Northwest GA (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau):

Lots of rain over the past week has led to a slightly different look in the higher elevations. Many of the trees previously displaying the brightest reds and yellows have lost their leaves while other species are slowly beginning to shift from green to yellow and brown. Early turners in higher elevations such as red maple, sourwood, sumac, and blackgum are among the species most affected by the rain. Though some of the most vivid colors from last week have disappeared; hickory, poplar, birch, and sassafras are continually shifting from green to yellow, increasing variety to overlooks as time progresses. Oaks are beginning to fade to brown with small hints of yellow. Dogwoods have surpassed peak as deep reds begin to dull.

Species specifics:

  • Dogwood – vivid red is beginning to dull and shedding leaves
  • Birch – slowly fading to brown and yellow
  • Yellow-poplar – green with a hints of yellow
  • Redbud – green
  • Sourwood – shifting to mute and deep reds
  • Sumac – bright red
  • Maple – dull reds
  • Birch – fading to yellow with brown edges
  • Oak – green slowly fading to brown and yellow
  • Blackgum – shifting to orange and red
  • Sassafras – slowly fading to yellow
  • Sweetgum – fading to red and yellow
  • Hickory – starting to get a yellow tint with browning edges

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date:  10% at higher elevations.

Scenic NW drive: I-75 to Hwy 136 to top of Lookout Mtn; left on Hwy 157 to
Cloudland Canyon. OR Daughtery Gap Rd will take you to Farms.


The remnants of Hurricane Delta took down some early-turning yellow poplar leaves however, they were by no means stripped of their foliage and many are still holding both yellows and greens.

The progression continues with color becoming more noticeable at the upper elevations and our roadside color across NE GA continues to increase in both coverage area and intensity. Looking back at some of our digital photo records, we are just a few days behind where we were in 2014 and that year provided an excellent finale in terms of amount of color and intensity.  Crossing our fingers that the next 2 to 3 weeks will provide us with a similar conclusion.

Above 3000’ oaks continue to transition to reds and yellows.

Roadsides continue to see significant increases in color with sourwood, maple, blackgum, dogwood, and sumac adding more to the roadside reds and the yellow poplar being supported again this week by the birches. Additionally, this week, hickories are beginning to show some initial golden yellows and every now and then a black walnut is bringing bright lemon yellow.

Overall, our canopies across the region are in various stages of fading greens but with color getting more involved each day.

Species specific:

  • Dogwood  – Red / Burgundy
  • Birch  – Yellow
  • Yellow-poplar – Yellow/Gold
  • Sourwood – Red / Burgundy
  • Sumac – Bright Reds
  • Maple – Muted to Bright Reds
  • Oak – Above 3000’ beginning changes to reds and yellows
  • Blackgum – Showing some good reds/increasing in color
  • Sassafras – Occasional saplings showing some reds and orange.
  • Hickory – early stages with occasional trees showing some golden yellow

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date:  10 – 50% above 3000’; 20% or less below 3000’.

At Georgia’s very highest elevations we may see peak beginning this weekend running into next week. Peak time below 3000’ elevation should still be on schedule for the last week of October and into early November.

Scenic NE drive:

Higher elevation drives continue to provide the best color opportunity. South-facing slopes are showing a little more color also. Roadsides throughout the mountain counties are providing regular color. As in the last two weeks, the Richard Russel Scenic Highway, Dicks Creek Gap (US 76 between Clayton and Hiawassee) and GA 180 west of Wolf Pen Gap should make for nice drives.

2 thoughts on “GFC Leaf Watch: October 16, 2020

  1. If you had a friend fly in to visit who asked you to take him today to see the best vistas/overlooks in No GA where would YOU drive to? Or if it were a hike to an overlook , where would that be?

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