Coming this fall to a tree near you

Where to find colorful foliage

Where to find colorful foliage

October 09, 2005|By KRISTIN WILSON

It's happening slowly but surely - splotches of vibrant orange, red, yellow and brown leaves are appearing on the limbs of Tri-State area trees.

By this time next week, the landscape will be awash with colorful signs that the winter season is not far away.

This week, Washington County is considered to be in the "low color change" stage according to The Foliage Network, which updates its Web site with information about color changes across the country.


"Temperatures have continued to be well above normal throughout the region," says information on The Foliage Network Web site. "As a result, the foliage is very slow to begin changing."

"We're running a little bit behind schedule," says Alex Sosnowski, meteorologist with The warm weather early in October "is causing the trees to maintain their green color," he explains.

However, "the main trigger of the leaf change is the decreasing sun angle," he says. "That sets off a chain reaction and cuts off the nutrient supply." With cloudy weather, fall foliage color change can be accelerated, he adds.

In Maryland, changing leaf colors appear first in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties, according to information provided by the Maryland Office of Tourism. From the middle of October to the end of the month is generally the peak time for leaf color in the state.

As long as the weather stays nice, the coming weeks should be an excellent time to enjoy the fall scenes emerging in the Tri-State area.

Here are some places to visit to find the colorful fall views:

Catoctin Colorfest Arts and Crafts Show, Thurmont, Md.

With touches of fall color providing a backdrop, the 42nd annual Catoctin Colorfest Arts and Crafts Show continues today until 5 p.m. at the Thurmont Community Park on Frederick Road. The festival is primarily an arts and crafts show with 360 vendors and includes a "wide selection of food," says Carol Robertson, vice president of the event. The show continues at the nearby Guardian Hose Company Activities Grounds and the grounds of the Thurmont Middle School.

C&O Canal National Historic Park

While the trails along the C&O Canal provide ideal hiking and biking throughout the year, the fall is an especially ideal time to explore the scenic banks.

Cowans Gap State Park, Fulton County, Pa.

Cowans Gap State Park, between Chambersburg, Pa., and McConnellsburg, Pa., is packed with trees that will be changing - and eventually dropping - their leaves. Check out the foliage while paddling around Cowans Gap Lake, a 42-acre lake within the park that offers fishing. Chris Mayer, Master Gardener coordinator with Penn State Cooperative Extension in Franklin County, suggests driving through McConnellsburg for a particularly picturesque fall excursion.

Pen Mar Park, Washington County

From the overlook points of Pen Mar Park, foliage spectators can get a bird's-eye view of the season's color changes. "The view from up there of the valley is just incredible," Mayer says. The Appalachian Trail also runs through the park. Energetic foliage hunters might choose to wander the trail from this starting point.

Adams County, Pa.

"There are lots of orchards and farm markets through (Adams County)," Mayer says. Take in the fall landscape while exploring the mainly agricultural county. Today, the annual National Apple Harvest Festival continues at the South Mountain Fairgrounds, 10 miles northwest of Gettysburg, near the town of Arendtsville. The festival is a mix of entertainment, craft vendors and food vendors selling all kinds of apple treats.

Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont, Md.

On selected Saturdays and Sundays in October, fall "color walks" will be offered by Catoctin park rangers. The walks start at the Hog Rock Parking Area and end at the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook, says Debbie Mills, a park ranger.

"It's an easy walk," Mills says. "During that time, the people leading the walk will talk about why leaves change color and identify some of the trees along the way." The walk is about three-quarters of a mile round-trip and is geared toward family groups, Mills says. No reservations are needed. Walks are planned at 1:30 and 3 p.m. on Oct. 15, 16, 22 and 23.

The national park is busiest on October weekends, Mills says. "If it's possible, the weekdays are the best time to enjoy the fall colors when there are less people," she says. Many hikes are available throughout the park, including four trails that culminate with an overlook, which are ideal for foliage viewing, Mills says.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

At the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers converge, Harpers Ferry, W.Va., is scenic at any time of year. The park covers parts of Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia. The fall is a particularly busy time with re-enactment and living history programs scheduled for remaining October weekends. Programs include an anniversary celebration of the John Brown raid and cider-making demonstrations at the Frederick Roeder Tavern. For details, visit

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