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Fall Foliage Nature Watch in Maryland

When will fall foliage hit its peak in Maryland? That all depends on a number of factors, but most experts agree that the second half of October usually brings the best colors to the state.

According to a Smoky Mountains guide that maps peak foliage times across the country, Maryland will reach colorful heights on October 14 — though spots of color will, of course, be visible earlier and later than that.

Another site, The Foliage Network, predicts leaf changes according to precipitation and temperature trends, which can affect when and for how long the tree changes last. Marek D. Rzonca, who runs the site, says that warmer-than-average temperatures throughout Maryland in September and October may delay peak changes.

Additionally, the changes also depend on your location within the state. Stronger winds along the coastline tend to cause trees to shed their leaves earlier than places inland. Trees at higher altitude elevations will hold on to their leaves for longer periods of time.

“As you can see, trying to forecast the foliage season is extremely complicated,” said Rzonca.

As for the best places to go leaf-peeping, many Maryland state parks offer hiking or driving opportunities to get a glimpse at the seasons’ finest. Elk Neck State Park and Patapsco Valley State Park both make for easy day trips from Crisfield, though many campsites remain open through the end of October for those looking for a longer stay. Campgrounds and RV parks throughout the country are estimated to generate $5 billion in annual revenue from campers all year round.

Patapsco Valley offers 220 miles of multi-use trails, which has earned it the nickname “Moab of the east.” The southern portion of the park tends to attract more visitors than the north side, which has its own set of pros and cons.

“A lot of the other areas are really overused, kind of loved to death,” said park assistant manager Joe Vogelpohl. “It’s good to get somewhere and feel like you’re kind of away and your family might actually have a spot kind of to themselves.”

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