Northwest GA Specific (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau):

This week has been cool and sunny, with mild to moderate winds and very little rain. Average temperatures have been slightly higher, possibly leading to a later peak season. With sufficient rainfall over the summer, the overall forest health appears to be very good.

Overall, leaf retention is still strong, and fall colors have yet to become apparent. Views from overlooks are still green; however, they have begun shifting from dark green to light green.

Rainfall and wind intensity in the following months will determine how good of a season we can expect. Multiple moderate to severe storms will lead to premature leaf fall and less overall color.

Species specifics:

  • Dogwood – Green with hints of red.
  • Poplar – Faint traces of yellow and brown.
  • Maple – Faint hints of red and yellow.
  • Sourwood – hints of red and yellow.
  • Sassafras – Green with hints of orange.
  • Hickory – Green with hints of brown.

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: 4% above 3000 feet and 2% below 3000 feet. 

The peak of this transition is expected to begin the first week of November.

Scenic NW 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).


North Central GA:

The conditions over the past week have been very conducive for fall color development and setting the stage for a spectacular leaf-viewing season. There were no adverse effects from the remnants of Hurricane Ian to impact the fall foliage season. The clear, crisp nights and mild, sunny days from last week have initiated the fall color season. This weather pattern looks to continue over the next week or so and should help to accelerate the progression of vivid and brilliant fall colors.

Species specifics:

  • Maple – more noticeable yellows and reds.
  • Yellow poplar – Increased amounts of yellows showing through.
  • Dogwood – Red and burgundy.
  • Sourwood – Signs of Red hue.
  • Sweetgum – Yellow, red, and purple.
  • Blackgum – Red and orange.
  • Birch – Green to yellow.

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: approximately 5% above 3000 feet and 8% below 3000 feet. 

The overall peak of fall colors above 3,000 feet should be in late October, and elevations below 3,000 feet should be near peak during the first week or so of November.

Scenic NC Drive:

Hogpen Gap Overlook in Union County via the Russell Scenic Highway provides exceptional views of mountains to the North, including Georgia’s highest point, Brasstown Bald. Owl Creek Road, off State Route 17, South of Hiawassee, is showcasing some significant signs of fall colors from birch, maple, sourwood, and dogwood.


Northeast GA:

These bright sunny days and cool nights contribute to greater visibility and better leaf color vibrancy. Lack of rain can accelerate leaf shedding in sweetgum, sycamore, poplar, and black gum. However, it should not adversely impact the oaks that are the main draw for most peepers. With a front approaching this coming weekend, we should have good clean, clear air that will improve visibility and put the feel of fall in the air. We could also use a little rain to reduce some stress due to dry conditions, but no severe stresses.

Due to the habitat these species occupy, there is more color along river corridors, roadsides, and the understory than in higher elevations, where oaks make up most of the composition.

Species specifics:

  • Maple – Red and yellow hues on the tops of the tree canopy.
  • Yellow poplar – Yellow.
  • Sumac – Red.
  • Beech – Green with some yellowing.
  • Dogwood – Red and burgundy.
  • Sourwood – Signs of Red hue.
  • Sweetgum – Yellow and purple.
  • Blackgum – Red.
  • Redbud – Green and yellow.
  • Birch – Yellow.
  • Hickory – Green and yellow.

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: 5% above 3000 feet and 20% below 3000 feet.

If the cool weather persists, peak season may get here the last week of October.

Scenic NE Drive:

Since most viewing is roadside at this time, all major roads leading from the piedmont into the mountains are good viewing. Mid-morning is the best time due to having the sun to your back if traveling highways 17, 23, 76, and 441 into the mountains. The town of Tiger in Rabun County has an exceptionally high number of dogwood in good color at this time and provides an opportunity to get off the main highway and slow down to take in the view.

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