Fall Foliage and Festival Report – Oct. 19-20, 2019

News Release, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Welcome to the Fall Foliage and Festival Report for Oct. 19 and 20, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Herrington Manor State Park Adam Stachowiak
Herrington Manor State Park, photo by Adam Stachowiak

“Stunning. The colors of fall are not shy this week! The forests, parks, riversides, scenic overlooks, and even roadways in Garrett County are all worth finding the time to slow down and enjoy. Remember this window can be short, come see it before it’s gone,” says Ranger Adam Stachowiak, assistant manager of Herrington ManorSwallow Falls, and Wolf Den Run state parks. 

“The oaks around Herrington Manor State Park are still mostly green and some yellow. The maples are pretty, but most have lost at least half their leaves. and the rest might blow away with heavy rain and 25 mph gusts predicted this week,” adds Donnie Oates, parks manager.

Garrett County Country Road, Photo by Roy Musselwhite
Garrett County Country Road, Photo by Roy Musselwhite

“The cool weather has allowed some of our colors to hang on pretty well giving us a little bit of an extended peak,” explains Melissa Nash, Garrett project manager with the Maryland Forest Service. 

“Allegany County remains at 40% color change and still holding,” according to Dan Hedderick, Allegany Project Forester. “About two weeks ago we began to see some colors, but progress has halted since then.” 

Allegany County near Rocky Gap State Park, Photo by Dan Hedderick
Allegany County near Rocky Gap State Park, Photo by Dan Hedderick

Ranger Bob Study reports Fort Frederick State Park is just starting to get some nice color. Ranger Mary Ironside also notes they are just starting to see some color change in the South Mountain Recreation Area. “Maples are just starting to turn red and hopefully will stay on the trees through the weekend.” 

Hagerstown Watershed Area, Photo by Aaron Cook
Hagerstown Watershed Area, Photo by Aaron Cook

Near the Frederick and Washington county line, the color is good. “Looking at the ridges throughout the county we will hit peak color between this weekend and next. Pockets of yellows are emerging; oaks are getting that dull cast suggesting color change is right around the corner,” says Aaron Cook, forester based in Clear Spring. “Some areas are at or past peak in the valley with muted yellows, bronzes, burgundy, and some oranges to be found in hedgerows among the roadside and fields.”

Cunningham Falls State Park, Photo by Mark Spurrier
Cunningham Falls State Park, Photo by Mark Spurrier

Frederick County leaves are just beginning to change, according to Ranger Mark Spurrier, manager of Cunningham Falls and Gambrill state parks.

“We are getting beautiful colors in Patapsco Valley State Park – bright yellows, oranges and reds. Leaves are still still changing here as many trees are still green,” reports Ranger Felicia M. Graves of Baltimore County.

Diana Marsteller, park naturalist at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Cecil County writes: “We are seeing more hues this week at Fair Hill but still lots of green with only patches of color. Maples are turning red, while most of our black walnut tree leaves have fallen.” 

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

Abigail Matta, park naturalist at Elk Neck State Park, tells us the majority of the trees there are still hanging onto their green pigment but slowly transitioning to a mellow yellow. “Several of the red maples have gotten into the festivities, their bright leaves adding a little color to the park. The trees that have turned earlier now have brown leaves that are curled and make that satisfying crunch sound when stomped on,” she observed. 

“Yellow poplars and sweet gums are in almost full yellow now with some red on the sweet gums,” notes Rob Clarke, Lower Shore Project Manager with the Maryland Forest Service. “Black cherries seem to be going to brown very rapidly and are also dropping their leaves fast, probably due to drought. However, the red maples are starting to turn red and there is no change in the oaks yet.”

Avalon Area. Patapsco River State Park, Photo by Felicia Graves
Avalon Area. Patapsco Valley State Park, Photo by Felicia Graves

According to Teri Batchelor, Upper Shore Project Manager with the Maryland Forest Service, the black walnut leaves on many trees are almost all gone while others still have a lot of yellow leaves and lots of walnuts on the ground. “Sweet gums are sporting yellow leaves along with sycamore. Red maples in the forest are still mostly green with the hybrids showing the orange and yellow more so in parks and street trees,” she added. “Still not a lot of change in the oaks; a mixture of green leaves and some burgundy and some already brown.”

Assateague State Park Manager Angela Baldwin is seeing just a little bit of color on the far shore. “I’m thinking another week or two and we’ll have some nice color.”

“Anne Arundel County is about the same as last week,” notes Project Forester Justin Arseneault. “There’s a lot of color in the small trees, such as the flowering dogwood, and we are beginning to see some yellow and orange in the overstory trees. but green is still the dominant color for now. “

From Leonardtown in St. Mary’s County, Forest Service Project Manager Mark Muir explains, “Most trees have not started to turn yet. Some of the sycamores and oaks are turning brown but there’s not much color.” Dave Gaily added, “Agreed. Poplars are yellow, but overall lots of leaves are dropping with the rain. I would say we are at 26% fall color change total.”

“I would say our condition is the same as last week. Our largely-evergreen pine foliage is consistent in the south, but hardwoods are changing slightly north of Point Lookout State Park,” says Ranger Dawn Letts, park manager of the Point Lookout Complex.

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

HomeGrown Frederick
HomeGrown Frederick

This weekend pack up the family and visit some of the hardest working farms in Frederick County. During Homegrown Hay Days – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon – 4 p.m. – travel the countryside and stop at one or all 21 farms, each hosting a variety of special activities and events. Free, with no registration or ticket required, courtesy of Homegrown Frederick.

