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Fall Foliage and Festival Report Oct. 5-6, 2019

Fall Foliage and Festivals

Welcome to the Fall Foliage and Festival Report for Oct. 5 and 6, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

True fall weather is on the way! Garrett County is anticipating nighttime temperatures dipping into the 3os this weekend, reports Melissa Nash, forester and project manager. With the change in temperature comes the beginning of peak season in parts of Maryland.

“Cool nights and sunny days typically bring out the best color,“ Nash explains. “Some areas of Garrett County, especially around Meadow Mountain (near the Eastern Continental Divide), are expected to peak within the next couple of days.” She reports vibrant yellows to oranges and reds on maple, and yellow color on birch and hickory as most notable. Oaks should begin to change soon with white oak producing deep reds to purplish tones and red oaks golden brown.

Monroe Overlook, photo by Melissa Nash

The Monroe Run overlook along New Germany Road within the Savage River Watershed. Photo by Melissa Nash

The best place to see the best color is along Route 495 and New Germany Roads. The Monroe Run scenic overlook in Savage River State Forest along New Germany Road is a great place to stop and enjoy the view. Other areas of the county are a little further behind, but should peak in the next week to week and a half — just in time for the Autumn Glory Festival held Oct.9-13 at various locations throughout Garrett County. 

A few trees around the shoreline of Deep Creek Lake are in full color. “An early morning paddle, especially in the minimum wake coves, offers a mirror like reflection on the calm water. While the shoreline color is not as far along as the mountaintops this week, the ripples from a canoe or kayak paddle offer a value-added visual effect,” says Ranger Roy Musselwhite, manager of Deep Creek Lake State Park.

Potomac Garrett State Forest, photo by Scott Campbell

Potomac Garrett State Forest, photo by Scott Campbell

Forester Scott Campbell was pleased that after some much needed rain on Potomac-Garrett State Forest, the colors began to appear. “Most notable were the maples, birch and sassafras.”

This weekend would be a great time to drive “The Loop,” a tried-and-true leaf peeper tour. Head west from Cumberland along Route 40 out to Keysers Ridge, then south along 219 through McHenry and Thayerville in the vicinity of Deep Creek Lake State Park. Given time, add side trips to either Herrington Manor or Swallow Falls state parks.

From Oakland, turn east along Route 135 and plan an afternoon in Savage River State Forest. Particular points of interest in this area are Big Run State Park or further north, the Monroe Run Vista off of New Germany Road near New Germany State Park. These spots are guaranteed to delight foliage fanatics the next few weeks.

Along Rte 144 in Allegany County, photo by Dan Hedderick

Along Route 144 in Allegany County, photo by Dan Hedderick

After crossing back into Allegany County, turn north on 220 near McCoole, wind through Dans Mountain Wildlife Management Area, and head back toward Cumberland. Or turn off onto a quiet country road and surprise yourself with more breathtaking, unspoiled panoramas.

“After a few weeks of very hot and dry conditions the changing colors around Rocky Gap had begun to appear dull,” says Rocky Gap State Park Ranger Melissa Musselwhite. “However, due to cooler temperatures and rain early this week, we are quite hopeful that the leaves will really pop by the weekend. The forecast is looking like perfect fall conditions to camp, hike and paddle around Lake Habeeb.”

Sideling Hill, photo by Aaron Cook

Sideling Hill, photo by Aaron Cook

Aaron Cook, forester based in Clear Spring, tells us that western Washington County is starting to look like autumn with hickory yellowing in places or just turning brown. “Sugar maple also is really starting to change. While the warm spell slowed the change, the cooler temperatures that follow should get things going again.”

Ranger Mark Spurrier, manager at Cunningham Falls and Gambrill state parks, reports slight color changes with leaves browning quickly in Frederick County and Ranger Mary Ironside, park manager for the South Mountain Recreation Area, notes only some small patches of leaf change.

“Everything is still pretty green here at Patapsco Valley State Park. Leaves are falling, but there’s no significant change in the colors just yet,” writes Ranger Felicia M. Graves.

Red Maple in Elk Neck State Park, photo by Abby Matta

Red Maple in Elk Neck State Park, photo by Abby Matta

Green is still the dominant color for leaves at Elk Neck State Park in Cecil County, but yellows and brown, with the occasional orange and red, are visible, observes Park Naturalist Abby Matta. There is a fair amount of pawpaws who have dropping leaves as well, she says. A tornado that ripped through the park back in June was stressful not only for the staff but also for the vegetation — Matta expects the area around Maudlin Mountain and Wapiti Pond will probably lack in color. “However the trees in the campground and Turkey Point are strong and vibrant colors are beginning to explode.”

“In Calvert County the gums, poplars and beeches have started to turn and are showing some good colors,” says Brian Stupak, Maryland Forest Service project manager. “The maples have just started to turn as well as a few oaks, but most of them are still green.” He added that rain is needed to slow down the early leaf drop.

Sign up to receive weekly reports showcasing the Old Line State’s vibrant fall foliage and the best autumn festivals at dnr.maryland.gov.

