Best Time to See Fall Foliage in Maryland (+ Map of 21 Places)

Maryland has some of the most stunning fall foliage in the country. There are numerous places to enjoy the changing leaves in Western Maryland, from the mountains to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

There are many evergreen pines in Maryland, but there are also many deciduous trees that change color beautifully in the fall.

The state’s stunning golden, bronze, and scarlet foliage displays are attributed to white oak, chestnut oak, black oak, northern red oak, red maple, sugar maple, and silver maple.

The peak time to see fall foliage in Maryland

Leaves can change color as early as late September and as late as early November. Peak times are typically the second and third weeks of October, but this varies depending on location.

Peak foliage season is generally in mid-to-late October, according to the Smoky Mountains U.S. Fall Foliage Map.

The leaves begin to turn yellow in early to mid-October, and by the end of the month, the trees are covered in stunning orange and red hues!

This event’s incredible popularity can be a double-edged sword, as many visitors arrive for the season, causing some crowding in the most popular spots.

Where do you drive for fall foliage?

While the entire state of Maryland is absolutely gorgeous during this time of the year, driving a little farther away from the crowds can make your experience even better.

Set off on a road trip with the kids for the weekend to enjoy the beautiful fall colors of the season.

Best Places to See Fall Foliage

The best place to see fall foliage in Maryland is undoubtedly Deep Creek Lake. With its crisp air and stunning scenery, Deep Creek is the perfect place to enjoy the autumn leaves.

Deep Creek Lake is located in Garrett County, Maryland, and is a popular spot for both locals and visitors alike.

21 of The Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Maryland

Maryland undoubtedly has best places to see Fall Foliage.

Here are the best places in Maryland to see fall foliage for both residents and visitors.

Despite the fact that the C & O Canal is 184.5 miles long, this section in Williamsport is popular with locals. It provides views of the canal and Cushwa Basin, as well as just enough history to keep visitors interested. The fall foliage is also quite nice.

#1 C&O Canal

Brunswick, MD 21716. 40 W Potomac St. | Website

The C&O Canal brought significant growth to Maryland as industry expanded west during the early nineteenth century.

The area surrounding the canal, now known as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park, is home to 20,000 acres of trees, including the pawpaw, silver maple, tulip poplar, box elder, and American sycamore, among many others.

This historic park offers numerous opportunities to enjoy the scenic landscape while participating in exciting outdoor activities.

Hike the Gold Mine Trail to the Great Falls Overlook for a breathtaking view. Visit Widewater, which is on the Potomac River’s historic route. When you take in the colorful leaves on the trees, you get a double dose of beauty and reflection in the calm water.

Don’t forget to bring your camera! Each month, the Canal Trust hosts a photo contest to highlight the best photos taken in the park.

#2 Deep Creek Lake

McHenry, MD 21541 | Website

Deep Creek Lake, recently named one of the best places in the country to see fall foliage, is ablaze with autumnal hues. Whether you’re relaxing by the lake or driving around the scenic mountain roads, you’ll be blown away by this unique location, especially during peak fall foliage.

Deep Creek Lake is a popular year-round destination in western Maryland, and fall in Deep Creek is simply breathtaking.

Early October is prime fall color season in this part of the state, and Deep Creek provides a variety of opportunities to enjoy the scenery. One of these Maryland fall foliage drives would be an excellent place to begin. The short tour lasts about 30 minutes, while the extended tour lasts nearly two hours.

Several famous Civil War sites are located near Deep Creek Lake, providing an excellent opportunity to learn about history while walking through Maryland’s fall foliage.

And don’t forget about the lake itself! Hire a boat, kayak, or canoe and travel to the lake’s center for a 360-degree view of colorful foliage.

If you visit Deep Creek in mid-October, you must attend the Autumn Glory Festival, which celebrates the beauty of the local fall foliage with parades, music, craft shows, a farmers market, and other activities.

Deep Creek Lake
Source: Deep Creek Lake website

#3 Swallow Falls State Park

2470 Maple Glade Rd, Oakland, MD 21550 | Website

While the changing colors of the leaves are lovely, they aren’t the only thing to see at Swallow Falls State Park in the fall. Take a walk along the Youghiogheny River and admire the fall foliage and the 53-foot waterfall.

