If you’ve decorated your front porch with brightly colored mums and gourds and with a witch or scarecrow keeping watch it’s probably because you’re one of many who cite Autumn as your favorite time of the year.
Unfortunately, that craving might be leading to some disappointment, since in most places around the state you’re still seeing mostly green in the trees and shrubs. For that, you can thank our mild, dry summer that gave us so many sunny, rain-free weekends, according to Hunter Outten, the Chief Meteorologist at TV Delmarva.
“In most years, the peak of our color comes during the last week of the month (meaning October), but I would say things are running a little bit behind. Temperatures haven’t been a factor in the matter since we have been running near or slightly below average since the start of the fall season.”
“The delay and the lack of color right now has been the major drought situation the whole east coast has been seeing since late last summer. Many locations around the state have dealt with moderate and severe drought categories, which lead to a very dull change of color.”
The good news, Hunter says, is that the change probably will happen very quickly.
“We should start seeing the colors really start popping off after the 15th in pretty rapid succession. Upstate, we’re already starting to see some color, and the first week of November the real show will begin.”
Favorite Places to See Fall Color in Delaware
So if you’re disappointed that you don’t have enough color in your neighborhood, you won’t have to go far to find it by the end of October and early November. Here are some favorite spots:
Upstate – Wilmington, Newark, Hockessin, Smyrna
- Climb aboard the Wilmington and Western Railroad. Since 1867, this historic railway line has carried goods, workers and pleasure travelers through some of Delaware’s most beautiful countryside. Today the steam and diesel powered passenger trains travel on 10 miles of track between Greenbank and Hockessin. Hop on to see beautiful foliage, and enjoy all kinds of beautiful and historic vistas of the countryside and small towns.
- White Clay Creek State Park in Newark. If you enjoy hiking and biking, you’ll have a great time at this park. You’ll drive in on a scenic road that leads to a Nature Center, where you’ll find maps for trails of varying lengths that will showcase beautiful fall foliage along with lots of historic architecture.
- Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin. This is one of the lesser known spots in the Brandywine Valley and a great place for observing native plants and trees against a backdrop of restored and preserved DuPont properties. You can plan your trip with help from this schedule of special events.
- Winterthur in Wilmington. Winterthur has been celebrated for centuries for its vast expanses of land that’s beautiful every season, especially in the fall, when the historic mansion built by H.F. duPont is surrounded by 1,000 acres of beautiful fall color. Whether you live up north or somewhere else in the state, it’s a wonderful day-trip destination offering tours of the 175-room home along with meticulously tended gardens and The Enchanted Woods, a special place for grandkids that’s been created by the Winterthur Fairies and Elves.
- Lums Pond State Park in Bear. If you’re fortunate enough to have those grandkids for a few more days you should consider taking a hayride at this vast park offering miles of trails around the scenic pond that glows with autumn color.
- Blackbird State Forest in Smyrna. This is another great spot for a day trip, with miles of hiking trails and the opportunity to kayak on Blackbird Pond and Blackbird Creek. If you’ve got camping gear, you can plan an overnighter and snuggle in your tent and by the fire ring as the temperatures drop. You’ll find beautiful fall foliage everywhere and will be able to walk a long way without too much company.
- Bombay Hook in Smyrna. If you want to experience gorgeous traditional autumn leaves and vast marshlands, take a trip to Bombay Hook. You can see a lot of it in your car or on your bike, and paddle along the waterways where the grasses are a beautiful greenish gold in the fall. You might also plan to visit in the winter, when the white snow geese gather for spectacular shows of nature.
Central Delaware – Felton and Dover
- Killens Pond in Felton. If you’re up for an easy and scenic 2-mile hike, you’ll have a great time enjoying the scenery here, especially if you’re a bird watcher.
- Dover. If you want to see fall foliage and lovely preserved architecture and take part in all kinds of special events celebrating Delaware’s history and culture, Dover is another great place to visit. You’ll see a lot of it on The Green and the rest of the area around Delaware’s beautiful state capital.
Southern Delaware – Milton and Laurel
- Prime Hook in Milton. Another top spot for fall foliage, vast marshland vistas, bird-and-nature-watching and easy walking and driving is Prime Hook, located east of Milton. It’s set on 10,000 acres of land and water and stretches from the forests alongside Route 1 all the way to the Delaware Bay. You’ll find 270 species of birds, reptiles, mammals and amphibians and views that go for miles.
- Trap Pond in Laurel. This is one of the most well-known and well-loved nature spots in the entire state, thanks to its famous baldycypress trees, which grow right out of the vast marshlands and turn a spectacular shade of cinnamon and orange in the fall. This is yet another place where you can hike, kayak and camp amid beautiful scenery year-round.