Maryland may be best known for the Eastern Shore and delicious crabs, but don’t miss the chance to see Maryland shine at peak fall foliage time! From the C&O Canal to Seneca State Park, Maryland has attractive places to take in the fall viewing of leaves changing colors.
Maryland’s color changes tend to peak in mid- to late-October, so make your plans to take full advantage of the beauty. Here are our picks for the best places to see fall foliage in Maryland!
Pro tip: Peak leaf peepin’ tends to be mid-October in Western Maryland (Garrett and Allegany Counties) and then spreads East across the state. So, don’t despair if you miss peak bloom at Deep Creek. There are loads of great places in Eastern Maryland and the Eastern Shore that won’t reach peak bloom until the first week of November!
Once, it served as a lifeline for transportation needs along the Potomac River. The canal ran nearly 185 miles long. Today, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park serves as a reminder of times past while providing visitors an area to enjoy nature and history.
It affords a perfect route to enjoy fall foliage as it changes colors in October. The route follows along the canal’s old towpath. As you visit, check out Billy Goat Trail, which includes an opportunity for rock climbing as well as hiking.
The trail has other trails that offshoot from it, so be prepared for whatever type of hiking you’d like to do. Or, just enjoy the drive among the colorful leaves clinging for life on the threes hugging the roadway.
Deep Creek Lake/Swallow Falls State Park
Deep Creek Lake is Maryland’s largest lake, with nearly 40 miles of shoreline. Situated among the mountains in western Maryland, Deep Creek Lake is a four-season lake, and provides majestic views of the autumn colors.
Deep among the changing trees are several state lakes, including Swallow Falls State Park. With a 53-foot waterfall along the Youghiogheny River, Swallow Falls State Park has some of the best scenery in the state. Hike area trails to take in the fresh air and the beauty of fall up-close.
Stay at any of the area resorts or hotels and make a weekend trip of your leaf adventure.
Another great fall foliage activity in the Deep Creek Lake area is at Wisp Mountain Resort. Take the chair lift ride to the top of the mountain and enjoy the spectacular views along the way!
Located a short drive from Gaithersburg in Dickerson, Sugarloaf Mountain is the result of erosion that took about 14 million years to create. Today, the 1,282-feet mountain offers nature enthusiasts an opportunity to hike unique areas and marvel at the beauty of the landscape, knowing it’s a special geologic gift to the world. As you hike through the woods, enjoying the colors and nature, be on the lookout for wildlife such as white-tailed deer.
Maybe not quite known as a fall leafing destination, but it may be the best time to visit Annapolis. Home to the US Naval Academy, a walking tour in the crisp air and changing leaves create a memorable experience.
With temperatures still warm enough for some water activities, such as kayaking, visitors will have the area to themselves as the summer crowds have returned home. The Naval Academy isn’t the only place to admire the fall foliage; the annual renaissance festival takes place at in Crownsville, MD, which offers its own nature views.
Chestertown is a great town to use as an anchor to take in the fall colors along the Eastern Shore. A short drive is the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge, home to several birds, including ospreys and bald eagles, as well as impressive fall foliage. The refuge’s trails offer excellent views of the Chester River and Chesapeake Bay
If you prefer a nice drive in the country, hop in the auto and head along one of the scenic byways to take in the sights and sounds of fall. The Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway are two impressive routes to follow. Running more than 120 miles, the Tubman byway includes 36 attractions along the way, where you can stop and learn history while taking in fall colors.
Gunpowder Falls State Park
The lush forests of the various parts of Gunpowder Falls State Park are gorgeous in the fall. A particularly gorgeous area for fall foliage is the Hammerman Area, where you can enjoy the autumn colors alongside the beach!
The Jerusalem Mill Area of Gunpowder Falls State Park is another great location for fall foliage. The historic buildings are a gorgeous backdrop to the changing colors of the leaves.
Seneca Creek State Park
Stretching along 14 miles of Seneca Creek, Seneca Creek State Park and in particular, Clopper Lake, is the perfect place to see breathtaking fall colors.
The view of the trees reflecting in the water of Clopper Lake is unforgettable.
The Thurmont area of Maryland
This area spans both Washington and Frederick Counties. In Washington County check out Pen Mar Park. The colors are stunning!
In Frederick County Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls State park are both great places to go for a fall hike. In Cunningham Falls especially, the fall colors are amazing, both around the waterfall and the William Houck Lake! There are loads of scenic trails throughout the park as well!
Loch Raven Reservoir
Loch Raven Reservoir is incredibly beautiful and offers quite a few easy hikes for kids. You can go for a short 1 hour hike, bring a picnic and hang out by the water, or even rent a kayak! The colors in the fall are absolutely stunning!
Kid Friendly Trails
Here are a few of the most kid friendly trails:
Glen Ellen Trail Short Loop: A great 2.8 mile hike that also offers great water views and is quite easy for kids. Also, this trail is known for its wildflowers. Sounds blissful!
Merryman’s Mill Lower Trail Loop: This trail is a 1.9 mile loop and is very popular with hikers of all levels. This is by the water and can be steep but overall fun for kids. There are lots of chances for them to scramble of trees and such.
Patapsco Valley State Park
There are so many areas of Patapsco Valley State Park that would be great to see the changing leaves. We love visiting the Grist Mill Trail in the Avalon/Orange Grove area because the reflection of the leaves in the river is just super pretty.
Rocks State Park
There are two areas of Rocks State Park that would be great for seeing the fall leaves change colors. You can take the short hike to Kilgore Falls. Or, you can drive up to the parking area near King and Queen Seat. If you time the afternoon sun right, the sun will completely light up the trees on the opposite side of the valley!
Fall Festivals and Fall Foliage combination!
So many of the fantastic fall festivals and pumpkin patches in the region are located in spectacularly scenic spots. For great fall views while you have your fall fun, check out Gaver Farm, Summers Farm, Butler’s Orchard, or Magnolia Meadows Farm!
Check out these Fall Fun In Maryland ideas too!
- Pumpkin Picking in Maryland
- Best Apple Orchards in Maryland
- Great ways to enjoy Autumn with your family!
Leaves typically start turning colors in late September in Western Maryland and fall foliage season will last until typically the first week in November. The fall foliage map moves from West to East with peak fall foliage colors being the 2nd and 3rd weeks in October.
There are spectacular places to see the fall leaves change color throughout the state. Deep Creek Lake and Swallow Falls State Park are favorites. There are tons of spots throughout Washington County, Frederick County, and Carroll County. Later in October and early November Harford County, Baltimore County, and Cecil County will have amazing colors. And in November the Eastern Shore will have spectacular fall foliage in places like Chestertown and Tuckahoe State Park.
Typically the second or third week in October is best for seeing leaves at their peak fall foliage colors.