Fall Foliage & Festival Hotline
November 1, 2013
Welcome to the Fall Foliage & Festival Hotline for the weekend of November 2 and 3, brought to you by the Maryland Office of Tourism and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Well, we are now into November, the holiday season is quickly approaching, and despite the mild temperatures and presence of still-green leaves on many trees around the region, winter really is on its way! While most of the leaves have already fallen in Western Maryland, the brilliant orange, yellow and scarlet foliage is at or near peak in the tidewater areas of Central Maryland and the upper Eastern Shore, and it should be worth your while to plan a drive out to either of these regions this weekend.
At the top of the Bay, Elk Neck State Park in Cecil County is reporting some beautiful conditions right now. The park’s sandy beaches, marshlands and heavily-wooded bluffs comprise the peninsula formed by the North East and Elk Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, and several trails meander through the diversified topography, revealing a great variety of plant and animal life. An easy walking trail to the Turkey Point Lighthouse provides a fantastic view of the Elk River and the Chesapeake.
In the Central Maryland region, reports from Patapsco Valley State park indicate the park is quite colorful. For fabulous views of the fall foliage, stop by the Valley Overlook in the Hollowfield Area right off Route 40 near Ellicott City. This weekend would also be the perfect time to take in the two-mile scenic drive along Orange Grove Road in the Avalon section of the park near Elkridge. And with the weather expected to remain mild over the next couple days, why not head up to the McKeldin Area near Marriottsville and enjoy a hike along the park’s Switchback Trail.
Equestrians can enjoy riding at Morgan Run Natural Environment Area, reporting fantastic conditions right now. Located off Route 97 north of Route 27 in Carroll County, this relatively undisturbed area has seven miles of trails running through old farm fields and forests.
Other areas to visit close to the Baltimore-Washington metro area: Gwynnbrook Wildlife Management Area in Owings Mills, Baltimore County; Sugar Loaf Mountain Natural Resource Area in southern Frederick County; Seneca Creek State Park just southwest of Gaithersburg; and Dierssen Wildlife Management Area situated between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River in Montgomery County, offering first-rate opportunities for waterfowl watching and quiet interludes for strollers along the Canal Tow Path.
Or consider a visit to Earleville Wildlife Management Area, in rural southern Cecil County, or the Millington Wildlife Management Area in eastern Kent County, both reporting spectacular conditions right now. These areas, located far off the beaten track, feature hardwood forests dotted with pine stands, various wetlands, fallow managed fields, warm season grasses and open farmland, and support a variety of wildlife including deer, turkey, fox, waterfowl and songbirds. Remember that these areas are also open to hunting this time of year, so be sure to check ahead before venturing out (although Sundays are generally not a problem).
If you’ve spent enough time out exploring the great outdoors this fall, don’t forget about the many festivals taking place around the state this weekend, many designed to give you a jump on holiday shopping!
In the Central Maryland region, the town of Westminster in Carroll County, still reporting lovely conditions across the county’s rolling countryside, will kick off its much-anticipated Christmas Market and Holiday Show this weekend at the Agriculture Center. Wake up over coffee with area locals and those in-the-know, who don’t miss a Saturday during the six-week market season. Juried crafts, Christmas decorations, baked goods and gourmet food items await; the market is open each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Some state park activities going on this weekend: At Patapsco Valley State Park in Howard County, Hidden in Plain Sight - Telling Patapsco's Story through its Historical Artifacts will be held from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Saturday. This easy, 3-mile walk with a volunteer ranger will explore how the area’s early inhabitants lived and prospered off the Patapsco River’s natural resources. Artifacts hidden in plain sight will stimulate your imagination and enable you to see history in a new way. Bring water, a camera and your favorite walking shoes. For all ages. Meet at the Daniels canoe landing. Please call (410) 461-5005 to pre-register or for more information. $2 per person.
Take a trip east to Elk Neck State Park in Cecil County for Constellation Exploration, going on from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday night. Designed for stargazers of all levels - young and old, novice or expert – come out and explore the stars and constellations of a November night sky, complete with games and stories from a park naturalist. $3 per person or $10 for a family of four. Call (410) 287-5333 for more information.
Also on Sunday, Soldier’s Delight Natural Environment Area in Baltimore County will host a Mine History Hike. Join volunteer ranger and mining historian Johnny Johnsson on a two-mile hike to the historic Choate chromium mine, where the history of the area will be supplemented by demonstration of mining artifacts. Participants will have the opportunity to pan chrome sands - kind of like panning for gold! This program is a great family program for ages 10 and up. Meet at Visitors Center off Deer Park Road. The hike is free; call (410) 833-5508 in advance to sign up or to obtain more information.
Or head over to Boordy Vineyards in Baltimore County on Sunday and spend the crisp autumn afternoon in their vintage wine cellar, warming up over a bowl of soup or toasted marshmallows at the first of their Soups in the Cellar weekends. A different seasonal soup will be featured each weekend throughout the month of November, as well as a variety of musical entertainment – this week enjoy the vocal stylings of Maryland-based contemporary folk-Americana singer-songwriter Tony Denikos & Friends.
Further south in Calvert County where the fall foliage is still about a week from peak, Jefferson-Patterson Park outside St. Leonard’s will host American Indian Heritage Day this Saturday, honoring the lasting legacies of Maryland’s native peoples. Visitors will be able to explore a re-created Eastern Woodland Indian village and enjoy demonstrations of traditional and contemporary Native American life, as well as educational exhibits, live entertainment, artisan crafters and lots of good food. The event takes place on the park’s spacious grounds along the Patuxent River, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you’re over on the Eastern Shore, don’t miss Chestertown’s annual Downrigging Weekend. One of the largest annual tall ship and wooden boat festivals on the East Coast, it was originally established to mark the end of the schooner Sultana’s sailing season. Now in its 13th year, the event has grown to become a Kent County tradition as well as a celebration of maritime culture and everything that makes the Chesapeake Bay great. Enjoy a waterfront packed with ships, schooners, and wooden boats; performances by world-class musicians; lectures by nationally-recognized authors and filmmakers; opportunities to go sailing as part of a fleet of “Tall Ships;” and the chance to spend the weekend in one of America’s best preserved historic seaports.
And finally, if you’re out west make a point of attending Frederick County’s 81st Annual Veterans Day Parade, take place this Sunday at 1 p.m. at the intersection of East and West Potomac Streets in the town of Brunswick. Come out to pay tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, as well as cheer on those who continue to do so.
For more information on events around the state this fall, contact the Maryland Office of Tourism at 1-800-MDISFUN or check out their website at www.visitmaryland.org