All signs are pointing to a great leaf season, and it has begun!
Bright sunny days and cool nights spur on the change and the trusty sourwoods have started to turn red and burgundy, and dogwoods are showing muted reds. At higher elevations, a number of maples are already turning deep red. Along roadsides, the reds of sumac and some scattered sassafras are showing reds and oranges. Yellows and golds are starting to come in on yellow poplars, and also with birches at higher elevations/
And remember, there are lots of restless folks seeking outdoor recreational opportunities this year, so as you plan your adventures, consider weekdays over weekends to make travels a little easier and safer.
Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: 5%_ABOVE 3500’ ELEVATIONS
With color already starting to develop, projected peak is the last week of October.
[NOTE: As we go through leaf season it is good to remember that the concept of “peak” is actually a moving target as elements to include the latitude, elevation, aspect (whether the location faces north, east, south, or west), locations on the slope (lower slope/mid-slope/ridge top), local factors such as location in/on a cove, exposed ridge, river bottom, and species, etc. results in many “peaks” occurring in localized areas. The concept of overall “peak” can be defined as the most color across the largest area, so keep in mind that as we go through fall, there are generally exceptional opportunities regardless if it is a week or two before our declared “peak” or a week or two after.]
NE GA scenic drives include: the higher elevation drives (Richard Russel Scenic Highway, Brasstown Bald and the Suches area) – all will likely provide some of the best scattered color, but right now you can find roadside sourwoods, dogwoods and poplar changing across north GA.
Northwest GA Specific (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau):
Overlooks and ridges are still predominately green with an occasional patch of red or yellow. Red maple, sumac, and blackgum are primarily responsible for the faint patches of red while hickory and poplar are providing small hints of yellow. Sweetgum also provides a few areas of color showing occasional reds and yellows but still mostly green. Sourwood is primarily green with a few hints of red in higher elevations. Oak, birch, redbud, hickory, and remaining species are starting to shed leaves but have yet to show much change in color. Dogwoods are gradually fading from green to deep red in the higher elevations.
The top of Lookout Mountain and the Cloudland Canyon area currently show the most color change. Further East in the Fort Mountain area, there is a small amount of change, but not quite as vivid as Lookout. Overall, total color change is less than 5% but most noticeable at the top of Lookout.
Species color changes:
- Dogwood – gradual fading to deep red
- Birch – mostly green with a few brown and yellow ends
- Yellow-poplar – green with a hints of yellow
- Redbud – green
- Sourwood – mostly green but showing hints of red in higher elevation
- Sumac – bright red
- Maple – dull reds
- Birch – green with brown edges
- Oak – green fading to brown
- Blackgum – slowly fading to red
- Sassafras – still green, haven’t seen any change yet
- Sweetgum – fading to red and yellow
- Hickory – still green with browning edges
NW SCENIC DRIVE: Take Hwy 136 from I-75. Turn left on Hwy 157 on top of Lookout Mountain (Or continue on Hwy 157 to go to Cloudland Canyon). Turn left on Daughtery Gap Rd to come out in front of Mountain Cove Farms. Turn right on Hog Jawl Rd. Turn right on Hwy 193 and follow back into Lafayette. Turn right on South Main Street. Turn left on Hwy 27 Bypass and follow to the next intersection to get back on Hwy 136.