When we think of fall foliage — bright reds and burnt oranges might come to mind. But nestled in the middle of Chevy Chase is a sea of yellow and gold. Catalpa Road is home to dozens of Gingko trees which, every fall, becomes the brightest + most visited street in town. Tread lightly — while most of the trees are male, there are a couple of female ginkgo trees which drop the stinkiest fruit. We’re talking plug your nose and hold your breath, smelly.
We spoke with a couple of past + present Catalpa residents to get their thoughts and pro tips for visiting the “Golden Tunnel.”
Phyllis Culp has lived on Catalpa since 1975:
“Every fall this street draws a huge number of walkers and photographers to view + record the gorgeous view of our golden tunnel of tree leaves.” She added that a group of women actually come to gather the “stinko gingko” fruit as it is considered a delicacy in Asian cultures.
Pro tip from Phyllis, “While leaves fall gradually over the fall, the remainder will fall in a few hours during the first real freeze. It is like a gold rain for a few hours. Then it becomes a beautiful gold rug on the ground.”
Caroline Reid lived there for 5 years:
“I had so much fun living there, it is the sweetest street. You meet so many people around that time of year,” Caroline said. “The Drop” as they call it, is unpredictable, but Caroline said if you keep going back each day, you can anticipate it. “They all drop early in the morning, just as the sunlight is coming and hitting the trees. It’s really spectacular.”
Both ladies noted how funny it was that the street, named after the Catalpa tree, only features Gingkos.