Swallow Falls has a 1 1/4 mile long trail that leads to some of the most breathtaking scenery. Don’t forget to bring your hiking boots.

#4 Patapsco Valley State Park

8020 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD | Website

This Maryland state park has everything an adventurer could want, especially in the fall. The swinging bridge shown above is a unique and picturesque experience in the Old Line State.

The Hollofield Area, which is only a small portion of the 16,000+ acres that comprise the Patapsco Valley State Park, has some of the most breathtaking views of the Patapsco River Valley.

Every fall, as the temperatures drop, brilliant greens give way to bright yellows, stunning golds, and rich reds along the riverbanks, and the Overlook at Hollofield Area is an ideal spot to take in the beauty.

While there are some advanced hiking and biking options in Patapsco Valley, visiting the Hollofield Area is more of a low-key experience. This location is ideal for a quick break from the daily grind.

Visitors who want to get some exercise while admiring the scenery and breathing in the crisp autumn air can go on a short hike before continuing on to see more of Maryland’s beautiful fall foliage along the easy-to-traverse Ole Ranger or Peaceful Pond Trails.

#5 Elk Neck State Park

4395 Turkey Point Rd, North East, MD 21901 | Website

Elk Neck State Park, located between the Chesapeake Bay and the Elk River, has beaches, marshland, and of course a dense green forest that turns into a spectacular sea of reds and golds this time of year.

You could even camp and wake up under a colorful canopy before continuing your adventure. Turkey Point Lighthouse, located on a 100-foot bluff with stunning views of the Bay (and all of the trees that surround it) at the very southern tip of the Elk Neck Peninsula, is popular with visitors.

Climb another 35 feet to the lighthouse’s top for an even better view of the spectacular foliage along the water.

#6 Cunningham Falls State Park

14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd, Thurmont, MD 21788 | Website

Cunningham Falls State Park is a fantastic place to go for a fall hike, and the fall colors are spectacular, both around the waterfall and in the surrounding area of William Houck Lake! 

This park, located just outside of Frederick in the Catoctin Mountains, is divided into two sections:

  • The William Houck Area (a few miles west of Thurmont) – a lake, waterfall, and camping area
  • The Manor Area (a few miles south of Thurmont) – which includes the Scales and Tales Aviary, camping, and the historic Catoctin Iron Furnace.

Hiking or canoeing in the park is an excellent way to take in the changing foliage. Want to extend your leaf-peeping expedition? Campsites and camper cabins can be rented until October.

#7 Seneca Creek State Park

11950 Clopper Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20878 | Website

If you want to feel all the fall vibes in Maryland without doing any work, go to Seneca Creek State Park in Montgomery County!

This breathtaking Maryland park spans 6,300 acres and runs for 14 scenic miles along Seneca Creek. The 90-acre Clopper Lake is surrounded by hiking trails, picnic areas, and a playground.

If you’re feeling lazy, simply drive over to King Fisher’s viewpoint for a panoramic view of the entire lake. If you’re feeling particularly daring, hike down from King Fisher’s toward the lake and to the right to cross the bridge. The bridge has one of the best lake views in the fall!

Another lovely spot for fall colosr at this Maryland state park is the boathouse.

#8 Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge

1730 Eastern Neck Rd, Rock Hall, MD 21661 | Website

The Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge provides numerous opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Hike the park’s easy trails, observe beautiful local birds in their natural habitat, and enjoy the stunning fall colors.

It is highly recommend taking in the breathtaking views of the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay from one of the refuge’s two boardwalks, which is also a great place for photos! Picnic areas are also scattered throughout the refuge, ideal for a relaxing picnic lunch among the trees.

You can also stop by the Visitor Contact Station to see exhibits on the history of the refuge as well as more information on the various habitats that the animals here call home.

