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Enjoying the fall foliage at Robert E. Lee Park

I will miss the warm nights, swimming pools, fireflies and fireworks that make up summers in Maryland, but with the crisp fall air coming in, I am reminded of why autumn is my favorite season. There is nothing better than warm apple cider, cozy sweaters, pumpkin picking and the gorgeous fall foliage that surrounds this region.

Technically, autumn means the north pole begins to move away from the sun, therefore the sun rises lower in the sky so the days start getting shorter. Physically, this means that every fall, nature puts on a gorgeous show, with leaves changing to brilliant reds, striking oranges and bright yellows. My morning commute and evening walks are saturated with amazing views of this natural phenomenon. According to the Weather Channel, fall foliage is in peak bloom now, at the end of October.

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If I am looking for an outdoor spot to enjoy all of the vibrant hues, I cannot think of a better local natural gem than Robert E. Lee Park. The park is located in Baltimore County off of the Falls Road exit on I-83, only about a 15 minute drive from Reisterstown. The main entrance of the park has an address of 1000 Lakeside Drive, Baltimore. As you drive down the long wooded drive flanked with large local rocks, the beautiful views begin. To the left of the drive is a large stream with moving water rolling along the rocks. As you drive further along the road, you come upon an even larger tributary and immense dam with fast moving water resembling a massive waterfall. The sound of the water is naturally calming and refreshing. The park provides you with many benches and picnic spots to stop, relax and enjoy the wonderful views. As you sit in the benches at the edge of the dam, looking over the rolling water, the trees behind it seem to be hundreds of different colors, peaking out over the horizon.

According to the Robert E. Lee Park Nature Council, the park was once part of a land grant from the 1700s. The lake, Lake Roland, was formed later as a water repository for Baltimore City. In the mid 1900s the area was named Robert E. Lee Park and was declared a historic district.

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Robert E. Lee Park provides numerous, well-kept trails to walk, jog, bike or hike. Some of the trails are handicap accessible as well. One of my favorite trails for a quick walk is the boardwalk to the light rail. The path is actually a wooden walkway through beautifully colored trees with leaves falling and many species of birds. Along the path are several "rest stops" with benches to sit and look out from. If you cross the bridge over the water, there is a park at the base of the dam with a half mile paved loop that is great for walking your dog if you're pressed for time. If you go around the back of the park to the picnic area, there is a longer trail that branches off to several others, providing you with a variety of areas to explore. Most of these trails are very flat and easy to traverse.

Also across the bridge is a children's play area called Acorn Hill with multiple play areas for the little ones including climbing logs, a fort and playground equipment. There is also a post specifically built to tie your dog's leash to if you need to run after your children. Along the hill with the play area are multiple picnic areas and pavilions all surrounded by gorgeous fall foliage. There are also several portable restrooms that are clean and large enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

If you travel through the wooded area past Acorn Hill, there is an expansive dog park called Paw Point Park that has a large grassy area, benches and even a spot for dogs to swim in Lake Roland leash free. There is also a water fountain and hose in case your pup gets thirsty. There is a yearly membership fee to use the dog park.

On the way back to the parking lot, there is a concrete dock area that is equipped to launch a canoe or kayak. Here you can enjoy the expanse of Lake Roland and all it has to offer.

If you are looking for a place this fall to enjoy the crisp air, colorful leaves, and the natural beauty of our area, Robert E. Lee park is the perfect place close to home to soak it all in.

Kelly Scible is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at kellyscible@gmail.com.

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