Fall Foliage Report November 2, 2023

Fall Foliage as of 11/02/23

“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.” — Sarah Addison Allen, from the novel “First Frost”

Green, red, yellow, and orange leaves in Prince George's County

Photo by Vincent C., Prince George’s County.

Blink and you might miss it. Peak fall color that is. Some reports out of western Maryland this week describe past peak conditions, and foresters and park rangers in other regions of the state also report rapid changes, with tree canopies transforming from mostly green to brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red often in as little as 48 hours. A strong cold front at the beginning of the week brought a sweeping wind into the forests and mountain ranges, resulting in a colorful forest floor and a lot of nearly bare trees. Time is of the essence for those wanting to capture autumn’s glory before it’s gone. 

Western Maryland

Forest Manager Melissa Nash describes “well past peak conditions” in Garrett County with 80% of the leaves on the ground and those remaining on the trees a dark russet brown. Maryland’s westernmost county has seen a dramatic shift in both fall color change and the weather, receiving its first snowfall of the season overnight on Tuesday.

Garret County Photo collage. The top photo top photo shows red, green, orange, and yellow leaves. The bottom photo shows trees with their leaves shed.

Garrett County’s fall transition. Photos by Forester Melissa Nash.

Photo of hillside with thin layer of snow on the ground

Auburn leaves poke through snowflakes at the Monroe Run Scenic Overlook. Photo by Forester Melissa Nash.

Aaron Cook, Project Manager/Forester in Clear Spring, Washington County, sums up the season’s rapid change: “I am not sure I have seen the foliage peak and fade so quickly. I was watching a red maple in my neighbor’s backyard over the weekend. On Friday, it had splashes of orange and red in individual branches; the bulk of the canopy was green. By Sunday morning, the entire tree was in full color, and Tuesday (after the passing of a strong cold front), it was half bare.”

This is true for much of the Blue Ridge Mountains and higher elevations in Washington and Frederick counties, with maples, gums, hickories, and birches reaching peak color and then quickly losing their leaves. The oaks are the draw now, with the trees showing shades of rich scarlet and purple. Cook recommends catching the last pops of peak color while you still can.

We are now past peak, with some pockets of color remaining, however I believe there will still be some foliage to admire this weekend in the lower elevations,” Cook says. 

Photo of mountainside with variety of fall colors in the trees

The tree canopies at Bear Pond Mountains are beginning to look less full, giving oaks the spotlight in shades of burgundy and purple. Photo by Project Manager/Forester Aaron Cook.

Photo of frost on flowers, against a backdrop of fall colors on a mountainside

Goldenrod dressed in frost reminds us that winter draws near. Photo by Project Manager/Forester Aaron Cook.

Seasonal Park Ranger Stacey Jones reports past peak conditions at Fort Frederick State Park in Washington County, but a few fall gifts remain for leaf peeping visitors.

Photo of a single tree in a field along a driveway

A large oak with deep burgundy hues is past peak at Fort Frederick State Park. Photo by Seasonal Park Ranger Stacey Jones at Fort Frederick State Park.

Photo of trees with brightly colored leaves

A tale of two oaks in stunning orange and yellow competing for attention at Fort Frederick State Park. Photo by Seasonal Park Ranger Stacey Jones.

Photo of several trees along a lane

Deep hues of copper and crimson greet visitors to Fort Frederick State Park. Photo by Seasonal Park Ranger Stacey Jones.

Watershed Forester Bob Schwartz reports from along South Mountain in western Frederick County this week: “We were around peak prior to the rainfall over the weekend, which caused a lot of leaf-drop and pushed the mountainsides from vibrant yellows to mottled colors in a matter of days. However, there is plenty of burnished gold and blue sky left to see, particularly in the mountain coves or other sheltered areas that experienced less direct impact from the storms. Hopefully the return to cooler weather means we get an elongated end of season color flush.”

Photo of colorful trees in a field with a mountain in the backdrop

A stellar blue sky provides a perfect backdrop to fall shades of gold mixed with crimson near South Mountain. Photo by Watershed Forester Bob Schwartz.

Photo of tall trees in a forested area, with leaves covering the ground

Spared by the recent wind and rain, the remaining fall leaves get a good morning kiss from the sun in western Frederick County. Photo by Watershed Forester Bob Schwartz.

Photo of tall trees along a road

Bursts of gold and tangerine mix in with the few remaining green leaves in western Frederick County. Photo by Watershed Forester Bob Schwartz.

Central Maryland

In contrast to the conditions in Western Maryland, the central region of our state is reveling in a quintessential fall landscape.

“It is an autumn wonderland out here,” says Ranger Lead Melissa Carson. The Hollofield area of Patapsco Valley State Park is experiencing peak color, and visitors to the area can expect plentiful tree canopies ranging from fiery oranges to more subtle shades of burgundy and yellow. Located just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Baltimore, the Ole Ranger trail and Peaceful Pond trail provide a respite to embrace fall color.

Photo of trees with green, yellow, orange, and red leaves on a hillside

Autumn’s beauty as far as the eye can see at Hollofield Overlook. Photo by State Park Ranger Lead Melissa Carson.

