Fall foliage in Maryland is definitely a sight to behold. Besides cherry blossom season in Maryland, fall is definitely my favorite time of year. The air is usually crisp and dry, with sunny days and cool nights.
If you are looking to experience the best of fall foliage in Maryland then keep reading because I’m sharing peak color predictions and all the best places for autumn leaf-peeping in Maryland!
But for the most part fall is usually pretty dry in Maryland and the perfect time to spend outdoors.
When Do the Leaves Change Color in Maryland
Fall color starts to show in Maryland around the beginning of October and runs until the leaves all fall off around early to mid-November.
Usually, the leaves in western Maryland start to change first and the color change progresses eastward as time goes on.
Of course, mother nature is never predictable and fall color can vary greatly depending on the weather. Like a few years we had an unusually warm September followed by an unusual amount of rain, causing the fall leaves in Maryland not to change color at all, then directly falling off brown!
For good fall foliage in Maryland, we need nice dry sunny days to really bring out their vibrant color!
When Will Fall Foliage Peak in Maryland 2020
When will fall foliage reach peak color in Maryland? There are a few sites that make predictions. The one I’ve used most is from Smokey Mountain, which is the map below.
I used this map last year to plan my autumn color excursions in Maryland and it was semi-accurate. The map gives you a general idea of when fall color will show and peak throughout the country, but because we had such wacky weather last year, it was off by about 1 week.
According to the map as of now, we should be expecting peak leaf-peeping to take place around October 26, 2020. Of course, as we get closer to fall the predictions may change. For updates go here.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources also puts out a fall foliage report annually around September.
As of October 15, 2020, their map shows most of Maryland just about to hit peak.
For updates go here.
Harper’s Ferry for Fall Color
Harper’s Ferry is actually in West Virginia, but right on the border! This historic little town is simply adorable and perfect for a fall day trip!
There’s tons of hikes and walks in Harper’s Ferry and autumn has the perfect weather to enjoy it mosquito-free.
Some of my favorites spots to enjoy fall views in Harper’s Ferry include:
Murphy-Chambers Farm Trail
It’s an easy 1/2 mile walk from the Farm to River Vista. This viewpoint gives you an amazing view of the Shenandoah River without all the work!
Winchester & Potomac Railroad Bridge
A stunning walking bridge that takes you across the Shenandoah River! You really can’t get much better than this!
Harper’s Ferry Brewing
Once you are done exploring the town, take in another view from above WITHOUT any hiking at Haper’s Ferry Brewing! This brewery offers stunning views without any work. So relax and enjoy a drink and just take in all the beautiful fall foliage.
Maryland Heights Hike
On the Maryland side of the Harper’s Ferry area, you will find the Maryland Heights Hike. This hike gives you the BEST view of Haper’s Ferry because it is the highest point in the area.
There’s minimal parking here, only about 16 spots and it is a popular hike so I’d get here early! You can find additional parking at the Harper’s Ferry Visitor center and simply walk across the bridge to the trailhead. This will make the hike about 4.5 miles round trip.
It’s about 3 miles round trip and rather steep. Below is a map of the trail form the National Park Service.
Weverton Cliffs Hike for Fall Foliage in Maryland
And yet another wonderful hike for fall foliage in Maryland is Weverton Cliffs. Weverton Cliffs offers a wonderful view of the Potomac River, especially during autumn. This hike is not quite as intense as Maryland Heights with the incline but there are still steep areas!
The trail is 1.5 miles one way, so 3 miles total for this hike. The parking lot is not huge and it’s a pretty popular hike so get here early to park and hike!
Annapolis Rock Maryland Hike
Annapolis Rock is a stunning autumn hike in Maryland! This hike is exceptionally busy because of the sweeping views it offers of fall colors. It’s about 5 miles out and back.
Washington Monument State Park
If you want beautiful fall views in Maryland without any work then head to Washington Monument State Park! This state park is on top of South Mountain offering spectacular views of autumn below.
And the best viewpoint is from the Washington Monument, which is a rugged stone tower that was initially erected by the citizens of Boonsboro in 1827.
