Green leaves are becoming harder to find as many species have shifted to various colors, including red, orange, yellow, brown, and gold. As leaf fall progresses, color intensity and diversity from overlooks remain strong. High leaf retention from various oak species, maple, hickory, beech, and sweetgum, continue to provide swaths of color. Areas predominantly composed of poplar have experienced the highest rates of leaf fall and show the least amount of color. Understory species such as sumac, sassafrass, and sourwood continue to deliver vivid colors, including yellow, red, and orange. Northern red oak is currently at peak and showing red and orange. The Cumberland Plateau and surrounding valleys are showing the most color this week, as many areas in North Central Georgia above 2,000 feet have surpassed peak. The estimated percentage of overall color change is at or past peak for most overstory species.
- Dogwood – Dull red with very little leaf retention.
- Yellow poplar – Yellow with very little leaf retention.
- Sumac – Red and fading.
- Beech – Golden brown or yellow.
- Blackgum – Dull red and fading.
- Sweetgum – Yellow, orange, and brown.
- Redbud – Yellow and fading.
- Birch – Yellow, gold, or brown.
- Sourwood – Shifting from red to yellow.
- Maple – Vivid orange shifting to yellow.
- Oak – Showing strong colors of red or orange.
- Sassafras – Yellow.
- Hickory – Yellow or brown.
Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: 100% above 3000’; 100% below 3000’.
Peak was achieved during the last days of October and continues to display colors into the first week of November. Color intensity will likely decrease due to leaf loss over the next few days.
Leaf retention has been good this season due to the lack of heavy rainfall and wind; however, this weather pattern has led to an early peak. Most species started showing peak colors during the last few days of October and continued to show colors into the first week of November.
Suggested scenic drive:
Route 1: Take Hwy 136 from i75 to Hwy 341. Turn left on Hwy 341 / Hog Jawl Road. Continue on Hog Jawl through Mountain Cove Farms and up Daughtery Gap to Hwy 157. Turn right on Hwy 157. Turn right on Scenic Hwy 189 (or continue on Hwy 136 to Cloudland Canyon State Park). Follow Hwy 189 to Sunset Rock, Point Park, or Rock City. Drop down into Chattanooga via Ochs Hwy / 58. Turn right on Hwy 193 to get back to Hwy 136. For the best route in current traffic, visit https://maps.app.goo.gl/zTYdn6a9Ve6EhPW58
Route 2: Take Hwy 52 from Chatsworth to Ellijay (this route passes Fort Mountain State Park). From Ellijay, head West on Hwy 76 back to Hwy 411 (or head North on Hwy 76 into Blue Ridge). Route 3: Take Hwy 136 from I-75 to Lake Marvin Road / Pocket Road NW. Turn left on Everett Springs Road and follow to Hwy 27 to Summerville (this route passes Rocky Mountain State Park). Turn left on Hwy 48 and head
through Menlo up to Cloudland. Turn right at Cloudland onto Highway 157. Turn left on Hwy 136 to go to Cloudland Canyon State Park, or turn right on Hwy 136 to get back to I-75.
The fall foliage season in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia is winding down. Most locations above 2,500 feet are past peak at this time. Yellow poplar, birch, redbud, and sumac are well past peak in many locales. The primary species that display spectacular and brilliant fall color at this time are mainly varieties of oak species. Some maples, sourwood, dogwood, and hickory continue to add great autumn splendor to the landscape, mainly in wind-protected and lower-elevation areas.
- Dogwood – Red, fading, and becoming past peak.
- Yellow poplar – Past peak.
- Sumac – Past peak.
- Beech – Yellow and bronze.
- Blackgum – Past peak.
- Sweetgum – Fading and becoming past peak.
- Redbud – Past peak.
- Birch – Past peak.
- Sourwood – Red, and fading.
- Maple – Yellow, orange, red, and beginning to fade.
- Oak – Yellow, orange, and scarlet red.
- Sassafras – Yellow, orange, red, and beginning to fade.
- Hickory – Yellow.
Estimate percentage of color change from green to date: 100% above 3000’; 90% below 3000’.
This year’s fall foliage season in the north Georgia Mountains has been one of the most vibrant and breathtaking in many years! The best locales for viewing fall color moving forward are in the foothills of the mountains, sheltered mountain valleys, and elevations generally less than 2,000 feet. At this time, Amicalola Falls State Park is showcasing outstanding displays of yellow, gold, orange, and red.
Last weekend into Monday of this week brought widespread rainfall and breezy conditions that continued to bring leaves down to the forest floor. However, there should continue to be good fall color at Amicalola Falls State Park this week into this upcoming weekend, but by then, it will most likely be past peak.
Suggested scenic drives:
State Route 136 from Dawsonville to Jasper provides dazzling displays of fall color. Make sure to stop by the Burnt Mountain Overlook in Pickens County to soak in the beautiful views. State Route 52 from Dahlonega to Amicalola Falls State Park is a great fall drive with nice yellow, orange, and red colors. Amicalola Falls provides a kaleidoscope of autumn splendor.
Elevations above 3,000 feet have surpassed peak, but good color can be found amongst red and white oaks. The colors range from bright red to brown, with non-oak species losing their leaves rapidly. There should be close to a week left for viewing before things begin looking bare in this elevation. Elevations below 3,000 feet are right at peak with great coloration amongst oaks, maples, sassafras, sourwood, and a few other species. Good views should persist for approximately two more weeks. This year’s colors have been the most vibrant we have had in recent years, so come outside and enjoy what’s left of the fall color season.
- Dogwood – Burgundy and fading.
- Yellow poplar – Brown or bare.
- Sumac – Some red, but mostly bare.
- Beech – Yellow and brown.
- Blackgum – burgundy or bare.
- Sweetgum – Yellow or bare.
- Redbud – Primarily bare.
- Birch – Primarily bare.
- Sourwood – Red and fading.
- Maple – Red, yellow, and deep red.
- Oak – Yellow, red, and brown.
- Sassafras – Yellow and bright red.
- Hickory – Yellow.
Estimated percentage change from green to date: 99.9% above 3,000’; 90% below 3,000’.
Incoming rainfall can be expected to accelerate leaf fall.
Suggested scenic drives:
Richard Russell- Brasstown Scenic Bypass is a good option at this time, especially if visiting the town of Helen and/or Blairsville. This will last for approximately one more week. The best views will be highways below 3,000 feet, such as Highway 356 between Helen and Batesville; the Unicoi State Park area has spectacular views. Another place to visit is Cornelia’s Chenocetah lookout tower and recreation area.