This fall season is shaping to be a memorable one, and if you’re lucky enough to live in or visit Western Maryland right now, you’ll soon know why. The fall foliage show is on in mountainous Western Maryland with a full spectrum of fall colors. This week we have an extended report from our park staff and foresters out west to help you figure out what’s happening where and plan your visits accordingly.
Although Western Maryland is the show’s star this week, the rest of our beautiful state is also starting to transform, likely saving its peak displays for weeks to come.
October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came—
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
Excerpt taken from October’s Party by George Cooper
Don’t forget your camera this weekend. Send in photos of your fall Maryland adventures, and we may use them in next week’s report.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth quite a bit more. To get this week’s foliage report started, check out this drone footage taken by Forester Melissa Nash, capturing sweeping views of fall color from Grantsville in Garrett County. Please note park manager approval is required for drone use within our state parks.
In Washington County, most of the early trees are draped in cloaks of burgundy and gold, with more seeming to turn every day. Perhaps surprising to some, one plant that is enjoyable to see in the fall is poison ivy. Its vibrant ruby red stands out among the yellow walnuts as it climbs through our forested landscape. The fall wildflowers give as good a show as the foliage; if you get them together, it’s unmatched. Canada goldenrod and New England aster offer a study in complementary colors; growing near each other as these two do increases the pollinator visitation rates for each other since their color combination makes them really “pop” to pollinators.
Robert R. Schwartz, Forester, Clear Spring
Savage River State Forest
A noticeable change has occurred along the Savage River State Forest trails. Red maple and sugar maple leaves are nearing the peak of color change, showing various shades of red, orange, and yellow along the ridge tops and high elevations in Northern Garrett County. Black gum and sassafras still display red leaves, while the beech trees are beginning to turn yellow. Always the last to arrive at fall’s party, the oak trees remain pretty green, but some white oaks are beginning to show glimmers of red and orange.
Sean Nolan, Forest Manager, Savage River State Forest
Potomac-Garrett State Forest
Frosty mornings followed by warm sunny afternoons have coaxed a full palette of colors at Potomac-Garrett State Forest. A second-growth mixed hardwood forest dominated by mixed oaks, sugar and red maples, black cherry, basswood, ash, and birch, Potomac-Garrett is a great destination for leaf peepers. “Snag” is a campsite at Snaggy Mountain to surround yourself with fall’s glory.
Scott Campbell, Forest Manager, Potomac-Garrett State Forest
Fort Frederick State Park
The leaves are inching their way toward peak color at Fort Frederick. If riding a bike is your favorite way to take in the fall foliage, join us this Saturday for a guided tour on the Western Maryland Rail Trail. This ranger-led bike ride is approximately 8 miles long roundtrip and taken at a leisurely pace. Check out our calendar for more information and other park events.
Bob Study, State Park Ranger Supervisor, Fort Frederick State Park Complex
Garrett County visitors passing through the Deep Creek Lake area will enjoy stunning vistas as we begin peak fall foliage season. Changes in the weather have contributed to the rapid change, with some trees seeming to shift from one hue to the next overnight. Always a standout, the red maples range from rich golds to deep reds and fuchsias. Hickories still display bold neon yellow tones, while white oaks shift from green to russet, dropping many of their leaves. Quaking aspens wave with beautiful buttery shades of yellow, and the forest staple, the Eastern Hemlock, holds steadfast with its deep emerald tones.
Cricket Smith, State Park Ranger, Deep Creek Lake State Park
In the picturesque Catoctin Mountains, colors are changing rapidly. Due to recent weather conditions, the leaf colors are not quite as vibrant, but most views of the Frederick and Middletown Valleys do not disappoint.
Ranger Mark Spurrier, Cunningham Falls, and Gambrill State Parks
Patapsco Valley State Park is known for its beautiful scenery, and many visitors head to the park this time of year to enjoy the fall foliage. The colors of the leaves are starting to change, and the view along the trails in the Avalon area of the park excites visitors for what’s yet to come this fall.
Ranger Alyssa Myers, Patapsco Valley State Park
The redbuds and mockernut hickories are losing their leaves first, with the oaks starting to follow suit. The goldenrods are tapering off, but the frost-white asters are strong for our pollinators.
Cristina V. Perez, Tree Planting Specialist, Maryland Forest Service Prince Frederick
We’ve had reports of fall changes beginning on the Eastern Shore, but we’re still green for the most part. The fall wildflowers are happy to steal the show for now and can be seen popping up along country roads and at local farm stands.
Photo Submissions for the Week
We’d like to thank all of the folks who continue sending photos of fall scenes from across the state. Your reports and photos show first-hand accounts of our fall transition in Maryland. Please send us your fall foliage photos, including the names of any tree species you spot, using our easy online form!