From the parking lot, it’s an easy 0.3-mile walk up to the monument.
Location: 6620 Zittlestown Rd, Middletown, MD 21769
Hours: 8 a.m. to Sunset (April to October)
10 a.m. to Sunset (November to March)
Sugarloaf Mountain for Autumn Color in Maryland
Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson Maryland offers beautiful views. At an elevation of 1282 feet, Sugarloaf stands more than 800 feet above the surrounding farmland below. Stronghold owns this mountain but it is free to enter. There are 4 trails you can hike here:
- Blue – Northern Peaks Trail – 5 miles
- Purple – Alternate Route to White Rocks – 1.5 miles
- White – Mountain Loop Trail – 2.5 miles
- Yellow – Saddleback Horse Trail – 7 miles
For the quickest way up to the peak park at the East View Parking lot and take the orange trail up, which is 1/4 mile one way.
Location: 7901 Comus Rd, Dickerson, MD 20842
Hours: 8 a.m. until sunset. The front gate will be closed one hour prior to sunset. Please be off the property by sunset. Any vehicles found on the property after sunset will be towed by Dorsey’s Towing
Rock Creek Park for Fall Color in Maryland
Rock Creek Park extends from Maryland all the way into Washington DC. Autumn really puts on a show at this 1,800 acre park.
Explore the 13 miles of trails through woodlands and along the lake shores, or go picnicking, fishing, or boating while viewing the many species of wildlife. Rock Creek in Maryland encompasses 2 lakes, Lake Needwood and Lake Frank.
I love running along the trails in Rock Creek in fall because it’s so pretty and actually less busy than summer when the weather starts to get cooler. It’s one of my favorite fall runs in Maryland!
Seneca Creek Park in Maryland for Autumn Leaves
If you want to experience all the fall vibes in Maryland without any work head over to Seneca Creek State Park in Montgomery County Maryland!
This stunning Maryland park is large at 6,300 acres and extends along 14 scenic miles of Seneca Creek. Hiking trails, picnic areas, and a playground surround the 90-acre Clopper Lake.
There’s nothing prettier than fall leaves next to a beautiful lake, and Seneca Creek Park really does have it all in the fall.
You can hike the trail around Clopper Lake at Seneca Creek for beautiful autumn color.
Or if you are feeling lazy just drive over to King Fisher’s viewpoint to get a perfect view of the entire lake. If you are feeling more adventurous hike down from King Fisher’s toward the lake and to the right to walk across the bridge. The bridge might be one of the best views of the lake for fall!
The boathouse is another lovely spot for fall color at this Maryland state park.
- Location: 11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
- Hours: 8 a.m. to Sunset, March-October; 10 a.m. to Sunset, November-February
- Over 50 miles of trails are open for hiking, horseback riding and bicycling which wind through a variety of habitat
- Entrance Fee $3 per person on Weekends, Free on Weekdays
Great Falls in Maryland for Fall Color
Great Falls is another excellent location for beautiful fall color!
The Maryland portion of Great Falls is part of the C&O Canal Historic Park.
There are two viewing platforms for the falls on the Maryland side which allows visitors to see the rushing waters of the gorge against a backdrop of fiery leaves without much effort.
The canal itself is a lovely sight as well and has a broad flat path perfect for those with kids and strollers.
My favorite hike in Great Falls in Maryland has to be the Billy Goat Trail.
This hike is a bit challenging with some steep inclines you will have to climb up, but the autumn foliage views it offers are incredible.
There should be a per vehicle entrance fee to Great Falls in Maryland, but I’ve never paid it.
Not because I don’t want to, I’d love to help keep our parks clean and maintained, but I’ve only come during the afternoon around 3 p.m.
It seems there’s never anyone at the entrance at that time to collect my money!
- Location: 11710 MacArthur Blvd. Potomac, MD 20854
- Entrance Fee: $15 per vehicle, though if you walk in it’s free
- Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Lake Needwood Maryland Fall Foliage
I’ve been coming to Lake Needwood since I was a little kid. We spent many summers here fishing and row boating has kids. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the Needwood Lake’s beauty during the fall season in Maryland.
