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Fall Foliage and Festival Report: Oct. 27-28, 2018

Welcome to the Fall Foliage and Festival Report for the weekend of Oct. 27 and 28, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Blairs Valley and Sword Mountain Ridge in Clear Spring, photo by Aaron Cook

Sword Mountain Ridge

Well, this is the weekend for ghosts, goblins and other fright-worthy tricks and treats, and there are tons of Halloween-themed events scheduled! For leaf peepers though it is more trick than treat this fall as a result of an unusually wet summer followed by an extremely warm fall in Maryland and the region. 

Garrett County Forester Melissa Nash believes we need to add another color to our fall foliage map, white, since snow fell there this past weekend.

“Things remain pretty drab here in Washington County. In Clear Spring, Sword Mountain ridge is best described as rusty green. The majority of our ridges are dominated by various oak species, and unfortunately the oaks are mostly browning with their leaves falling still partially green,” says Aaron Cook, forester.

Greenbrier State Park Ranger Mary Jo Bartles adds, “For the most part our leaves are still green with just the slightest hint of color. The maples and other early-changing trees are either dropping without changing or have remain quite muted; definitely not the vibrant colors we usually see.” In Frederick County, Park Ranger Jacob Doyle noted, “We are just starting to see some change at Cunningham Falls State Park.”

Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area

Fair Hill

Reports from central Maryland are somewhat more encouraging. The gorgeous scenery of Seneca Creek State Park is in the early stage of fall color change. Several of the iconic poplar trees are still standing tall bearing full canopies of ever-changing colored leaves. Kingfisher Overlook provides a great view of Clopper Lake and a forest of greens, yellows and reds.

Further north in Cecil County, Park Ranger Diana Marsteller says the Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area does have a few trees with vibrant reds and yellows (mostly maples and sassafras), but that fall is still a great time to visit the park. “Our forests are full of wildlife scurrying about preparing for winter!”

Elk Neck State Park

Elk Neck

“The leaves in Elk Neck State Park are really beginning to change!,” Naturalist Lara Lopole reports. “I believe we are at about 30 percent this week. The dogwoods are changing to a deep red and some of the maples to a bright yellow. Some trees like the sycamores are simply dropping their leaves with no color change or variation.”

“We’re just starting to see changes in Anne Arundel County,” says Forester Justin Arseneault. “Some species, like the flowering dogwood have already changed, but the majority of our species are still green and just starting to yellow.”

On the Eastern Shore leaves are also just beginning to turn.

“We are just starting to see splashes of color at Tuckahoe State Park,” says Park Ranger Jessica Conley. And same is true at Pocomoke River State Park where the fall colors are just starting to peek through, says Park Manager Cineva Smith.

Washington County is in the spotlight this Saturday. The largest nighttime parade on the East Coast, the Alsatia Mummers Parade, starts at 6 p.m. in Hagerstown. This is a lavish event with bands, floats and mummers in outrageous feathered garb. Further west history is all fun and games at Fort Frederick State Park as they host “A Pleasant Diversion.” Experience the lighter side of the French and Indian War. Members of the recreated Joshua and Alexander Beall’s Company and Maryland Militia will bring the fort to life with period activities and games. Highlights include cricket, fencing, foot races, a colonial-era fashion show and making of Jack-o-lanterns. 

In Cecil County, Mount Harmon in Earlville is hosting a National Revolutionary War Re-enactment & Colonial Festival. Featuring over 500 reenactors, this is the largest Revolutionary War reenactment in the country! Each day will feature colonial merchants, military skirmishes and battles, tactical demonstrations and drills, and of course a full-fledged encampment of both British Loyalists and American Patriots.

In Southern Maryland, “Invasion! The War of 1812” will be held at Point Lookout State Park in St. Mary’s County. Learn how Point Lookout was involved in the war as a target of British raids. Experience American and British camps, period weapon demonstrations, drills and other living history programs.

Downrigging in Chestertown

Downrigging in Chestertown

On the Eastern Shore, Downrigging Weekend Tall Ship and Wooden Boat Festival marks the end of the schooner Sultana’s sailing season. This annual Kent County tradition celebrates Maryland’s maritime culture and heritage, and everything that makes the Chesapeake Bay great. From Friday afternoon through Sunday evening, enjoy a waterfront packed with ships, schooners and wooden boats; musical performances, and go sailing as part of a fleet of “Tall Ships.”

And of course, Halloween is being celebrated throughout the state.

In Carroll County it will be a spooky Saturday at the Downtown Westminster Halloween Party and Parade complete with “Trick-or-Treating”, crafts, games, and a Haunted House and Ghost Tour. Capping off the evening is the American Legion Halloween Parade.

In Baltimore County the Annual Cockeysville Fall Festival at the Cranbrook Shopping Center this Saturday features live music, food, beer and wine, climbing walls, a magic show, pumpkin patch, vendors, games, raffles, silent auction and much more. Free admission! We’re Going Batty at the Hilton Nature Center in Patapsco Valley State Park Saturday. Meet a naturalist and discover the impact bats have on our environment. Explore nearby habitat, discuss ways we can improve our backyards, and finish with a bat craft.

Clopper Lake, Seneca Creek State Park, photo by Dave Powell

Seneca Creek

On Saturday evening come enjoy some family-oriented pumpkin carving at Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area. Bring your own pumpkin; all other supplies will be provided. For a change of pace Sunday, join volunteer ranger and mining historian Johnny Johnsson on a two-mile Mining History Hike to the historic Choate chromium mine in Soldiers Delight. This program is family-friendly. Please call 410-461-5005 for more information and to register.

Montgomery County really knows how to celebrate the season. Twenty years ago this month, two young filmmakers made cinema history. “The Blair Witch Project” was a worldwide sensation, and is still one of the most profitable movies in history. Learn how this horror classic came to be filmed at Seneca Creek State Park during the Blair Witch Hike Saturday afternoon. Advance registration required. For a non-scary Saturday morning come to Candle making at the Cabin and learn how to make hand-dipped candles at the Grusendorf Log House.

Pocomoke River State Park photo by Christina Holden

Pocomoke River

On Saturday afternoon, Fall Frolic in Glen Echo Park is a popular Halloween-themed family event. Visitors of all ages are invited to explore the arts through hands-on crafts, Halloween activities, trick-or-treating and visiting open studios. Pick a pumpkin from the Pumpkin Patch and decorate it at one of our craft tables.

Just in time for Halloween, Boo! at the Barn, held at the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg Sunday features art activities, games, costume parade, trick-or-treating, photo opportunities and a showcase of live, spooky animal ambassadors provided by Echoes of Nature. This free family-friendly event is recommended for young children. Costumes are encouraged.

Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring is hosting a Silver Spring Crafts, Desserts and Sweets Sunday afternoon, a delectable excursion in the world of sweets and desserts! A kid’s costume parade, pumpkin decorating, storytelling, music and entertainment make this a fun family afternoon. Admission is free!

In Worcester County, celebrate Halloween at Pocomoke River State Park’s Trunk or Treat Fall Festival at Shad Landing Saturday. Enjoy a night of family-friendly programs including trick-or-treating, arts and crafts, games and more.

For more information or to see a full listing of Maryland Department of Natural Resources events, meetings and programs, please check out our online calendar.

Enjoy your weekend, Maryland! And as always, if you would like to share photos of your autumn adventures with us, please send them our way.

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”

― Nathaniel Hawthorne