Northwest GA (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau):

Peak color has passed in a majority of NW GA, as last week’s high winds and heavy rains encouraged the loss of the remaining leaves with vivid colors. Currently, overlooks and ridges are predominately composed of dull greens, maroons, and browns with very little yellow or red. Many of the trees are leafless, while others are showing light and dull colors.

There is the occasional patch of red due to late changing sourwood, blackgum, and maple; but these vivid colors are rare. Though much of NW GA has surpassed peak, there is still some color in lower elevations. Late changing maple, oak, hickory, and poplar will likely provide brief bursts of color in the following weeks. 

Species specifics:

  • Dogwood – vivid red has faded followed by leaf loss
  • Birch – slowly fading to brown and yellow
  • Yellow-poplar – dull yellow and brown
  • Redbud – yellow to brown
  • Sourwood – dull maroon and brown
  • Sumac – dull red or leafless
  • Maple – dull reds
  • Birch – fading to yellow with brown edges
  • Oak – green slowly fading to brown and yellow
  • Blackgum – dull red and leaf loss
  • Sassafras – shows a variety of colors on remaining leaves
  • Sweetgum – fading to red and yellow
  • Hickory – yellow fading to brown

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: Past peak above 1500ft.;  50-80% elsewhere.

Scenic drive: Take Hwy 136 to the top of Lookout Mountain from I-75. Turn right onto Hwy 189 (or continue on 136 and turn right to go to Cloudland Canyon). Follow Hwy 189 to Sunset Rock, Point Park, or Rock City. Drop down into Chattanooga via Ochs Hwy/ 58. Then take Hwy 193 back to Hwy 136.


 Tropical Storm Zeta swooped out of GA carrying much of our existing fall color. Upper elevation ridges and roadsides were stripped of color, however, there are still a significant number of trees that normally would be turning later that did not lose canopy. As such, we are holding hope that “fall” is not lost! While the higher mountain counties have experienced one or more frosts now, we are still hoping to see residual maples, poplar, beech, hickory and oaks produce both reds and yellows in mid to lower elevations before we are done. An outdoor adventure in Georgia in November will still provide something to see.

Species specifics:

  • Dogwood  – Many past peak but still some red/burgundy in full swing
  • Birch – Much of the road side trees lost canopy during the storm but some Yellows persist
  • Yellow-poplar – The existing roadside color was lost during storm.  However, some green poplar now beginning to transition to Yellow/Gold….
  • Redbud – becoming more prominent with yellows
  • Sourwood – Much of the roadside sourwood lost during the storm but some reds, pinks and burgundies do still exist.
  • Sumac – as these are generally lower to the ground, many sumac retained their bright reds.
  • Maple – the early reds and yellows lost to the storm.  However, there are significant numbers of maples that are just now transitioning to red so expect to see more of these before the fall is done.
  • Beech- the star of the week with many American beech in shades from bright green to lemon yellow to buckskin tan.
  • Oak – Above 3000’ early turners now a golden bronze.  Below 3000’ a mixture of deep reds and yellows developing.
  • Blackgum – Most of the existing blackgum reds were lost to the storm.  Some developing at lower elevations.
  • Sassafras – in full swing with yellows, reds, and oranges.
  • Sweetgum- starting to see the yellows, reds and purples of the sweetgum in the mid to lower elevations.
  • Hickory – some of the hickory color was lost but many still making a show of their golden yellows.

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date:  Past peak/many trees leafless above 2500’ elevation; 50% – 70% below 2500’.

Next 2 weeks should still provide for some color below 2500’ with the potential for some good color scattered around.

As the canopy comes down, roadside sights hidden during the summer months begin to emerge providing a different set of opportunities.

Scenic drive:

For the next two weeks any drive to and through the towns and communities of north Georgia should provide some opportunities to see some color.

While negotiating north GA be aware that local road crews have done a tremendous job of cutting fallen trees out of the roadways and there were many to be cut. However, many of these trees were cut back to the white line only to allow crews to get to others blocking the roads. As such, the shoulders still have tree remnants right up to the road’s edge. Use caution when exploring new routes.

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