Sunny days and cool nights are doing their work… While tree canopies across most of the ridges and slopes in NE GA continue to be a sea of various shades of greens that are getting lighter, we are seeing more punctuations of color in the bright reds of maple and sourwood, and yellows and golds of the yellow poplar.
Above 3000’ oaks are starting to transition from light green to pale yellow to red, and are giving some of these vistas a real feel that the big change is close.
Roadsides have seen significant increases in color from these same species, with blackgum, dogwood, and sumac adding more to the roadside reds, and the yellow poplar being supported again this week by the birches. Many yellow poplars are currently shedding leaves with leaf showers common along your drive. However, there is still a solid population of poplar that are just beginning to turn.
- 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 – Starting to show some good reds/increasing in color
- Sassafras – Occasional saplings showing some reds and orange
Estimated percentage of color change from green to date:
Above 3000’, 5 – 30%; Below 3000’, 5% or less
Peak time below 3000’ elevation should still be on schedule for the last week of October and in to early November.
Above 3000’ we may see the beginning of peak by the first of next week, based on the percentage of trees that are beginning to fade from full green. Winds generated from Hurricane Delta could thin out the canopies this weekend on ridge tops and in the gaps.
Hurricane Delta, currently threatening the US Gulf Coast, looks to bring some rain and possibly some wind to the Georgia mountains Saturday and Sunday. As leaf abscission is already underway in some trees and locations, any winds could result in premature loss of leaves just as they are turning. Biggest risks are the ridge top trees and trees in the gaps, as winds tend to channel here.
Higher elevation drives continue to provide the best color opportunity. South-facing slopes are showing a little more color also. As last week, 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 a nice drive. Full color at these locations though is still a week to 10 or more days out.
Northwest (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau):
Overlooks and ridges are still predominately green, while small patches of yellow and red are gradually expanding.
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 rapidly shifting from green and yellow to orange and red. Oak, birch, redbud, hickory, and remaining species are starting to shed leaves but have yet to show much change in color. Dogwoods have faded from green to deep red in the higher elevations.
Since last week, the Fort Mountain area has shown a significant increase in color change compared to Lookout Mountain.
Overall, total color change remains around 5%; most noticeable in higher elevations.
- 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 – shifting to mute and deep reds
- Sumac – bright red
- Maple – dull reds
- Birch – green with brown edges
- Oak – green fading to brown
- Blackgum – shifting to orange and red
- Sassafras – still green, haven’t seen any change yet
- Sweetgum – fading to red and yellow
- Hickory – starting to get a yellow tint with browning edges
Take Hwy 136 from i75. 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.