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

As nights become cooler and longer, foliage color change is becoming more vivid and visible.  Over the past week the transformation has grown wider across north Georgia

Views from overlooks and valleys have shifted from dark green to light green with small patches of faint yellows and maroons. The tops of ridges and peaks have noticeably more color than the slopes and valleys below. The areas on top of the Cumberland Plateau show unique colors.

Maple and sourwood are primarily responsible for most spots with high color intensities of red or yellow. Sweetgum also provides a few areas of color, showing occasional shades of dull red and brown but still mostly green. Oak, birch, hickory, and poplar are starting to shed leaves and showing faint shades of yellow and brown. Dogwood appears to be the first species to offer the most significant color changes at all elevations, as it has already transformed from green to a mix of dull reds and yellows. Sumac within the understory has recently begun displaying a variety of reds.

While the overall color is still predominantly green, vivid areas of red and yellow are becoming significantly easier to find as the season progresses.

The overall color change is approximately 10%.

Species specifics:

  • Maple – Green with hints of vivid red and yellow.
  • Yellow poplar – Green with hints of yellow and brown.
  • Sumac – Green fading to red.
  • Beech – Green.
  • Dogwood – Faint red to yellow.
  • Sourwood – Shifting from green to vivid shades of red.
  • Sassafras – Green with hints of orange.
  • Sweetgum – Shifting from green to red and yellow.
  • Blackgum – Green with hints of red.
  • Redbud – Green.
  • Birch – Green.
  • Oak – Green fading to light green and brown.
  • Hickory – Green with hints of brown.

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: 15% above 3000 feet and 5% below 3000 feet. 

This area has had sufficient rainfall over the summer, and forest health appears to be very good overall. Average temperatures have been slightly higher, leading to a later peak season.  Expect the first week of November to be the peak.

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:

What a difference a week makes! This year the colors seem to be very vibrant and vivid.  Adequate rainfall throughout the growing season, with moderate temperatures and minimal stress for the trees, has set the stage for an outstanding fall foliage season. This weekend into early next week looks near peak conditions for Brasstown Bald and Georgia’s highest elevations above 4,000 feet!

The oak species are primarily green at this time but beginning to show early signs of yellow, orange, and red. The different species of oaks should progress rapidly over the next several weeks.

Species specifics:

  • Maple – Yellow, orange, and red.
  • Yellow poplar – Yellow and brown
  • Dogwood – Red and burgundy.
  • Sourwood – Red.
  • Sweetgum – Yellow and purple.
  • Blackgum – Red and orange.
  • Birch – Yellow.
  • Sassafras – Yellow, orange, and red.
  • Oak – Green with early signs of yellow and red.
  • Sumac – Red.
  • Redbud – Green, and Yellow
  • Hickory – Yellow.

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: approximately 65% above 3000 feet and 30% below 3000 feet. 

We expect moderate rainfall and gusty conditions with a cold front from Wednesday until Thursday. This will likely knock some leaves down but should not spoil this fall color season.  Early next week looks to bring a substantial cool down with possible frosty conditions. This should make fall colors begin to erupt and expand into elevations less than 3,000 feet.

Scenic NC Drive:

State Route 60 from Dahlonega to Suches is beginning to show some decent fall colors. In Suches, take Wolfpen Gap Road, also known as State Route 180, to Lake Winfield Scott.  This area showcases fantastic fall colors from birch, maple, sourwood, dogwood, poplar, and hickory. Also, taking State Route 180 to Brasstown, Bald currently has some of the most breathtaking and gorgeous scenery in this part of the state.


Northeast GA:

Lack of rain has stressed species like sweetgum, sycamore, blackgum, and yellow poplar, leading to premature leaf cast for some individual trees. This has little impact on the leaf-watching season since these species comprise a small percentage of forest composition outside low-lying areas. However, with the expected precipitation for Wednesday/Thursday, we should see enough rain to take the stress off the remaining trees.

Most of the non-oak species have begun changing color to some extent. This includes sweet gum, black gum, birches, dogwood, poplar, and sourwood, for the most part. 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.
  • Yellow poplar – Yellow and brown.
  • Sumac – Red.
  • Beech – Green with some yellowing.
  • Dogwood – Red and burgundy.
  • Sourwood – Red with dull to bright hues.
  • Sassafras – Green with yellow.
  • Sweetgum – Yellow and purple.
  • Blackgum – Red.
  • Redbud – Green and yellow.
  • Birch – Yellow.
  • Oak – Green with red on tips of leaves.
  • Hickory – Green and yellow.

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: 40% above 3000 feet and 50% below 3000 feet.

Conditions are still on track for beautiful oak tree leaf color change. I expect the peak should occur the last week of October for oaks. We are within peak for species like yellow poplar, sycamore, yellow birch, and blackgum. We are also in the early peak for dogwood and sassafras, but these species have a much more extended peak period than many other species.

Scenic NE Drive:

Some of the better viewing for this week is around the Rabun gap area, especially any of the back roads. Lovell-Wikle Scenic Hwy near Batesville is still a good choice. It’s still a little early for the overlooks due to most of the higher elevations being composed of oaks, and they haven’t experienced significant color change, but that should change very soon. Historically color change is a little more evident in the eastern part of the state first and then progress westward. You will also see more change on northern-facing slopes before other aspects.

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