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 2021
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 18 to October 25 for 2021. 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.
Below is the current map showing the leaves are just starting to change as of October 14, 2021. It looks like the very western parts of Maryland are peaking and changing rapidly due to rain and winds! UPDATE as of November 4th Maryland is pretty much all at peak color! Go enjoy the outdoors now!
For updates go here.
Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Maryland
Below I’ve listed all the best places to see fall color in Maryland! Think cute towns, pretty mountains, and beautiful lakes that will take your breath away!
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 are tons of hikes and walks in Harper’s Ferry and autumn has the perfect weather to enjoy it mosquito-free.
Some of my favorite 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 Harpers Ferry area, you will find the Maryland Heights Hike. This hike gives you the BEST view of Harpers Ferry because it is the highest point in the area.
The parking spots at the trailhead are now blocked. Your best bet is to park at the Marc Train Station, but get there before 8:30am on a weekend for a parking spot! You can find additional parking at the Harper’s Ferry Visitor center and simply walk across the bridge to the trailhead.
It’s about 4.5 miles round trip and somewhat steep at parts. Below is a map of the trail from the National Park Service.
Overall we found this hike pretty easy!
I’m in decent physical shape, my husband doesn’t work out at all and we both did this hike without a problem.
We started around 7:30 am in the morning and there were no people on the trail, by the time we headed back down, the trail was packed with huge tour bus groups of people!
We did however run into a fog that obscured the view when we got up there! It took about 30 minutes to wait it out before another fog rolled in.
There are also 2 viewpoints. The trail leads you to the viewpoint on the right, but I’ve noticed many of the pictures I’ve seen are taken from the viewpoint on the left. There’s a little trail between the two viewpoints. We did not end up going to the other viewpoint because we were cold, more fog was rolling in, and it looked a bit difficult to get to because of the fog. If there’s no fog I would definitely recommend going to the other viewpoint as well!
We got here early enough to park at the Train Station and paid for it on the website listed on the sign. If you forget to pay the National Park Service rangers will just leave an envelope on your car for payment. It was $2o to park and totally worth it.
Again the Train Station parking lot was about two-thirds full when we arrived and completely packed by the time we came down.
Definitely walk around town and enjoy a bit to eat after the hike. Harpers Ferry is a super cute town. There are no trash cans here so remember to take all your trash with you.
If you are here from my Instagram or TikTok this is the hike where I looked like I was above the clouds wearing a yellow maxi skirt!
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
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
Little Bennett Regional Park
Little Bennet Regional Park is the largest park in Montgomery County Maryland at 3,700 acres! There is beautiful scenery, a large campground, a small playground, more than a dozen historic sites, and over 25 miles of scenic natural surface trails.
For fall Little Bennett offers expansive foliage views from the day-use area without any hiking. If you do feel up for a hike, heading down to the creek is beautiful too!
All the pictures I took are from the day-use area at this address: 24615 Frederick Rd, Clarksburg, MD 20871.
I walked down the meadow a bit and found some beautiful tall grass with a perfect fall backdrop.
The park is open sunrise to sunset all year.
Additionally, you can drive through the park for some fall foliage views from your car on Clarksburg Road.
Black Hill Regional Park
Black Hill Regional Park is my favorite lake for fall photos in Montgomery County Maryland. This park is 2,000 acres and has 20 miles of trails throughout.
Black Hill Park features
- Black Hill Boats
- Multiple picnic shelters
- A half-acre dog park
- Volleyball courts
The best photography spots at Black Hill are the Boat House and the Public Boat Ramp. Near the boathouse, there’s an over the water platform for fishing that’s the perfect spot for photos.
The Public Boat Ramp located here is my favorite spot for sunset photos! The boat ramps are so pretty for photos. Boaters coming in can get a bit irritated though when they are coming in to dock and you are there taking pictures, so I wouldn’t stay too long.
The Nature Center also offers a beautiful view of the lake! This park is open sunrise to sunset.
Rockville Civic Center Glenview Mansion
Glenview Mansion in Rockville Civic Center Park is the perfect spot to enjoy fall color in Maryland in November! Yes, I said it in November. Usually peak fall color in Maryland is during October, but the trees here turn a beautiful golden orange in early to mid-November. So if you missed peak fall color, Rockville Civic Center is a great spot!
In the past, I’ve mostly visited Glenview for the kwanzan cherry blossom trees in Maryland, but this year I had time to visit in autumn and the rows of trees are just gorgeous! These rows of trees line the driveway up to the mansion. There’s also a beautiful awning of them behind the mansion.
(My white dress available here)
There’s plenty of parking at any time of the week! I’ve also not seen hours for Rockville Civic Center Park, but I’ve been here as early as 7am on a weekday and as late as sundown on a weekend. Glenview Mansion itself has hours from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
Glenview Mansion is normally booked for weddings on weekends, but because of the pandemic, it’s mostly open to the public on weekends and not very crowded. The mansion itself is closed.
It’s also not far from Washington DC, about a 30-minute drive, so it would a great day trip if you are looking to escape the city and take some pretty fall photos!
Location: 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville, MD 20851
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!
Baker Park in Frederick Maryland
Not only is Baker Park in Frederick Maryland a great spot for cherry blossoms in Maryland, but it’s also amazing during the fall time for fall color in Maryland!
Baker Park is in downtown historic Frederick and full of scenic paths with bridges, a lake, and Joseph Dill Baker Memorial Carillon. Parking here is easy and readily available on the street there’s also a parking garage nearby.
My favorite place to photography in Baker Park is the covered bridge! Baker Park’s covered bridge is perfect for fall and spring.
Covered Bridges in Maryland for Fall Color
One of the most iconic fall foliage pictures are the ones of the covered bridge in Stowe, Vermont, but we have covered bridges in Maryland too! There are seven covered bridges in Maryland to be exact.
- Baker Park Covered Bridge in Frederick Maryland
- Jericho Covered Bridge in Kingsville, Maryland
- Gilpin’s Falls Covered Bridge in North East Maryland
- Foxcatcher Farms Covered Bridge in Elkton, Maryland
- Utica Mills Covered Bridge in Thurmont, Maryland
- Roddy Road Covered Bridge in Thurmont, Maryland
- Loys Station Covered Bridge just outside Thurmont, Maryland
I’ve been to Baker Park and Roddy Road covered bridges and both are stunning in the fall time!
Baker Park Covered Bridge is a pedestrian-only bridge and you cannot drive through it as it is in the middle of Baker Park in Frederick Maryland. It is great for fall and spring pictures thought because you don’t have to worry about oncoming traffic!
Also if you have seen the BTS footage of the famous covered bridge in Stowe, Vermont you’ll know that there’s literally a line of people trying to take pictures at that covered bridge. Well, the Baker’s Park-covered bridge is basically empty! I ran into one other photographer there in spring, and only joggers and walkers in the fall! You will have this place to yourself on a weekday and I can’t imagine it being even that busy on a weekend. No lines here!
Roddy Road covered bridge is another really cute one for photos. This one is a real covered bridge and cars do drive through it.
There’s also a little parking lot next to it so you can stop and have a look around.
I actually stumbled on this bridge when we were visiting a winery in Maryland during fall and this covered bridge was right next to a winery!
Again like Baker’s Park Covered bridge, this one was pretty empty as well. We visited on a weekend and maybe saw one or two other people here. What you do have to watch out for are CARS coming through the bridge if you are taking a picture!
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