Lake Needwood is part of the Rock Creek Regional Park system with picnic areas, parking, and 6.4 miles of hiking trails.
The trail going around the lake is perfect for enjoying fall leaves and weather! My favorite viewpoint for autumn color at Lake Needwood though is the stone veranda next to the boathouse. Getting to this viewpoint requires no hiking since it close to the parking lot.
One note about the water at Lake Needwood. Montgomery County Parks has detected elevated levels of microcystin, a toxic substance produced by some species of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria).
Microcystin, a hepatotoxin, can cause harm to the liver of humans and pets if ingested. So please don’t touch the water.
- No entrance fee
- Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
- Do not touch the water here
UPDATE: As of 10/21/2020 fall color at Lake Needwood is amazing!! I would say it has hit peak at this point so it’s the perfect time to go! I took the pictures below on a perfect misty morning!
Before the leaves turn in mid-September there’s a super bloom of pretty yellow flowers at Lake Needwood in Rockville!
I’ve always wanted to go to California to see the wild poppy fields but since we don’t have that in Maryland this will have to do!
And these yellow flowers smell amazing!!
There’s also a similar field of yellow flowers at the National Arboretum in the fields near the National Capitol Columns.
These yellow flowers in at Lake Needwood in Rockville, MD are Bearded Beggarticks also know as Tickseed Sunflower and Bur Marigold. I’ve seen them misidentified as Swamp Marigolds which are different yellow flowers.
I also came across a beautiful field of wheat looking tall grass while hiking around Lake Needwood!
I had been looking for a field like this forever and it was great to discover it at a lake I’ve been going to since I was a child.
Lake Frank in Rockville Maryland for Fall Foliage
If you are headed to Lake Needwood, you should add Lake Frank to your trip as well! Lake Frank is right next to Lake Needwood and also part of the Rock Creek Park system.
There’s 7 miles of hiking trails here and my favorite is jus the one that goes around the lake!
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Location: 15212-15184 Avery Rd, Derwood, MD 20855
RedGate Park in Maryland
RedGate Park used to be RedGate Golf Course. I actually used to play golf here quite often and it was always a challenge for me because of all the hills!
Well back in 2018 because the city didn’t want to pay for the 3.1 million dollars in repairs, they turned it into a park.
And I’m glad they did! This park is huge at 131 acres with plenty of parking. What’s great about this park is that it has fully paved pathways because it was a golf course! The path was for golf carts!
The rolling hills I found so difficult to chuck my golf ball through make a beautiful backdrop for fall foliage. You won’t have any problem social distancing here because I barely saw anyone on a lovely Sunday afternoon.
And at the beginning of September, the prettiest fields of queen anne’s lace blooms here. I had been looking for a field of queen anne’s lace and I can’t believe I found it so close to home.
Location: 14500 Avery Rd, Rockville, MD 20853
Agriculture History Farm Park in Maryland
I first posted about Montgomery County’s Agriculture History Farm Park back in September having discovered their dahlia garden. But who knew that the dahlias go into full bloom in October!
I went back to enjoy some fall foliage but ended up with fall foliage and peak bloom for the dahlias!
The Agriculture History Farm Park is 455 acres with over 5 miles of natural surface trails and a cornfield!
They even have a swing right next to the cornfield for you to enjoy the lovely fall breeze.
The Farm Park is free and open from sunrise to sunset 7 days a week.
Location: 18400 Muncaster Rd, Derwood, MD 20855
You do need a permit here for portrait photography if:
- The primary purpose of your visit is to capture photos of your family/group
- You or any member of your party is wearing formal attire/costume/wedding attire
- A photographer (professional or hobbyist) is accompanying you to take photos
- A professional photographer is taking posed or portrait photos
I’m pretty sure though if you are here taking a few pictures with your phone no one is going to stop you. There were very few people here when I visited on a weekday. I can’t imagine it being very crowded even on a weekend!
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