10/07/2011 05:44 pm ET | Updated Nov 28, 2011

Maryland Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide

Maryland fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing Maryland fall foliage. — Saira Bajwa

Sugarloaf Mountain

At an elevation of 1,282 feet, Sugarloaf Mountain is the perfect vantage point to take in the changing colors of oaks, tulip poplars, black gums and eastern hemlocks, in addition to a variety of other trees and plants. Sugarloaf Mountain -- which is a monadnock, or a "mountain that remains after the erosion of the surrounding land" -- is also a Registered Natural Landmark -- the earliest known map of Sugarloaf dates back to 1707, drawn by a Swiss explorer. Visitors can hike or ride horses through miles of trails that weave through diverse wildlife.

7901 Comus Road, Dickerson, MD 20842 | Get Directions

Swallow Falls State Park

Swallow Falls State Park is home to the Youghiogheny River, which rages past gorges and river banks flush with rare and endangered plants and wildlife. Eastern hemlocks and white pines add splashes of color throughout the park, creating striking vistas. The 53-foot Muddy Creek Falls waterfall is even more memorable during mid-September, when the color of its surrounding forest turns golden yellow and fiery red.

1182 Swallow Falls Road, Oakland, MD 21550 | Get Directions

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park offers the glories of autumn . Today, the park's many trails still offer breathtaking views of vibrant fall foliage, featuring oak, sassafras and red maple leaves. For a sweeping view of the changing colors of autumn, visit the Patapsco Valley Overlook, which offers a dramatic view along the river.

Victory Highway, Ellicott City, MD 21043 | Get Directions

Autumnal scenes from Calvert County, Maryland.

Did we miss a Maryland fall-foliage spot? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.

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