Fall Foliage Report – October 12, 2023
“If I were a bird, I would fly about the Earth seeking successive autumns.”
– George Eliot
We’re feeling a drop in temperatures across the state, with parts of Western Maryland dipping into the low 30s. Cooler temperatures and sunny days bode well for leaf change. According to the U.S. Forest Service, trees are continuing to produce sugars in their leaves, but the cool nights and the gradual closing of veins in leaves prevent these sugars from moving out. These conditions – lots of sugar and light – spur production of the brilliant anthocyanin pigments, which tint leaves with a variety of reds, purples, and crimson. However, optimal fall weather conditions cannot entirely undo the effects of this year’s summer drought, which is amounting to delays in leaf change and subdued color in the forest canopies.
A prime spot for fall leaf peepers, Monroe Run Overlook delights with endless views. Photo by Melissa Nash, Forester, Garrett/Allegany Project Manager.
Melissa Nash, Forester in Garrett and Allegany counties, reports, “I think we are still on track to peak at the end of this week, but I don’t think it’s going to result in dramatic color this year. We are still seeing more yellow and gold tones as opposed to vibrant oranges and reds. I do anticipate the cool temperatures (lows in the 30s/40s) will help transition some of the trees that are still green.”
A burst of amber fills the sky in Eastern Garrett County’s Finzel area. Photo by Melissa Nash.
Recent wind and rain results in a carpet of fall leaves on the forest floor in eastern Garrett County. Photo by Melissa Nash.
Sean Nolan, Forest Manager, at Savage River State Forest sees progress among the leaves in Northern Garrett County. “We’ve seen quite a change this week,” Nolan said. “The higher elevation areas are nearing peak, but recent rain and wind have brought many leaves down. The sugar and red maples are showing good colors, but the oaks are still very green.”
Gorgeous shades of orange and gold line the Bowman Hill and Keyser’s Ridge areas of Savage River State Forest. Photo by Wyatt Orner, Natural Resources Technician.
“The recent cold temperatures along with the rainy and windy conditions have coaxed a substantial number of leaves from the canopy, especially among red maples and sugar maples, with some trees already devoid of foliage. The black birch, sassafras, and black gum are displaying a wide spectrum of colors on Piney Mountain,” reports Scott Campbell, Forest Manager at Potomac-Garrett State Forest.
The fall transition is moving a little more slowly in Frederick where Bob Study, Park Ranger Supervisor, is seeing “mostly green with hints of gold and crimson just starting to peek through the treetops” at Fort Frederick State Park.
Photo by Bob Study, Park Ranger Supervisor, Fort Frederick State Park Complex.
View from the North Frederick Overlook with Frederick City to the east at Gambrill State Park. Photo by Mark Spurrier, State Park Ranger Manager, Cunningham Falls and Gambrill State Parks.
Shades of autumn are finally making their way into the central region of our state with hues of amber and gold slowly taking over vibrant greens in the landscape. “We’re definitely seeing more change this week at Rocks and Susquehanna state parks,” reports Dave Gigliotti, Administrative Specialist.
Trees illuminated with golden leaves greet visitors on their way to Rocks Ridge, Rocks State Park. Photo by Dave Gigliotti, Administrative Specialist, Rocks and Susquehanna State Parks.
Leaves the color of rubies adorn this dogwood tree in Susquehanna State Park. Photo by Dave Gigliotti, Administrative Specialist, Rocks and Susquehanna State Parks.
“Still mostly green with a few more red tinged edges on leaves, some rusty shades in the oaks and yellows from the beeches,” reports Shin Ae, Seasonal Park Ranger at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area and Bohemia River State Park. Leaf change isn’t the only attraction drawing visitors to Fair Hill and Bohemia this year. Local trees are producing an overabundance of fruit, referred to as a mast year. “Everyone— from squirrels to rangers to park guests— has been busy enjoying what’s falling from the trees,” said Ae.
Pops of yellow begin to fill the canopy along the rock formation at the Sunken Bridge crossing of Big Elk Creek. Photo by Shin Ae Gonzalez, Seasonal Park Ranger.
A few shades of scarlet make their presence known near the Old Smokehouse at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area. Photo by Shin Ae Gonzalez, Seasonal Park Ranger.
Always a latecomer to the fall party, the southern region of our state is still full of verdant green as summer takes its final bow. Chase Kolstrom, Project Forester, reports from Hollywood this week, noting specific tree species are beginning to show signs of fall, while others have yet to begin the transition: “The only significant color change seems to be in the maples but with consistently cooler temperatures, I expect more changes in the coming weeks.”
No sign of fall in the leaves of this swamp chestnut oak in St. Mary’s County. Photo by Chase Kolstrom, Project Forester.
A silver maple in St. Mary’s County begins its fall transition. Photo by Chase Kolstrom, Project Forester.
Photos Sent in by Our Readers
Photo by Wayne W., Frederick County
Photo by Cate C., Garrett County
Photo by Cate C., Garrett County
Photo by Cate C., Garrett County
Fall Recreation Spotlight
Our friends at the Maryland Office of Tourism encourage leaf peepers and other visitors to attend the annual Autumn Glory Festival, a five-day celebration that takes place this week in Oakland, voted one of the best small towns to see fall foliage by Travel and Leisure. Running through Sunday, October 15, visitors will enjoy fall foliage driving tours, craft and antique markets, a car show, carnival and much more. Don’t miss the pinnacle of the event – the 56th Annual Autumn Glory Grand Feature Parade – on Saturday October 15. For a full listing of events and more information check out the Autumn Glory Festival guidebook.
Watch the Sky
It’s an exciting time for skywatchers as the “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse takes place on Saturday, October 14. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes over the sun, partially or completely blocking the sun’s rays. Although Maryland residents will only be able to see a partial eclipse, 30-40% depending on your location, it’s still an incredible sight – just remember to protect your eyes. Even viewing a partial eclipse requires some form of eye protection; it is never safe to look directly at the sun.