download the tour guide here.

Mark Spurrier, park manager, Cunningham Falls, and Gambrill state parks, reports: “Cunningham Falls is really changing now. Beech and hickory trees are turning bright gold. Red maples are adding a dash of red to a still visible layer of green. My favorite time of year.”

Ranger Alyssa Myers, park supervisor, Patapsco Valley State Park, tells us: “Things are slowly starting to change here with the storms from the last few days pulling down leaves a bit faster.”

Ranger Angela Crenshaw, area manager, Gunpowder Falls State Park, says: “The colors are starting to pop!”

In Cecil County, Ranger Shawna Staup says: “Elk Neck State Park is starting to show more color. I would say it is about one-third of the way to peak but there is still a lot of green. “

Ranger Diana Marsteller says: “We are seeing a full palette of fall colors along the Big Elk Creek at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area. Many maples are showing canopies full of red, and the hickories are full of yellow and orange while our small persimmon trees display a lovely russet. Still seeing quite a bit of green in our forest canopy, so peak colors still on their way.”

Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks Credit: Mark Spurrier / Maryland Department of Natural Resources

On the lower Eastern Shore, Park Manager Dana Paterra

reports: “There are only a handful of sweet gum trees and a few poison ivy vines starting to change color down at Janes Island State Park.”

And as we continue celebrating Walktober, take an opportunity to view the fall foliage while enjoying Maryland’s official exercise – walking! 

Enjoy your Maryland weekend!

“After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth.
The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch.
The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze.
The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet.
Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her.
In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.” 

? Elizabeth George Speare, The Witch of Blackbird Pond


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