Combine this attraction with another Frederick County fall weekend favorite, Oktoberfest at Schifferstadt. Celebrate fall on the grounds of a picturesque, historic German farmhouse, the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum in Frederick on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon – 5 p.m. This traditional festival features juried arts, crafts, cultural activities, German food and drink, oompah band, colonial history demonstrators, and children’s fun. Admission to the festival is free, with a nominal $3 donation for museum tour (ages 12 & up). 

Scarecrows March Down Main
Scarecrows March Down Main Street in Middletown

On Saturday at 5 p.m. in Middleton, the Scarecrows March Down Main, one of the best local traditions in the area, families, classes, businesses, and local citizens of all ages vie with each other for creating a scarecrow like no other! Come share in the fun and judging on Saturday! 

That Saturday evening from 6:30-9 p.m., it time for the Spirits of the Furnace at Cunningham Falls State Park! Join park staff for a guided night tour through the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace and Village, with stops in historic structures and along the landscape. Refreshments will be available at the 1820 Collier’s Log house. Kids can also make a craft. Bring a flashlight and wear shoes appropriate for walking on uneven terrain.

Spirits of the Furnace
Spirits of the Furnace

In Westminster’s Dutterer Family Park, the Kidz Fall Harvest Fun Day will take place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a day of fun such as sack races, bean bag toss, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin painting, and scarecrow-making. This event is $1.00 for children 3 to 12. Ages two and under are free.

In central Maryland, now through Sunday, the Dutta Corporation Fair Hill International is a world-class, multi-day equestrian competition with vendors, family activities, and food. On both Saturday and Sunday you can also enjoy live music, dog agility, and frisbee dogs demonstrations at the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area.

Garden Glow at Ladew Gardens this Saturday from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. is a unique celebration of fall featuring illuminated sculptures, hundreds of glowing jack o’ lanterns, live music, food, and spirits. Garden Glow also features educational programs including animal presentations! Ladew Gardens is among one of Harford County’s most treasured places.

On Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., celebrate Native American Indian culture and heritage at the 10th Annual American Indian Festival at Patuxent River Park with live traditional music, dancing, storytelling, archery, exhibits, and crafts in Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County. 

Fall season is already here with its beautiful crisp weather. The smell of hot apple cider and cinnamon is in the air and many of us are already thinking about the approaching Thanksgiving and winter holidays! So what better way to start the season than celebrating it with our arts and crafts vendors, checking out their beautiful holiday displays, tasting the delicious cookies and enjoying a hot chocolate or apple cider while the kids have fun decorating pumpkins! The Silver Spring Arts & Crafts Fall Fair in Veterans Plaza is being held on Sunday afternoon from 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. in Montgomery County and admission is free.

Fresh oysters and local watermen are the focus of the Jailbreak Brewing Company’s annual fall festival in Laurel on Saturday from noon – 6 p.m. Brews + Bivalves is a day full of oysters, beer, and fundraising fun to benefit the Oyster Recover Partnership. Oysters on the half shell will be $1 each! Fun fact: Each saved shell enables 10 new oysters to be planted!

US Oyster Festival
U.S. Oyster Festival

Heading down to southern Maryland? Don’t miss the U.S. Oyster Festival this weekend. Celebrating its 53rd anniversary and the opening of the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster season, the U.S. National Oyster Shucking Championships & National Oyster Cook-Off comes back to Leonardtown in St. Mary’s County. Nearby on Saturday from 4:30 – 8 p.m., meet lost sailors whose Haunted Ship is lost in fog and cannot find its way back to St. Mary’s City. Go trick-or-treating, play games, and enjoy a story at The Lost City at Historic St. Mary’s.

In Anne Arundel County on Sunday afternoon from 12:30 p.m. – 5 p.m., enjoy food, live music by local artists, unique crafts, face painting, and demonstrations showing the vital role oysters play in maintaining the health of the Chesapeake Bay at the Captain Avery Museum Oyster Festival in Shady Side. Seafood lovers are invited to feast on raw and fried oysters, oyster stew, fried oyster roll sushi, and more. Free craftsfor the kids include fall paper plate wreaths, popsicle-stick scarecrows, face painting and a live touch tank.

In nearby Annapolis, Halloween on the Avenue on Sunday, Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. encompasses Maryland Avenue and State Circle’s boutique shopping district! Every shop is unique in charm and character. Explore nearby historic houses and gardens as well. 

Ocean Beach Maze

On the far Eastern Shore, Ocean City is hosting O.C.toberfest Beach Maze for the next two weekends. Children of all ages can enjoy a pleasant scream as they meander the sands of the giant beach maze! Wicked witches, pirates of the sand, scary scarecrows, ghouls in the graveyard, zombies, and more will add to the excitement.

Nearby on Saturday from noon – 5 p.m., the Berlin Oktoberfest celebrates with music, food, an annual fall sidewalk sale, beer garden, games, and activities, including a cornhole tournament.

Another annual and very popular Eastern Shore event is Tilghman Island Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. in Talbot County. Arts and nautical crafts, boat building demonstrations, oyster shucking, crab picking, and a look at the life of a waterman are among the activities, as well as the watermen’s boat docking contest, always a highlight.

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, Easton will host the 50th Annual Waterfowl Festival in early November.

Enjoy this colorful and fun-filled mid-October weekend in Maryland!


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