Watching the Leaves Change

Watching the Leaves Change

Autumn is a beautiful time to spend in Washington County, where the mornings carry a crisp chill, the last of the flowers fade away, and the trees begin to change color.
This is a great time for watching the leaves turn to those brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. Autumn does something to our souls - it invigorates us, makes us smile, and warms our hearts.
Below are some wonderful spots to sit and take in nature and watch the leaves change:
Sideling Hill
6 Miles West of Hancock Between Cumberland and Hagerstown
301-842-2155
Sideling Hill is one of the best rock exposures in Maryland and quite possibly in the entire northeastern United States. Sideling Hill Visitor Center is on Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area's (WMA) 3,000-acres of mixed oak-hickory forest that straddles Sideling Hill Creek. This area in the mountains is a wonderful place for outdoor adventurers; this is a prime location for mountain landscape and wildlife, especially in the spring when the wildflowers of the forest floor and the mountain laurel bloom. The history of the mountains has left scenic cliffs where rocky projections of shale and sandstone. A wide bridge takes visitors from one side of the interstate to the other side, all while enjoying a fabulous, breath-taking view.
Western Maryland Rail Trail
301-842-2155
www.hancockmd.com/WMRT/index.html
The trail provides a unique paved hiking and biking experience. Built on an abandoned railroad bed, this more than 22-mile trail extends from Big Pool to Pearre, paralleling the Potomac River and C&O Canal.
Antietam National Battlefield
Md. 65, Sharpsburg
301-432-5124
General Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North was ended on this battlefield on September 17, 1862. The battle claimed more than 23,000 men killed, wounded, and missing in a single day - more than on any other day of the Civil War - and led to Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. Antietam (Sharpsburg) National Cemetery (5,032 interments; 1,836 unidentified) adjoins the park.
Established as a national battlefield site on August 30, 1890; transferred from War Department on August 10, 1933.
Catoctin Mountain Park
6602 Foxville Rd, Thurmont, MD (20 miles east of Hagerstown, Maryland. From Hagerstown, take Route 77)
301-663-9330
Part of the forested ridge that forms the eastern rampart of the Appalachian Mountains in Maryland, this mountain park has sparkling streams and panoramic vistas of the Monocacy Valley. Camp David, the presidential retreat, is located within the park. It is not visible from the roads and is closed to the public.
Activities: With 25 miles of hiking trails winding through both Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls State Park a variety of experiences are available ranging from easy to strenuous, many leading to outstanding scenic vistas. The roads of Catoctin Mountain Park offer scenic driving all year; but portions of Park Central Road and Manahan Road are closed in winter. Camping, picnicking, wildlife viewing, fly-fishing, cross-country skiing are all available at Catoctin Mountain Park.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
324 E. Main St, Hancock
301-678-5463
205 W. Potomac St, Williamsport
301-582-0813
Visitors can also experience the canal by taking a ride on one of the park's two mule-powered canal boats. These restored boats operate during the summer months at both Great Falls and Georgetown.
The old canal towpath now provides a way for hikers and bikers to see the beautiful Potomac River Valley. A small portion of the towpath near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park doubles as a section of the Appalachian Trail.
Devil's Backbone Park
Md. 68, near Boonsboro
This beautiful park is the second oldest of Washington County's parks. This nine-acre park includes a picnic pavilion, restrooms, play equipment, picnic tables, grills, a drinking fountain, horseshoe court and parking area. A footbridge across the Antietam Creek, which divides the park, provides access to the "island" section of the park as well as to a nature trail, which ascends to the summit of the ridge from which the park takes its name. The park also offers fishing and an access for canoes to the Antietam Creek. There's plenty to do at this large park.
Doub's Woods Park
1307 S. Potomac St, Hagerstown
240-313-2700
Heavily wooded park with performing arts pavilion, picnic areas, picnic pavilion, swings, and outdoor chapel.
Fort Frederick State Park
Big Pool
301-842-2155
Fort Frederick is one of the largest fortifications built by English colonists in North America. It was unique because of its large size and strong stone wall. Most other forts of the period were built of wood and earth. The fort is open to visitors daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day and on weekends during the off-season. Special weekday tours for educational groups during the off-season can be arranged through the park's office. Summer activities include performances by volunteer reactivated military units, guided tours, audio-visual programs and a crafts program.
Gathland State Park
Junction of Gapland and Arnoldstown Rds, Burkittsville
301-791-4767
This beautiful park sits 17 miles southeast of Hagerstown where Gapland Road crosses South Mountain. Gathland State Park was once the mountain home of an unusual man named George Alfred Townsend. During the summer months there are ongoing interpretive featuring Civil War re-enactors. The annual "Living History" weekend always occurs the first weekend after Labor Day and portrays various aspects of the soldiers' life including infantry, cavalry, and artillery demonstrations.
Greenbrier State Park
21843 National Pike, Boonsboro
301-791-4767
Circling a 43-acre lake that provides swimming, fishing and boating. This popular park also offers picnicking, camping, interpretive programs, nature trails and concessions. The park is conveniently located eight miles east of Hagerstown off of U.S. 40.
Maryland Heights at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
304-535-6029
A beautiful park that occupies three states. Site of John Brown's Raid. Town portion offers interpretive programs and private shops. Open year round. Admission.
Pangborn Park
530 Pangborn Blvd, Hagerstown
301-739-8577 x169
This beautiful park features pavilions, play equipment, lighted tennis courts, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, softball fields, a pond, and a garden.
Pen Mar Park
High Rock Rd, Cascade
240-313-2700
This redeveloped 42-acre park provides a panoramic view of the Cumberland Valley. An amusement park in the early 1900s, it includes pavilion sites for dances, concerts and other entertainment on Sundays throughout the summer, including Everybody's Day in August.
Pleasant Valley Park
Southern Washington County
This beautiful park has a multipurpose field, picnic pavilion & tables, play equipment, and a basketball/tennis court.
South Mountain State Park
301-791-4767
This state park runs along the ridge of South Mountain from Pen-Mar to Weaverton, linking many of the local parks and the Appalachian Trail. Camping is limited to shelters along the trail.
Washington Monument State Park
East of Boonsboro
301-791-4767
This park is home to the first monument built in honor of George Washington in addition to offering camping for youth groups, picnicking, and shelters. Located four miles east of Boonsboro, the park also has access to the Appalachian Trail.