Fall foliage has reached its zenith, and beautiful scenes can be found over much of the Washington region. Even with cooler weather on the way, quality color should last for at least another week.

Overwhelming warmth for much of the fall delayed the color change by one to two weeks compared to most years. But recent chillier nights have helped move things along.

Colors have really popped in the past week. Some patches of green remain, especially as one heads south and east of the District, but most places are awash in a kaleidoscope of color.


According to the Foliage Report, a website tracking fall color across the country, a good chunk of the area attained peak foliage as of Monday.

The peak arrived after the coldest first week of November in a decade. Warm weather followed, including three straight 70-degree afternoons, but the lengthening autumn nights remained cool and probably accentuated the color.

Just look out the window or, if you’re a city dweller, take a short walk, drive or bike ride to take in the vibrant scenes.

If you drive into the mountains, you’ll see the foliage is past peak, but you might encounter some of the season’s first flakes of snow in the high elevations. In West Virginia, the best color is long gone, so we’re omitting it from this week’s report.

The District

Most of the District is seeing peak color, but there is still some variability among the tree types. The warm fall extended the leaf-changing season, so some of the early-changing trees are now bare while the slower trees still show some green.

Be on the lookout for ginkgos — the ancient tree that can live up to 1,000 years — in the time ahead. Their fruit is known for smelling bad, but their vibrant yellow hues are spectacular at their very short peak. The transition from green to yellow is starting. Once the switch is completed, full leaf fall can rapidly occur, in as little as a day.


According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, counties north of Prince George’s are now past peak, with prime fall color confined mostly to Southern Maryland. That said, its reports over the past few weeks have tended to be a little ahead of the actual leaf progression, and parts of Montgomery, Howard and Anne Arundel counties still have peak foliage.


The best the state has to offer at the moment is right in our backyards.

“The Piedmont varies from peak to just past peak coloration, with oaks being the last trees to give up their green,” writes the Virginia Department of Forestry in its Nov. 10 update.

If you’re headed into higher elevations west, you’ll encounter past peak conditions with yellows predominant.

In its final foliage update video for the year, Shenandoah National Park indicates lower elevations are still holding on to significant color. In high elevations, “you might have to look a little harder, but it’s still there,” it said.

Weekend weather forecast

The mildest leaf viewing conditions may have come and gone with temperatures dipping and winds picking up. This weekend, disturbances riding along the jet stream mean a good deal of daytime cloudiness, especially Saturday, and even the chance of a shower.

The chilly temperatures linger into early next week, with highs mostly between 50 and 55, before moderating midweek. Winds may be a bit gusty on Saturday, topping 20 mph at times, but generally the leaf fall should be gradual.

The lack of extreme weather over the next week or so should prolong prime leaf viewing. There are signs of colder, more turbulent weather by the week of Thanksgiving, when we should be nearing the end of the leaf season. Maybe by then we’ll also be looking out for our first chance of snow.

Fall foliage photos

A selection of autumn scenes from social media:


Previous updates

Keep up with the leaf change through government websites for Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. This is the final CWG update for the fall 2021 season.