Fall Foliage and Festival Report – Sept. 28-29, 2019

News Release, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Welcome to the Fall Foliage and Festival Report for Sept. 28 and 29, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

“As we officially welcome fall this week, the cool nights and sunny days are making for a beautiful start to a colorful display in Garrett County,” reports Melissa Nash, Garrett County forest project manager.  “Some areas, especially the ridge tops, are reaching the mid-point this week. The peak should be expected in 1-2 weeks for most of the county.”

Photo of kids painting pumpkins

Pumpkin harvesting and carving, scarecrow making, apple pressing, hayrides, Dutch oven cooking, and much more are coming to the Fall Festival at Friends Store in Sang Run State Park this Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Ranger Roy Musselwhite suggests that anyone planning to attend and coming from the east should not miss a drive along New Germany Road. “It’s one of the most colorful roads in the county right now. Several maple and hickory trees are kicking off the fall color season with bright red, yellow, and orange.” He says they really seem to “pop” when surrounded by trees with green leaves that are still a week or two from changing colors. 

Dan Hedderick, project forester based in Flintstone, recently drove across Allegany County noting that along Interstate 68 there is a 30% color change with various shades of yellow and patches of brown, and just a little touch of red in a few places.  “Dry conditions are bringing about leaf drop in all areas,” he says. 

Photo of Rocky Gap State Park Campground loop
Rocky Gap State Park campground loop, photo by Julia Musselwhite

“If September is any indication, then we are in store for a beautiful array of colors this season,” says Rocky Gap State Park Assistant Manager Julia Musselwhite. “The leaves have already begun to change and fall and the best place to feel immersed in the change of seasons is in our campground.  Warm days and chilly nights make the perfect setting for outdoor adventures and cozy nights by the campfire.  Camping reservations are still accepted in some camp loops through the end of October.  Boat rentals and swimming areas are also available while the weather and water conditions remain pleasant. Call the park at 240-357-4404 for the most up-to-date information.

Aaron Cook, forester based in Clear Spring, reports that Washington County is experiencing a very dry late summer, in stark contrast to last season. “The stress created by dry weather correlates with premature leaf drop (and some color change) in many of the trees typically associated with early fall season color.” Aaron notes that walnuts, cherries, sycamores, sumacs, locust, grape, and Virginia creeper vines are all changing leaf color with almost immediate leaf drop.  “Many of the oaks along the summits are turning bronze or rust color, a trend that could result in peak foliage arriving sooner this fall, and without variation in typical autumn hues. The other nearby mountainsides are still in summer green.” Join us in welcoming Aaron safely back to Maryland, along with a 24-member Maryland crew that helped fight forest fires in California. 

“Not much happening here yet!” writes Ranger Mary Ironside, park manager of the South Mountain Recreation Area. “I am thinking a few more weeks for most of Washington County to go on the autumn stage. “

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


Photo of Frederick county Militia Reenactors at Fort Frederick State Park
Militia reenactors at Fort Frederick State Park

Come and join the Frederick County Militia for its annual muster. You can join up and engage in militia drills and learn about the roles of the militia and life during the French and Indian War at Fort Frederick State Park. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Park entrance fees apply.

The 45th Annual Smithsburg Steam Engine and Craft Show will be held Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Smithsburg Fire Hall grounds in Washington County. Steam and gas engines, antique tractors, and farm equipment, a working sawmill, a flea market, and food and craft vendors are among the highlights, with a parade at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

On Saturday from 10 a.m – 5 p.m., the Middletown Heritage Festival in Frederick County will hold its 35th celebration! The day starts with the Heritage Parade at 10 a.m. and continues with great food, music, historical events, children’s activities, and vendors of all kinds. 

Bring your family and friends to Tuckahoe’s Challenge Course  Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. for a Family Fun Day at Tuckahoe State Park. Enjoy the 40-ft. rock wall, tube net, zip line, 50-foot giant swing, and 25-foot pamper pole. For ages 7 and up who fit into a harness. Close-toed shoes and pre-registration required.

Round out your day on Saturday evening in Somerset County. Enjoy live music, fun, food, good people, and Plein Air painting on the shores of Chesapeake Bay during the Crisfield 4th Saturday Bay Stroll.

Photo collage of Kunta-Kinte Heritage Festival

Enjoy the rich heritage of Kunta Kinte whose story from the Gambia to Annapolis and for generations on down was told in the book “Roots: Saga of an American Family” by Alex Haley. The Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. is a family-friendly cultural festival celebrating the history and heritage of people of African American, African, and Caribbean descent. In its 30th year, the day includes live music, dance, ethnic foods and wares for sale.

Celebrate the fall migration of the monarch butterfly at Merkle Wildlife Natural Resources Management Area in Upper Marlboro on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Monarchs & Milkweed at Merkle – A Monarch Butterfly Festival activities include tagging and releasing monarchs, Scales & Tales display, hayrides and guided hikes, face painting and crafts. 

Photo of Point Lookout State Park Artillery Weekend
Point Lookout State Park Artillery Weekend

The Friends of Point Lookout are hosting The Artillery of Point Lookouta U.S. Civil War weekend, Saturday and Sunday at Point Lookout State Park in St. Mary’s County. Programs begin at 10 a.m. Artillery demonstrations, tours of Fort #3 and the prison pen site, and living history programs involving the military garrison of the fort along with civilian exhibits and impressions. Point Lookout State Park is a peninsula where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay, and the viewpoint from this strategic location made it a pivotal place during the Civil War.

Thirty talented artisans will be showing and selling their beautiful creations on the green in historic Washington Grove in Montgomery County on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Food trucks, a pumpkin patch, pumpkin painting, live music, a petting zoo, and much more make for terrific Saturday fun at the Washington Grove Fall Festival-Arts & Crafts Show & Sale.

Photo of Steppingstone Museum Fall Festival
Steppingstone Museum Fall Festival

In northern Harford County, Steppingstone Farm Museum Fall Harvest Festival on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. will feature craft booths, scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, apple bobbing, cider pressing, apple butter making, hayrides, animals, bluegrass music, food vendors, historic tours, and more! Adults pay $10. Kids ages 12 and under get in free. 

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

Enjoy the first full weekend of fall, Maryland!

Looking ahead, t’s never too early to make plans to attend the Autumn Glory Festival in Oakland. The 52nd annual festival will be held Oct. 9 – 13. Click here for this year’s brochure and watch for updates from the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce.

The Maryland Forests Association is hosting a series of workshops throughout the state titled “Why Markets Matter“. These will focus on the importance of Maryland’s Forest Products industry. The first workshop will be held on October 3rd in Garrett County. The workshops are free, but RSVP is required.   


“When I flashback to the lovely days of September
Where I’ve kept some dreams and stories to remember
Something like old streets and avenues to wander
Something like my toys when I was younger I have a fond belief that September will stay forever
There were many things in September, sweet and tender
Something like love, something like an adventure
Something like childhood, something like rain, like water.” 

  – Hayet Ben Bada


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