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Posted at 01:52 PM ET, 10/21/2011

Fall foliage peaking within an hour of Washington, D.C.


Webcam image of the Pinnacles Research Area (elevation above 3,000 feet) in Shenandoah National Park at 1:15 p.m. Friday where color peaked just a few days ago. Color is peaking now at lower elevations in the park. ( National Park Service )
Fall color is already showing up around the D.C. metro region, and if you’re on the lookout for peak color, you need not go far. Prime fall color can be found as close as Frederick county in Maryland and Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

Fortunately, our state governments offer comprehensive fall foliage reports, which I’ll excerpt below. Follow the provided links for the full detailed reports.

Also, please send us your best fall foliage pictures. Post to our Facebook page and/or on Twitter. (As a last resort, you may email to weather AT washpost.com). We will post some of our favorites in the next couple weeks.

Keep reading for Virginia and Maryland fall foliage summary information...

VIRGINIA FOLIAGE

From the Virginia Department of Forestry:


Virginia foliage index showing 65% color in the mountains (higher above 2,000-3000 feet), 25% in the piedmont, and 5% in coastal regions. ( Virginia.org )
No matter where you are in Virginia, maple trees are putting on their autumn finery. Red maple, a highly adaptable species, grows statewide. It shows its characteristic blaze of color in places as varied as eastern swamps, Piedmont hills, urban streets, and mountain ridges. In the mountains, sugar maples add a sunny, vibrant orange to the landscape. Fall color season is underway across the state.

In Southwest Virginia, peak colors can still be seen in many areas. The Mount Rogers area is at or just past peak. Peak colors are expected within the next week at lower elevations. In the New River Valley, colors are near peak in the higher elevations, and approaching peak in the lower elevations. In the Allegheny Mountains, colors are past peak. In the Shenandoah Valley, approximately 50% of the trees have color and are at or approaching peak. Elsewhere in the state, the Piedmont has approximately 25% color. The Coastal Plain is expected to peak in mid-November.

Here’s an excerpt from Virginia.org’s detailed report on color in the Shenandoah:

Most of the color is currently in the north and south districts of the park, with an estimated 90% color change. Peak color occurred just a few days ago in the park’s highest elevations along the 34-mile stretch of Skyline Drive between Thornton Gap (Route 211) and Swift Run Gap (Route 33). This central district of the park is home to Shenandoah’s highest peaks where many leaves have fallen. Trees above approximately 3,300 feet have lost most of their leaves.

MARYLAND

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources chimes in with this report (follow the link for more detail):

For leaf peepers looking for where to go this weekend, the autumn foliage is close to peak in Frederick County and most western Central Maryland areas, and in a few places the leaves are already starting to drop.

By  |  01:52 PM ET, 10/21/2011

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