#9 Gunpowder Falls State Park

7200 Graces Quarters Rd, Middle River, MD | Website

The lush forests of Gunpowder Falls State Park’s various sections are stunning in the fall. The Hammerman Area, where you can enjoy the autumn colors alongside the beach, is a particularly beautiful area for fall foliage.

Gunpowder Falls State Park is a full-day excursion. Established in 1959, the park has 1800 acres of land and more than 100 miles of trails. Hiking trails, biking, and horseback riding are all great ways to enjoy the fall foliage. If you’re a water lover, take in the changing leaves from the water while strolling along the 1,500-foot-long beach.

#10 Millington Wildlife Management Area

33626 Maryland Line Rd, Massey, MD 21650 | Website

The list of Maryland’s best fall foliage spots would be incomplete without mentioning Millington W.M.A.

The 4,000-acre preserve contains four large ponds stocked with a variety of fish species, ideal for a relaxing afternoon of catch-and-release fishing. Keep in mind that the trails are maintained but not marked, so consult a map of the area before you go. Keep an eye out for woodpeckers, Scarlet tanagers, beavers, and other native wildlife on your hike.

This area is another great spot for bird watching, so bring your best binoculars and camera for candid shots of local waterfowl! All of this and more can be enjoyed while surrounded by the beautiful golds and reds of autumn leaves.

#11 Sassafras NRMA

13761 Turners Creek Rd, Kennedyville, MD 21645 | Website

Sassafras NRMA, located along the banks of a sparkling river, is a great place to stop on your outdoor adventures, with 9 miles of scenic trails open from sunrise to sunset. You’ll walk along old dirt roads, wide-open fields, and winding forested paths.

View the Sassafras River and the Chesapeake Bay from the high south-facing banks, and take it all in as the fall colors paint an elegant picture of the area’s tranquil beauty.

Those interested in learning more about the area’s history can visit the Knock’s Folly Visitor Center, which features exhibits on the local Tockwogh tribe as well as Captain John Smith’s historical visit to the Turner’s Creek area.

#12 Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway, which runs 419 miles along Eastern Maryland’s coastal country roads, is the closest one to Brampton.

The route is easily accessible because it runs right through Chestertown, MD, and it features breathtaking scenery just waiting for a photo opportunity.

Catoctin Mountains
Source: Catoctin Mountains website

#13 Catoctin Mountains

14707 Park Central Road Thurmont, MD 21788 | Website

One of the best place to see fall foliage in Maryland is in the Catoctin Mountains. There are many different types of trees in the Catoctins and the leaves change color at different times, so the colors can last for several weeks.

Catoctin Mountain Park has interpretive programs, hikes, and demonstrations for people of all ages. Here, your children can also become junior rangers. The fall foliage is stunning, with the leaves changing from green to gorgeous shades of yellow, red, and orange.

Catoctin Mountain State Park, located in the mountains of Western Maryland, features a forest of oak, hickory, and tulip poplar trees, the leaves of which turn brilliant colors in autumn. Throughout October, visitors can join one of the Park Ranger-led Fall Color Hikes.

If you want to go it alone, you can get the East Trails Hiking Map. Hikes ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous are available.

#14 Tuckahoe State Park

13070 Crouse Mill Rd, Queen Anne, MD 21657 | Website

Tuckahoe State Park has beautiful fall foliage and about 20 miles of trails for biking, running, and even horseback riding.

You can even have a picnic lunch while admiring the spectacular fall foliage. If you enjoy kayaking with your family, canoes and kayaks are available on rent.

If you enjoy kayaking, here are some fantastic places to go kayaking in Maryland.

With 60 acres of lake to explore, take a boat or canoe out on the water. Following that, you can enjoy a delicious picnic lunch by the lake while listening to the soothing sounds of gently flowing water.

Around this time of year, Monarch butterflies can also be seen in the park, and there’s no better time to take a look around and see the wonderful little creatures pollinating local wildflowers!

No matter how you spend your day there, make sure to take photos of the vibrant fall colors to take home with you.

#15 Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

2145 Key Wallace Drive Cambridge, MD | Website

The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, which was originally established as a waterfowl sanctuary, has some of the best bird-watching opportunities in Maryland.