Tractor display at the Frederick Harvest Festival

Tractor display at the Frederick Harvest Festival

Discover agriculture’s role in history and daily life at the Frederick County Farm Museum Association’s Fall Festival Weekend from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Come out to Rose Hill Manor and enjoy home-style food, music, craft vendors, hayrides, tractor pull, and more! Carnival activities and children’s crafts on both days and a cake auction on Sunday.

Join our master naturalist at the Manor Area Visitor Center in Cunningham Falls State Park to help collect and plant native seeds and remove invasive plants. Bring work gloves, water and a snack. Adult participation and supervision required for children under the age of 12. Details are available online.

Brunswick Railroad Days from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. is a unique weekend festival that celebrates this Frederick County city’s railroad heritage as one of the largest rail yards in the nation. Visit the Brunswick Railroad Museum, enjoy entertainment, food and, of course, trains.

Reenactors at Time Line Weekend at Point Lookout State Park

Reenactors at Time Line Weekend at Point Lookout State Park

Southern Maryland has two exciting family-friendly events scheduled for this weekend. Point Lookout State Park invites visitors to its annual Soldiers Timeline Weekend. Costumed interpreters representing the time periods of the French and Indian War, American Revolution, The War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War II will present displays showing how those conflicts affected Point Lookout and St. Mary’s County. The program will also include small arms and artillery firing demonstrations and tours of the parks’ historic Civil War sites.

The Blessing of the Fleet commemorates the time-honored tradition of blessing the Southern Maryland watermen’s fleet of boats. This celebratory family weekend event includes tours of St. Clements Island State Park, Blackistone Lighthouse and St. Clement’s Island Museum, live entertainment, free boat excursions, Southern Maryland food, local wine tastings, children’s activities, fireworks and more much. Why not try to fit in both of these events this weekend and send us your stories and photos? 

In north central Maryland, the Darlington Apple Festival celebrates all things “apple”, offering entertainment, art, country market, refreshments, and much more on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. So, come out to northern Harford County and “get your apple on.” 

Or, tour the Graham Equestrian Center facility this Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Horse Discovery Day. Pet a pony and meet with a staff member to find out what Graham is all about! Rain or shine! This is a family-friendly, all-ages event. Bring a picnic lunch and relax, or hike the endless trails, while enjoying our home, the Gunpowder Falls State Park! Leashed dogs welcome. 

On Saturday from 8 – 10 p.m. join the Westminster Astronomical Club at the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area in Owings Mills for a look at the stars! Telescopes will be provided.

On Sunday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. bring the family to Howard County Conservancy’s Fall Festival in Woodstock. Watch blacksmiths hammering iron in their shop, listen to blue grass music and explore the historic three-century-old farm, complete with many visiting farm animals. There are children’s crafts, pumpkin decorating and hayrides, hay bale leaps and more. Admission is $10 per car.

Closer to the Capital area, celebrate the fall harvest this weekend at the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve’s Heritage Harvest Festival. Visit a variety of farms with fun family activities including farm tours, markets, crafts for kids, farm animals, historic structures, and food for sale 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. each day.

Bowie International Festival

Bowie International Festival

Taste of Bethesda returns to Montgomery County on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. showcasing nearly 60 restaurants, five stages with music and cultural entertainment, plus a fun kid’s corner. Best of all, admission is free.

Nearby in Prince George’s County, you can travel around the world in a day on Saturday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Enjoy international foods, music, dance performers, international bands and more at the the Bowie International Festival. Free admission and children’s activities at Allen Pond Park make this a winner. 

Join a Seneca Creek State Park naturalist on a Fall Scavenger Hunt on Saturday from 11 a.m. – noon to see what can be found in the park during this beautiful season or come out Sunday afternoon from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. for an Autumn Pontoon Tour on Clopper Lake in Gaithersburg.

On Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. the Takoma Park Street Festival takes place on a half mile stretch of Carroll Avenue in Takoma Park to Carroll Street NW in DC, with more than 200 artisans, community groups, children’s activities, food vendors, and a variety of green companies. The festival has three stages that host 18 popular, local bands performing music from indie folk, rock, blues, country, reggae, and everything in between. Free admission! Kids also love this festival with its crafts, face painting, inflatables and more! Rain or shine.

On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, enjoy ARToberFEST in Historic Stevensville on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Celebrate local food, music, artisans and breweries. The popular event is set in Stevensville on Love Point Road, the perfect backdrop for a day full of art and music.

Small boats in the water at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival

Small boats in the water at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival

On Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum will host one of the nation’s largest gatherings of small boat enthusiasts and unique watercraft at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival XXXVI. Sailing skiffs, rowing shells, kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, prams, and one-of-a-kind boats will be on display and in the water throughout this family-oriented event. No pets allowed.

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

Looking ahead, it’s never too early to make plans to attend the Autumn Glory Festival in Oakland. The 52nd annual extravaganza will be held Oct. 9 – 13. Smokey Bear — celebrating his 75th birthday this year — and Sam Barnhart Jr.’s restored 1963 Maryland Forest Service brush truck will participate in the Firemen’s Parade the evening of Oct. 10. Parade starts at 7 p.m. Click here for this year’s brochure and watch for updates from the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce.

Enjoy this colorful and fun-filled October weekend Maryland!


“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”

― Humbert Wolfe


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