Fall Foliage Update
Welcome to the Fall Foliage & Festival Hotline for the weekend of October 27 and 28, brought to you by the Maryland Office of Tourism and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Well, this is the weekend for ghosts, goblins and other fright-worthy tricks and treats, and there are lots of Halloween events going on around the state to celebrate! Then we welcome November and all thoughts turn to the approaching holiday season… While the month naturally brings to mind images of turkeys and pumpkin pies, warm wool sweaters, and the first frosty-white mornings, leaves are actually still green in much of the state! For leaf peepers looking for where to go this weekend, the autumn foliage is at or just past peak in Frederick County and most western Central Maryland areas, and in a few places the leaves are already starting to drop.
Worth your while would be the South Mountain Recreation Area, comprised of Greenbrier, Gathland, Washington Monument and South Mountain State Parks, in westernmost Frederick County. Most of the forest has turned and the understory species are at peak with the sugar maples, sweetgums and dogwoods showing up vibrant red and the sassafras and tulip poplars a jewel-like yellow.
Dan Spedden, the manager of South Mountain, recommends this drive: take Route 40 into Greenbrier, then access Washington Monument State Park off of Alternate Route 40. Once in the park, take a half-mile hike to reach the monument erected to honor our first president, and check out the spectacular vista right in front of you. Get back in your car and take Route 67 south Pleasant Valley to Gathland State Park. It should be well worth the trip!
In Central Maryland, Gunpowder State Park, straddling Harford and Baltimore counties, is reporting very nice conditions, particularly in the Hammerman and Hereford areas. Now is a great time to plan a hike or bike ride along the park’s Northern Central Rail Trail.
A little further east, Elk Neck State Park and Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area in Cecil County are both reporting good color. Elk Neck’s foliage is about 40 percent and the dogwoods, maples, oaks, hickories and ash are turning vivid shades of yellow, orange and red. Fair Hill’s oaks, poplars, and sycamores are approaching full color and this would be a great weekend to hike the park’s high grounds and check out some the spectacular panoramas. The Appleton Road parking lot north of Route 273 would be a good place to start, then spend a glorious afternoon discovering a few of the park’s more than 75 miles of trails.
Remember, of you’re thinking about a weekend get-away to view the fall foliage, cabins are still available for the season in many state parks. You can reserve one for a fantastic autumn weekend today by calling the Maryland Park Service’s Reservation Line at 1-888-432-CAMP (2267).
If you’re heading out to Frederick County this weekend, check out Candlelight Ghost Tours, Frederick’s most popular walking tour, going on Friday and Saturday nights through the end of November. Based on factual events and actual eyewitness encounters, the tour highlights numerous epicenters of paranormal activity located in historic downtown Frederick – Maryland's Most Haunted City. Each tour covers approximately 1.2 miles and lasts 90 minutes. For additional information or a complete schedule, call (301) 668-8922.
Also in Frederick County, an event of a gentler theme: an Autumn Leaves Nature Craft program will take place at Gambrill State Park on Sunday morning, from 10 to 11 a.m. Both children and adults can learn how to immortalize the beautiful colors of fall by making their own Autumn Leaves craft, while exploring the natural history of our area! The program is appropriate for ages 2 and up; $1 per person.
Moving east into the Capital region, Seneca Creek State Park near Gaithersburg in Montgomery County will host Halloween Hayrides on Saturday and Sunday evenings, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Join a ranger on a hayride to see the nocturnal animals of the park and learn about Seneca Creek's creepy history. Please bring flashlights and wear weather appropriate clothing. $2 per person; registration required. Call the park office at 301-924-2127.
Up in Baltimore County, Soldiers Delight N.E.A. near Owings Mills will sponsor several hikes this weekend: For something a little ghoulish in nature, check out the Halloween History Hikes, taking place Friday and Saturday nights from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Be led by lantern light through the area after dark and listen to ghostly tales of lost miners, local lore, and tales of gruesome crime and punishment. Be prepared to meet some live animals along the way. Suitable for ages 8 yrs and up; a Halloween story time and craft will be provided for younger children. $5 per person or $15 per family; for more information or to register, call (410) 461-5005. Then on Sunday, join a mining historian for a free two-mile Mining History Hike to the historic Choate chromium mine. Learn about the history of mining in Soldiers Delight and try your hand at panning chrome sands. A great family program for the ages of 10 and up, call (410) 833-5508 for details.
At Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area in Cecil County, join a cast of ghosts and ghowlies for a Spooky Hollow Hike on Friday evening, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Accompany a park naturalist on a two-mile evening hike in Spooky Hollow. Participants should plan to meet at Parking Lot #4 on Gallaher Road. Dogs on a leash are welcome.
And down in Southern Maryland, Point Lookout State Park in St. Mary’s County will be holding its Civil War Days event on Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. This Living History Program features infantry drill and musket demonstrations, tours of the site, recreations of Hammond Hospital and Camp Hoffman, and much more. For further information contact Point Lookout State Park at (301) 872-5688.
For more information on events around the state this fall, contact the Maryland Office of Tourism at 1-800-MDISFUN or check out their website at www.visitmaryland.org.