Fall is officially here and the trees are starting their transformation across the state. The western parts of Maryland will see the first true signs of color beginning this week, although things are off to a slow start. With the recent rainfall color should ramp up soon and the show will begin.
Join us as we follow the transition each week with reports from our experts at our state forests and parks. This year for the first time, we welcome all of Maryland’s outdoor enthusiasts to send in photos capturing the beauty of the fall season. Please use the submission form to submit your entries directly to us. Your photo might be selected to appear in a future edition of the Fall Foliage Report!
Garrett County, Maryland
The honey locust is making its fall debut with golden leaves, signaling the arrival of the season. We should see additional fall colors peeking through the landscape following this week’s rain showers. Melissa Nash – New Germany State Park
A few trees in the park are getting a jump start to autumn; treating us to early color. Small sugar maples along the waterfront area are displaying their classic yellow leaves. Ranger Roy Musselwhite – Deep Creek Lake State Park
Allegany County, Maryland
Taking a leisurely drive along the backcountry roads in Allegany County, you will spot the yellowing of both sycamore and black walnut leaves. The Virginia creeper (above), a common vine in our forests, is also starting to reveal signs of fall with jewel-toned leaves of crimson and purple. Daniel B. Hedderick – Project Forester, Forest Service
At this time there still is not very much color to report at Rocky Gap State Park in Allegany County. We have recently been experiencing warm temperatures and no precipitation, resulting in an overall drying out and slight yellowing and browning of some tree foliage. However, rainfall this week makes us hopeful that conditions will soon improve and allow for more splendid color. Julia Musselwhite – Rocky Gap State Park
Frederick County, Maryland
Fort Frederick picnic area, September 23, 2021.
Check back each week, we’ll be posting an updated photo of this spot
so you can see the leaves changing week to week.
The flora in Western Maryland along the earth’s 78th Meridian remains largely unchanged, like children reluctant to give up days at the pool and wake up early for school. However, we are seeing some nice fall pollinator plants in the park, planted as seedlings in conjunction with the Monarch Alliance several years ago. These include late boneset, tall goldenrod, New England aster, and frost asters. Bob Study – Fort Frederick State Park Complex
Fall Recreation Spotlight
Fall magic is in the air – literally! Flying overhead right now are hundreds of monarch butterflies, making their annual migration to Mexico. This Saturday is the annual Monarchs and Milkweed festival at Merkle Wildlife Sanctuary & Visitor’s Center. Adults and kids of all ages have an opportunity to take part in a variety of activities, including tagging and releasing monarchs, a Scales & Tales display, hayrides, guided hikes and tours, crafts, and – new for 2021 – a monarch costume contest and native plant sale. The event takes place Saturday, September 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Watch the sky
If you’re a stargazer looking for Mars, it’s too close to the glare of the sun at this point to be visible. Mercury was spotted earlier in the month but may be more difficult to find now. However, a few of our neighbors in the sky can be seen during the latter point of September. Venus sits low, west/southwest for an hour or so of viewing after sundown. Move your gaze south/southeast to find a bright Jupiter near a dimly lit Saturn, seeming to tag along with the more visible planet. Toward the end of the month, keep an eye out for the Andromeda Galaxy in the northeast after dusk if you have a dark sky.