Photo of yellow and green leaves on the trees and ground

Wind and rain resulted in more leaves on the forest floor than in the trees in Glen Artney. Photo by State Park Ranger Lead Melissa Carson.

Administrative Specialist Dave Gigliotti reports from Susquehanna and Rocks State Parks this week where “visitors are seeing fall’s magnificent colors in the maples, hickories, and beeches.” Best views for leaf peepers? Head to the King and Queen Seat or Deer Creek, a popular spot among anglers.

Photo of predominantly orange and yellow leaves on trees surrounding a road into a forest

The trees surrounding Craigs Corner Road provide a golden passageway in Susquehanna State Park. Photo by Ranger Nicole Staab.

Photo of red leaves on a tree

Leaves like rubies adorn a maple in Rocks State Park. Photo by Ranger Nicole Staab.

Southern Maryland

Project Forester Chase Kolstrom reports from La Plata this week where signs of peak leaf change have made their way into the landscape.

“I am happy to report that most of the southern region is experiencing the beautiful color change we’ve been patiently waiting for,” said Kolstrom. “And I expect we’ll see peak fall foliage in the southern region by later this week or this weekend.” 

Photo of leaves changing to yellow on a tree

An American sycamore draped in golden leaves in La Plata. Photo by Project Forester Chase Kolstrom.

Photo of a sweetgum trees' leaves in various stages of changing green to yellow to red

A sweetgum illustrates rapidly changing conditions, with bright reds and green sharing the same sparse canopy. Photo by Project Forester Chase Kolstrom.

Photo of trees with green, orange, and yellow leaves next to a pond

Subdued shades of copper and yellow at Rosaryville State Park. Photo by Park Ranger Cierra Maszkiewicz.

Eastern Maryland

Acting State Forester Anne Hairston-Strang reports significant changes in eastern Maryland this week with “sugar maple, blackgum, and sassafras taking center stage” in the fall color show at Tuckahoe State Park.

Photo of smaller tree with orange and green leaves, against a backdrop of tall pine trees.

A burst of gold among the evergreens at Tuckahoe State Park. Photo by Acting State Forester Anne Hairston-Strang.

Photo of trees with orange and red leaves

Gorgeous shades of orange mix with red to create a perfect fall tree canopy at Tuckahoe State Park. Photo by Acting State Forester Anne Hairston-Strang.

Northern Maryland

Bohemia River State Park and Fair Hill Natural Resources Area are alive with fall color this week, with dazzling shades of scarlet, persimmon, and gold lighting up the landscape. Seasonal Park Ranger Shin Ae Gonzalez reports peak to near peak conditions in the area, with many of the leaves still on the trees, withstanding (for now) the windy conditions resulting from the recent cold front. Scott’s Mill Bridge was just reopened after an extensive renovation, allowing visitors access to one of the area’s best fall foliage viewing spots. 

Photo of trees with orange, green, yellow, red leaves along a stream

One of Maryland’s best leaf-peeping spots, Scott’s Mill Bridge is now open to visitors at Fair Hill. Photo by Park Service Associate Lesley Leader.

Photos from Our Readers

We welcome all of Maryland’s outdoor enthusiasts to send in photos capturing the beauty of the fall season. Please use the online submission form to send your entries directly to us. Your photo might be selected to appear in a future edition of the Fall Foliage Report!

Photo of valley full of trees with green, orange, and red leaves

Photo by Roy P., Garrett County.

Photo of forested area with leaves on the ground and a deer walking

Photo by Eric S., Baltimore County.

Photo of a pond surrounded by trees with green, red, yellow, and orange leaves

Photo by Vincent C., Prince George’s County.

Photo of tree branch extending over a pond, with red, yellow, and orange leaves

Photo by Vincent C., Prince George’s County.

Recreational Spotlight

When most of us think of Maryland’s best spots to see fall color, we don’t often consider Maryland’s seaside areas like Assateague State Park. However, this area of Maryland experiences seasonal transitions as unique as its ever-evolving landscape.

Here at Assateague we have our own shift in color during the fall months,” says Assistant Park Manager Meghan Rhode. “Seaside goldenrod explodes into bloom, transitioning from green to gold and attracting Monarch butterflies on their way to Mexico. We witness changes in our skies with the fall migration of many species of birds that use the Atlantic flyway to head south. Tree swallows come through by the hundreds as they head to Florida and as far south as Central America. Even the sunsets seem to get brighter and more colorful in the fall.” 

Visitors to Assateague, a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Sinepuxent Bay on the west, can enjoy walks along two miles of ocean beaches and explore marsh areas, home to a variety of wildlife including deer, waterfowl, and the island’s famous feral horses.

Photo collage of Assateague including flowers, a butterfly, and a bird

Watch the Sky

Saturn will end retrograde motion November 4 and the last quarter moon occurs November 5. The celestial highlight of the week is the peak of the Southern Taurids meteor shower, occurring on November 6. Head outside shortly after nightfall and look east. But don’t forget a warm jacket and maybe some cocoa – it’s going to be chilly outside.



Photos of and information about pignut hickory

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