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Fall Foliage and Festival Report: October 14-15

Maryland map marking events with leavesWelcome to the Fall Foliage and Festival Report for the weekend of Oct. 14 and 15, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Maryland Office of Tourism.

Garrett County’s biggest event of the year, the Autumn Glory Festival, is underway in Oakland and other locations throughout the county. Highlights of the festival include the Maryland State Banjo and Fiddle Championships, Tall Tale Storytelling and Book Festival, Western Maryland Tournament of Bands, parades, a 5K Run, and an authentic Oktoberfest celebration.

Swallow Falls, photo by Stephen Badger

Swallow Falls, photo by Stephen Badger

For those heading out to the event, the fall foliage will certainly not disappoint! Reports from the region indicate leaf change has really picked up in Garrett County, moving rapidly towards peak with lots of yellow and orange showing. Recent rain did bring a lot of leaves down over the past weekend. Red and sugar maples and hickory species, with their colorful pinkish orange and yellow foliage, are looking pretty good in the county at Big Run State Park, along New Germany Road to Grantsville and east along I-68 to Frostburg. In Allegany County good color change can easily be seen on ridges near and far.

If you’ll be in the area of Swallow Falls State Park, take a hike out to Muddy Creek Falls – Maryland’s largest single-drop waterfall – where the brilliant colors really pop out in the shaded gorges along the Youghiogheny River, complimented by the grandeur of the park’s magnificent stands of hemlocks.

Nearby Herrington Manor State Park is located within the 7,000-acre Garrett State Forest. Consider a side trip to the Kindness Demonstration Area featuring a 1.25-mile self-guided hiking trail through 387 acres of spectacular forestland, complete with information about how our state foresters manage Western Maryland’s precious forest resources.

In New Germany State Park near Grantsville, nestled between the 2,900-foot Big Savage Mountain to the east and the eastern Continental Divide along Meadow Mountain to the west, the autumn foliage is reflected in the park’s 13-acre lake and prominently displayed along more than 10 miles of trails.

In the Middletown Valley area of Frederick County those leaves that are starting to change are quite brilliant.  The yellows and reds are just beginning their fall fashion show in Carroll County, where a favorite trip for many is along Parr’s Ridge, on Route 27, from the Dug Hill area in Manchester through Westminster to Mount Airy.

In Montgomery County, tulip poplars have started to show good color, with ash, oak and hickory species just starting to turn, while nearby the river birches have started yellowing in Columbia, Howard County.

To the northeast, Cecil County reports no significant change in color, with accelerated leaf fall due to heavy rains and high winds. Some red maples are just beginning to turn, but due to the unseasonably warm temperatures and very dry conditions, changes in foliage are slow to come in the Piedmont Area and Lower Coastal Plain. To the southeast, near Assateague Island everything is still pretty green.

Enjoy vivid fall colors on Saturday while peddling along the Western Maryland Rail Trail Guided Bike Tour, which takes place 10 a.m. to noon. Learn about the exploration and expansion of Western Maryland along the former Western Maryland Railway corridor. The tour is a leisurely-paced 22 miles long. Join the fun at the C&O Bicycle Shop in Hancock at 10 a.m.

In Frederick County, the Great Pumpkin Patch event will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday in Mt. Airy. The $5 per person (cash only) pass entitles you to hours of hayrides, moon bounces, face painting, pony rides, pumpkin decorating and a spin along the Trick-or-Treat Trail to meet and greet favorite cartoon, superhero and movie characters – so don’t forget to bring along your best candy-collecting bag!


The Middle Road, photo by Amy Morrison

On Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Montgomery County, the Bethesda Row Arts Festival is one of the leading fine art and craft festivals in the mid-Atlantic. This is a visual feast of fine arts and crafts from 190 museum quality artists and admission is free.

While the foliage in the central region is just starting to change color, Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. is a great time to join the Westminster Oyster Stroll  in Carroll County. This free event is designed to raise awareness about and benefit Chesapeake farmed-raised oyster aquaculture. Learn how a local community is working to restore wild oysters back into the bay while creating new oyster reefs from recycled oyster shell and concrete reef balls.

Marilyn Little of Frederick MD riding RF Scandalous, photo by Shannon Brinkman

Marilyn Little of Frederick MD riding RF Scandalous, photo by Shannon Brinkman

Cecil County is the site of The Fair Hill International October Festival and CCI. A showcase of world-class horse sport, these eventing and combined driving competitions feature Olympic-caliber athletes taking on daunting courses with impressive speed and accuracy. The festival also features dog agility trials, Pony Club games, kids’ corner, live music, miniature horse demonstrations, exhibits, a trade fair and more. Events take place Thursday through Sunday at the Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area.

Also in Cecil County, Elk Neck State Park will hold a Hawk Watch on Sunday 10 a.m. to noon. Look high in the sky at Turkey Point and you will see migrating hawks and falcons. Join Turkey Point Hawk Watch and Cecil County Birding Club (and animals from the Scales & Tales program) to learn how to identify  birds of prey. Call 410-287-5333 to make a reservation.

For the seafood lover, Kent County is home to an event established to pay homage to the almighty oyster, the Rock Hall Fallfest. Join the fun on Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Best of all, it’s a day for free family fun with a Kids Kourt, music, and crafts at the top of the Bay.

Although the leaves haven’t even started to turn over on the Eastern Shore, it’s still going to be a beautiful weekend to make the trip to the annual Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo on Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art down in Salisbury. The crisp, clear fall air and beautiful grounds of the museum will once again set the stage for a day of excitement, anticipation, and socialization among decoy collectors and carvers from across the country. Admission to the event and museum is free!

If you’re planning a get-away this weekend, keep in mind that park cabins are still available for the fall season. You can reserve one by calling 888-432-CAMP (2267) or make your reservation online.

For more information or to see a full listing of Maryland Department of Natural Resources events and programs, please check out our new interactive calendar. For more information on events around the state, please visit the Maryland Office of Tourism.

Enjoy your Maryland weekend!

“The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.”-  Emily Dickinson
Let’s Make an Acorn Necklace

Illustration of acorns
Oaks all across the state are dropping their acorns. Take a trip out to your backyard or to a local park and see if you can collect some acorns with their caps still on. Bring the acorns home and let your kid’s imaginations soar! Learn more…