Maryland has been called “America in Miniature” – you can find just about any kind of natural feature here, except a desert. This has extended to the weather recently, with snow falling in Western Maryland and sunny, 70-degree days and blue skies on the Eastern Shore. The snowfall caused the loss of a lot of leaves, leaving areas in western and northern Garrett County past peak conditions. In other areas of the state, we’re seeing color changes in a pattern consistent with past years, just with the fall colors turned up a welcome notch. 

“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.”

– Faith Baldwin

These are the same trees in the same location (Pleasant Valley Road, Rocky Gap, Allegany County) but in different years. The photos were taken on the same date, October 14.  Daniel B. Hedderick, Project Forester, Allegany Project Maryland Forest Service

The ranges in fall color from year to year depending on a combination of temperature, precipitation, and sunlight. Healthy doses of rain during the summer, coupled with a string of sunny days and grab-an-extra-blanket nights, have revealed a breathtaking show of color this year.

Plants use the process of photosynthesis to transform water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide into oxygen and simple sugars that the plant uses as fuel. With an influx of water and sunlight, a leaf produces an abundance of sugar, which in turn spurs the production of pigments that tint the leaf brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange. As the temperature dips, cooler nights gradually close the veins of the leaves, preventing these sugars and, yes, magical colors from exiting. 

Western Maryland

A delicate layer of snow fell in Garrett County, but the yellows of hickory and the golden to russet hues of oaks are still visible, making what could be their final curtain call on the fall stage. Most of the once-vibrant maple leaves are now on the ground, guiding visitors along a jewel-toned path. Melissa Nash, Forester – Garrett Project Manager

Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks

Visitors to the Catoctin mountains will not be disappointed, as fall bursts at the seams here with a rapidly changing landscape. Bright red sugar maples, golden poplars and hickories illuminate the mountainside. Mark Spurrier, Park Manager – Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks

Fort Frederick State Park

Along the Maryland-West Virginia border, the maples are at their peak, producing a spectacular array of red, gold, and orange, and their forest neighbors are getting closer by the day. Bob Study, Park Ranger Supervisor – Fort Frederick State Park

Southern Maryland

Southern Maryland counties exhibit a rainbow of fall colors, from warm amber to sparkling ruby red. Our deciduous species are slowly losing their leaves in preparation for dormancy. These leaves contain our pollinators for next year, and using them in a thin layer of mulch will keep your tree roots warm and healthy. Cristina V. Perez, Tree Planting Specialist 

Eastern Maryland

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park

We’re starting to see fall colors mixing in with the pine trees, and the views are far-reaching now that most of the Maryland corn crop has been harvested. Bald cypress, red oaks, and goldenrod are putting on a great show this week in Tubman Country. Dana Paterra, Park Manager – Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park

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!

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