Tracking Fall Foliage

       Eventually we will bid the hot and humid summerlike weather goodbye, and the landscape will explode with vibrant colors of orange, red and yellow. Kids will be jumping into newly raked piles of leaves, and we’ll all fall back to Eastern Standard Time and grab that extra bit of sleep.

       Autumn officially arrived the early morning of Sept. 23. Now all across Chesapeake Country the leaf-peepers are waiting for the signs.

      The most obvious indicator of autumn’s arrival, the changing of the foliage, is still a few weeks away for most of the state. However, in western Maryland, pockets in the higher elevations are starting to show splotches of brilliant color. Garrett County Forester Melissa Nash notes the changing colors on a tree in New Germany State Park and reports, “This sugar maple is telling us fall is just around the corner. If these warm days and cool nights keep up along with intermittent rain, we should get some good color this year.”

       “Change is not obvious yet, but driving along a forested country road in Allegany County you will notice that a vine called Virginia creeper has changed to red, as well as black gum trees,” writes Flintstone-based project forester Dan Hedderick. “Silver maple has started to lose its leaves as well as walnut, which has changed to yellow. Sycamore has no real color but has started to drop leaves, and an understory tree, flowering dogwood, has changed to multiple colors with red dominant.”

      Hedderick reports a 30 percent color change along Interstate 68, with various shades of yellow offering a glimpse of the autumn glory to come.

      Traditionally, western Maryland is the region where leaf color changes first, with Garrett and Allegany counties’ foliage taking the lead and peaking toward the middle of October.

      The shorter, cooler days that accompany these spectacular seasonal changes offer opportunities to get outside and experience some of our state’s activities and festivals.

      Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources offers a weekly Fall Foliage Report, showcasing the Old Line State’s vibrant fall foliage. Sign up online: