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Maryland Fall Foliage Report: October 8, 2020

Map of Maryland showing western Maryland reaching peak fall foliage

Welcome to the Fall Foliage Report for October 8, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The western corner of Maryland is seeing peak foliage setting in, headlined by the vivid yellows, reds, and oranges of maple leaves. Elsewhere, Maryland forests are exhibiting scattered spots of color, with the real fall showing yet to come!

Potomac-Garrett State Forest, photos by Scott Campbell

Potomac-Garrett State Forest, photos by Scott Campbell

Dry Run Road in Savage River State Forest

Dry Run Road in Savage River State Forest, photo by Sean Nolan

Sean Nolan, forest manager, Savage River State Forest, reports: 

“We have seen a noticeable difference since last week here at the state forest. Many of the sugar maples are now showing full yellow crowns and the red maples are showing various shades of red and orange. Most of the birch and beech trees are now in full color while the blackgum and sassafras that changed early, are starting to fade and drop. No change yet in the oaks as they are the last to turn.  As you can imagine, the colors are certainly further along as you rise in elevation. Keyser’s Ridge is further along than Meadow Mountain, which is showing more color than the lower elevations around the reservoir and Savage River.”

Garrett County maple tree

Garrett County maple tree, photo by Becky Wilson

Becky Wilson, Western Region coordinator for Urban and Community Forestry, tells us:

“The species that turn early in the season, especially the sugar and red maples, still have a good bit of color, although the recent rain did contribute to some leaf drop. The golden cloaks on the American chestnut and hickories are beginning to emerge. The oaks have yet to join in the show so still plenty of time left in the fall foliage season. There are many spectacular places to explore in our state forest, parks, and wildlife management areas but don’t forget a stroll or drive through the local parks, historic streets, and cemeteries of our small towns. The urban forest also has plenty to offer to delight the eye! You may be treated to the spectacular orange of a solo sugar maple, vibrant yellow on a hickory or poplar, or the bronze hues of a stately white oak.”

Julia Musselwhite, Rocky Gap State Park, Allegany County, says:

“There is no significant change this week from last. I feel we still have another week or two before Allegany County could be officially listed as peak.”

Allegany County Landscape

Allegany County Landscape, photo by Dan Hedderick

Daniel B. Hedderick, Forest Service project forester based in Flintstone, says:

“Fall foliage in the Ridge and Valley Province of Maryland’s Allegany County changes from ridge to ridge. Ridges near Green Ridge State Forest have lots of color. Other ridges in the central portion of the County will need more time. That said, larger landscapes are starting to show colors. Sites range from 5 percent change to 30 percent change depending on your location along the interstate. It’s a great time to enjoy some country rides and it can only get better in the weeks to come! “




Tonoloway Ridge, Washington County

Tonoloway Ridge in Washington County, photo by Aaron Cook

Lion's mane

Lion’s mane, photo by Aaron Cook

Aaron Cook, forester, Clear Spring, says:

“The rapid fall color transition slowed somewhat this week; many of the vibrant colors from the past week have dulled to a golden brown, or the leaves have fallen and are now replenishing the soil. The ridges remain in a slow transition from green to autumn colors. Despite the slow change in the landscape, individual pockets of color await those who explore the roads in Washington County. The best areas for fall color seem to center around Cascade to Smithsburg, although a drive to any wooded area is sure to bring some fall scenery. The best is yet to come here in Washington County! Despite the dry conditions, some edible fall mushrooms are still waiting to be found … (including) lion’s mane, which makes a great ‘crab cake’ as it tastes like crab or lobster. “


Frederick County Photo Collage

Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks, and Sugarmaple tree, photos by Mark Spurrier and Melissa Carson

According to Mark Spurrier, park manager, Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks:

“Fall is in the air. Colors are changing but are not very crisp due to a dry summer and fall. I would expect hickories to begin to turn things gold very soon. “

And from Melissa Carson, park services associate, Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks:

“The best time to see the leaves is at ‘Golden Hour’ before sunset, where the setting sun casts an orange glow to the brightly colored trees. I never realized how beautiful ash trees are when they change, which is a sad realization considering their rapid decline due to the invading emerald ash borer.”

Orange Grove Area, Patapsco Valley State Park

Orange Grove Area, Patapsco Valley State Park, photo by Felicia Graves

Ranger Felicia M. Graves, Patapsco Valley State Park, says:

“The leaves are just beginning to change here and it’s a great prelude to the beginning of the season. Happy fall!”

Frank M. Lopez, Harford/Cecil project manager, Maryland Forest Service, reports:

“In Harford County, sugar maple is peaking. Flowering dogwood’s about halfway red. Yellow-poplar has small groups of leaves just starting to turn yellow.”

Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area

Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area, photo by Diana Marsteller

Ranger Diana Marsteller, Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area, says:

“We are only in the first week of October, but already beginning to see our fall colors here at Fair Hill. The green maple leaves are transforming to beautiful shades of red, while our tulip poplar canopies show striking shades of yellow. With the crisp temperatures and dry weather, now is a wonderful time to head out and enjoy our trails.”

Clopper Lake in Seneca Creek State Park

Ranger Shelby Smith enjoying fall foliage at Clopper Lake.

Elsewhere is Cecil County, Ranger Shawna Staup tells us:

Elk Neck State Park is still in the beginning stages of color changes for the fall. We have a tree here and there that is showing signs of fall, but nothing worthy of a photo yet; most of the forest here is still green.”

Ranger Shelby Smith, Seneca Creek State Park, reports:

“While a majority of the trees are still green, we are seeing some transition with little pops of golden yellow and cinnamon surrounding Clopper Lake. A great picturesque view by boat is even better!”

And finally, join us for Maryland’s first ever Walktober, a month where partnering agencies are promoting and spotlighting Maryland’s official exercise – walking. Take in the fall foliage with a walk outside! 

Enjoy your Maryland Weekend!

Photos of sugar maple


“Every physical sense is given a treat today.
The feast of brilliant colors to the eye as if the sun is luminescing from inside the leaves;
the smells of the decomposing leaves and wisps of smoke from chimneys;
the sound of leaves bouncing their way through the canopies on a sudden wisp of wind
that also touches lightly on your cheek, the crunching of dried leaves underfoot;
the chill autumn air. Pure nourishment for the soul!” 

– Becky Wilson