The refuge is open all year, but waterfowl numbers peak in the fall, making it the ideal time to visit, especially for birdwatchers. Keep an eye out for majestic Bald Eagles, as Blackwater has the highest concentration of nesting Bald Eagles on the entire Atlantic Coast!

A hike through the refuge, known as the “Everglades of the North,” is a must.

It features a diverse range of habitats, from tidal marshes and wetlands to pine forests. The Marsh Edge Trail, the Key Wallace Trail, and other scenic hikes as well as the Tubman Road Trail are available.

#16 Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

171 Shoreline Drive Harpers Ferry | Website

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, located about an hour outside of Washington in Harpers Ferry. The park encompasses over 2,300 acres and extends into Maryland and Virginia.

A variety of scenic hiking trails, the historic town, ranger-guided tours, craft shops, museums, and restaurants are available to visitors.

The Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is open all year, but some areas may be inaccessible during the winter.

Admission to the park is more expensive if you arrive by car rather than by foot or bicycle, but if you live in the area and plan to visit frequently, you can save money by purchasing an annual pass.

You can visit places like Antietam National Battlefield by car or on foot. The War Department Observation Tower at Bloody Lane is 60 feet tall and offers a 360-degree view of the battlefield and surrounding area.

A trail system connects the entire park, allowing you to enjoy the fall colors that surround you. If you’re visiting Antietam, don’t miss the beautiful maple trees along Main Street in Sharpsburg.

#17 Antietam National Battlefield

302 E Main St, Sharpsburg, MD 21782 | Website

Antietam National Battlefield is a National Park Service-protected area in Sharpsburg, Washington County, northwestern Maryland, along Antietam Creek.

The War Department Observation Tower at Bloody Lane is 60 feet tall and offers a 360-degree view of the battlefield and surrounding area. A trail system connects the entire park, allowing you to enjoy the fall colors that surround you.

If you’re visiting Antietam, don’t miss the beautiful maple trees along Main Street in Sharpsburg. They were planted many years ago to provide shade for veterans who came into the train station and walked through town to the National Cemetery and battlefield.

#18 Sugarloaf Mountain

7901 Comus Road Dickerson, MD 20842 | Website

Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, Maryland, has stunning views. Sugarloaf, at an elevation of 1282 feet, towers over the surrounding farmland by more than 800 feet. This mountain is owned by Stronghold, but it is open to the public. There are four hiking trails available 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

The quickest way to the peak is to park at the East View Parking Lot and take the orange trail up, which is about a quarter mile one way.

#19 Annapolis Rock

Near Boonsboro, Maryland | Website

Annapolis Rock in Maryland is a stunning autumn hike! This hike is extremely popular due to the stunning views of fall foliage it provides. It’s about a 5-mile round trip.

There are so many things to do in Annapolis and in the fall it’s no different. You can enjoy one of the local farms for some beautiful fall scenery, hayrides, pumpkin picking and more fall festivities.
Although Annapolis is not well-known as a fall foliage destination, it may be the best time to visit. A walking tour in the crisp air and changing leaves of the US Naval Academy creates a memorable experience.

#20 Loch Raven Reservoir

Baltimore County, Maryland | Website

Loch Raven Reservoir is breathtakingly beautiful and has several easy hikes for kids. You can go on a one-hour hike, bring a picnic and relax by the water, or even rent a kayak! The autumn colors are absolutely stunning!

#21 Fall foliage train rides in Maryland

This Maryland locomotive adventure is ideal for those looking for a scenic excursion by steam train.

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad operates all year, but the train rides are most popular in autumn, when the fall foliage is at its peak.

The path starts in Cumberland and heads west through the Allegheny Mountains. Keep an eye out for the iron truss bridge, Helmstetter’s Horseshoe Curve, and the Piney Mountain Brush Tunnel.

Map of Places to see the Fall Foliage in MD

Looking for more fall fun in Maryland?

Check out some of these popular posts from Our Kids:

Photo of author

Michaela Lee

Michaela lives in Northern Virginia and is a mom of 2 young kids. She enjoys writing, reading and going new places with her family.

Pin It on Pinterest