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MD Fall Foliage: Peak Leaf Color In Western County, More Changing

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MARYLAND — Leaves in far western Garrett County are at peak color, with four others nearing peak vibrancy, while colors have just begun to change colors across much of Maryland, from Cecil County to St. Mary’s and Montgomery to Talbot County.

So far, 19 counties plus the city of Baltimore are showing anywhere from peak color to changing hues, but four Eastern Shore counties have yet to begin their shift to colors, according to Thursday’s fall foliage report from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

“Here we are, mid-October, and reports indicate that the leaves are dropping quickly. With wet conditions the past few days and some wind in the forecast for the weekend, we may see significant leaf loss through the next week,” the DNR said. “Fall seems to have taken hold across the state with the west near or at peak foliage and areas east slowly following suit. Most of the Eastern Shore has yet to substantially change, but we see signs that will change soon.”

Cooler evenings and crisp mornings bring a change in the leaves.

This year the DNR is asking Maryland’s outdoor enthusiasts to send in photos capturing the beauty of the fall season. Use the submission form to submit your entries directly to the DNR; it might appear in a future edition of the fall foliage report.

In Maryland, the week of Oct. 25 looks good for a fall leaf viewing trip.

No predictive tool is 100 percent accurate, but using the interactive Fall Foliage Prediction Map can give you a pretty good shot at seeing autumn leaves when they turn their most striking colors.

Some of the top places to see fall leaves in Maryland to consider:

Adkins Arboretum

With its combo of woodlands, wetlands, and meadows, Adkins Arboretum in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore is a magical place to explore. Across its 400 acres, this garden features more than 600 species of plants, ranging from trees and shrubs to wildflowers and grasses.

You can explore all the sights by trekking along the five miles of paths through the grounds of the arboretum. Along the way, you’ll see the mature hardwoods dressed in their fall colors standing amongst the young pines. Watch for birds and wildlife, including beavers, deer, and foxes. Once you’re done, visit the plant sale area to fill your own yard with all your favorite colors.

Turkey Point Lighthouse

Set atop a 100-foot bluff, the Turkey Point Lighthouse in Cecil County puts you way up in the sky where you can get a 360 view of the Chesapeake Bay and all the fall colors across the surrounding landscape. As you take the two-mile trek up to the lighthouse, you’ll get to experience the beauty of Elk Neck State Park while enjoying the breeze from the bay.

Once you reach the lighthouse, take a moment to admire the black walnut tree alongside, which turns a vibrant yellow-orange in the fall months. After you’re done viewing the sights, consider enjoying a picnic lunch under the walnut tree before finishing the hike back to your car.

Patapsco Valley State Park

Stretching 32 miles along the Patapsco River in Baltimore and Howard counties, Patapsco Valley State Park offers some of the best autumn scenery in Maryland. To explore it all, you’ll want to select from their 200 miles of trails rated for beginner to advanced hikers.

The fall colors are in full display along the riverbanks, as well, if you prefer to fish for trout while enjoying the view. The way the golden colors of the huge tulip poplars reflect off the water will undoubtedly leave you breathless. The amber sycamores, orange beech trees, and red oaks look phenomenal as well, especially as a light breeze sends their rainbow of leaves fluttering.

Our state offers some stunning vistas, including several in state parks suggested by Visit Maryland:

  • The C&O Canal National Historic Park offers numerous hiking options, such as the strenuous Billy Goat Trail for advanced hikers. The trail rewards hikers with vistas of the surging Potomac River flanked by forests bursting with color.
  • Elk Neck State Park located on a peninsula between the Chesapeake Bay and the Elk River combines colorful forests with sandy beaches for great viewing. From the Turkey Point parking lot off Route 272 South, it’s an easy one-mile walk to the historic 1833 Turkey Point Lighthouse atop a 100-foot bluff at the southern tip of the Elk Neck Peninsula. Climb 35 feet to its top for a spectacular view of the Bay waters and brilliant fall foliage.
  • Patapsco Valley State Park also offers great fall foliage views from the comfort of your car if that’s a better fit for you. Drive to Valley Overlook in the Hollofield area right off Route 40. From there you can venture into Ellicott City’s Main Street, which has shops and restaurants open in its historic district.
  • In the heart of Baltimore County’s horse country, Oregon Ridge Park near Cockeysville has hiking trails that showcase a tree-scape of yellow, orange and red.
  • Swallow Falls State Park in Garrett County is located nine miles north of Oakland and contains part of the Youghiogheny River, which flows along the park’s borders, passing through shaded rocky gorges and creating rippling rapids, and Muddy Creek Falls, a 53-foot waterfall. The 1 1/4 mile trail through Swallow Falls guides hikers to Western Maryland’s breath-taking scenery.
  • Other areas to visit close to the Baltimore-Washington metro area: Gwynnbrook Wildlife Management Area in Owings Mills, Baltimore County; Sugar Loaf Mountain Natural Resource Area in southern Frederick County; Seneca Creek State Park just southwest of Gaithersburg; and Di
    erssen Wildlife Management Area situated between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River in Montgomery County, offering first-rate opportunities for waterfowl watching and quiet interludes for strollers along the Canal Tow Path.

To use the map, simply slide the scale to the right to see when leaves will peak in your state. Zero in on your county, and you’ll be able to decide whether it’s best to plan a northern, southern, eastern or western route.

Map courtesy of SmokyMountains.com

The tool has developed as a fall vacation planning essential. Last year alone, it received more than 5 million views on SmokyMountains.com and about 30 million more on the news websites, including Patch.

Be the first to know what’s happening in your community and region. With a free Patch subscription, you’ll always be up to date on local and state news: https://patch.com/subscribe.

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