Havre de Grace Fall Colors Guide

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The heat and greenery of summer are slowly fading into the colder temperatures and warmer colors of Maryland fall.

Havre de Grace is ideally situated to enjoy the beautiful colors in Susquehannah state park and the surrounding area. We all enjoy seeing the leaves change and fall as autumn takes hold, but why do leaves change color? And how do you tell if it will be a colorful year?

Why do leaves fall?

Trees fit into one of two categories, deciduous or evergreens, evergreen trees maintain their foliage through the winter, and deciduous trees lose their leaves. Evergreen trees can keep their leaves/needles due to a waxy coating which helps them retain water and prevents freezing.

The leaves of deciduous trees require much more water and nutrients than evergreens and, thus, cannot maintain their leaves through the winter. The leaves of deciduous trees do not “die” in the fall; they reabsorb the nutrients in their leaves back into the tree and use those nutrients to survive the winter.

Why do leaves change color?

The Sugar Maples, which line the banks of the Susquehanna in Harford County, are famous for their brilliant red leaves. This coloration is due to the tree producing a compound known as Anthocyanin during periods of unfavorable weather.

In response to an early or especially cold and dry fall, Sugar Maples produce extra Anthocyanin because it acts as an antioxidant and natural sunscreen for the plant.

As Sugar Maples turn a brilliant red, other trees display golden or yellow hues. Aspen, birch, and hickory trees are all famous for their yellow leaves. Yellow pigmentation is a result of chlorophyll leaving the leaves. Yellow is always present in the leaves and usually is hidden by the abundance of green chlorophyll during spring and summer.

Orange is present on almost all trees in the Susquehannah basin and results from a compound called beta-carotene being left in the leaves as the chlorophyll is removed. Beta-carotene is the same compound that gives carrots their orange color.

Where to enjoy fall colors near Havre de Grace

The North Loop Trail at McLhinney State Park: This 1.3-mile trail near downtown Havre de Grace offers breathtaking views of the upper Chesapeake. As the closest trail to HDG, this trail is well-loved and frequented by residents. Dogs are permitted, but only while on a leash.

Susquehanna State Park: This large recreation area is located along the banks of the Susquehannah river and provides scenic views of the river and surrounding foliage. Trails run throughout the park, including numerous mountain biking trails. With its abundance of trees, Susquehanna State Park is the perfect place to take a relaxing hike and enjoy the vibrant leaves.

Rowlandsville Fishing Park: If fishing is your outdoor activity of choice, be sure to stop by Rowlandsville Fishing Park this fall. Located off Basin Run Road in Conowingo, visitors to this park can peacefully fish in Basin Run River while gazing at the trees on the banks.

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