It’s that time of the year when forests of green transform into vibrant oranges, burnt reds and dark purples. As the crisp autumn breeze sets in, these colorful leaves begin making their appearance. 

Taking a few hours to appreciate the natural aesthetic is a fun seasonal activity that gets students out of the library and makes the cooler temperatures much more bearable.

While students can see the leaves slowly changing color on campus, their view doesn’t have nearly the same magical effect as some other spots in Maryland. Here are a few recommendations of places to visit this fall when you’re looking to be fully immersed in autumn’s natural beauty. 

Great Falls Maryland 

This national park has access points in Maryland and Virginia, offering a breathtaking view of the Potomac River. Whether you opt for a hike along the trail or a more casual picnic at the park, the sounds of roaring waterfalls come alive with the colors of fall. 

Beyond a hiking trail, the park offers a multitude of outdoor activities such as biking, boating, climbing and fishing. The three waterfall overlooks are only a short walk from the visitor center on the Virginia side, allowing you to get an up close view of the foliage without having to walk for miles. Junior accounting major, Elaina Marousek said this is one of her main destinations while at school as it’s only a 30 to 40 minute drive from campus.

Patapsco Valley State Park

Located closer to Baltimore, this state park extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River with more than 200 miles of trails marked with stunning fall foliage scenery.  

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Patapsco Valley is another one of Marousek’s favorite locations. She enjoys an area within the park called Cascade Falls, a 2.3-mile loop trail that spills into a waterfall perfect after a short hike. You may even spot the once endangered bald eagle hunting for fish. 

Like Great Falls, the park offers other recreational activities including camping and archery. The ample opportunities provide a great way to get active while getting to admire the fall leaves. 

Marousek said it usually takes her around the same amount of time to get to Patapsco as Great Falls — around 30 to 40 minutes.

Sugarloaf Mountain 

This geological wonder is a Maryland landmark, known for its sensational views and enchanting landscape, vitalized by the rich hues of fall. 

Standing at an elevation of 1,282 feet, Sugarloaf Mountain is the perfect hiking location with the perfect aerial view of the foliage. Visitors can enjoy the cool mountain air while taking in the beauty of the red and white oak trees.

There are many trails to choose from, each differing in length and difficulty, offering options for both beginning and experienced hikers.

Junior chemical engineering major Jess Gorski enjoys the easy hiking trail, the countryside view and the peaceful environment. 

“Sugarloaf has people hiking but the area in general is a little more quiet, which is really nice,” Gorski said. “In the fall once the foliage starts thinning you can see really far.” 

While it’s a little further out than the other options, around a 50-minute drive, the location offers a striking panoramic view of vibrant fall colors among the hilly landscape that makes it a worthwhile drive. 

Lake Artemesia 

This location likely sounds familiar to University of Maryland students due to its close proximity to College Park. It’s a little more than a mile away from the university and walkable depending on your location. 

It’s not uncommon for students to do leisurely activities at this 38-acre lake. It is not only accessible but strikingly picturesque, especially during the fall. Beyond the miles of hiking trails, the park contains an aquatic garden and fishing spots.

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Unlike the other locations, getting to Lake Artemesia doesn’t require a car or any public transportation. It’s a quick walk for most students at this university, making it the perfect option to appreciate the magic of fall any day of the week. 

Sophomore computer science major Zach Hiner said he goes to the lake to clear his mind — the peaceful environment providing a soothing relief from stress. 

“The way the sun reflects off the water sometimes is really pretty and the trees in the fall, oh my god,” Hiner said. ”I love just hearing the rushing water and seeing the scenery.”

Quiet Waters Park 

Another favorite location for Gorski, this county park in Annapolis has a beautiful landscape to admire along with an around 6-mile paved trail along the South River. If you’re looking for more than a walk, the park also has a dog beach, playground and picnic area to explore. The scenic waterfront and surrounding gardens make this destination perfect for admiring the changing leaves. 

Whether you decide to take a day trip, hike or a walk near College Park, the striking lush browns, reds and oranges that take over the trees is a must-see during the autumn season.