Northwest GA Specific (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau):
Overall color vividness and continuity will be determined mainly by future weather events within the season. 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. Leaf retention has been good due to the lack of heavy rainfall and wind events. However, this weather pattern has led to an early peak. Forecasted rain for the last weekend of October may lead to premature leaf fall, depending on the severity of the storms.
Most tree species above 2000 feet are currently at peak, with lower elevations close behind. Oaks of all varieties are usually among the last to change and are now showing an array of vivid colors. Northern red oak has shifted from green to deep red and orange, while chestnut oak and white oak express yellow, gold, and brown colors.
Most maples show intensive shades of orange but may also display bright yellow or deep red, depending on the area. Sourwood and black gum still retain the deep red color they have exhibited throughout the previous weeks. Hickory, beech and birch are also at peak showing color spectrums from bright yellow to dull bronze, gold or brown. Poplar is also at height and predominately bright yellow. However, it has suffered some leaf loss over the past week and continues rapidly dropping leaves. Dogwoods have surpassed peak as reds have faded and leaves have fallen.
100% peak color change will likely be achieved by the end of the week. The intensity of the forecasted weather events for the last weekend of October and the first weekend of November will determine how long the colors shown now will last.
The overall color change is approximately 85% above 2000 feet and 70% below 2000 feet.
- Maple – Deep red fading to vivid orange.
- Yellow poplar – Yellow, bronze, or gold.
- Sumac – Red and fading.
- Beech – Golden brown or yellow.
- Dogwood – Dull reds quickly fade.
- Sourwood – Retaining vivid shades of red.
- Sassafras – Yellow.
- Sweetgum – Yellow, orange, and brown.
- Blackgum – Dull red.
- Redbud – Yellow.
- Birch – Yellow and gold.
- Oak – Showing solid colors of red, orange, and yellow.
- Hickory – Yellow or brown.
Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: 85% above 3000 feet and 70%
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
Route 3: Take Hwy 136 from I75 to Lake Marvin Road / Pocket Road NW. Turn left on Everett
Springs Road and follow Hwy 27 to Summerville (this route passes Rocky Mountain State
Park). Turn left on Hwy 48 and head through Menlo up to Cloudland. Turn right at Cloudland
onto Highway 157. Turn left on Hwy 136 to go to Cloudland Canyon State Park, or turn right on
Hwy 136 to get back to i75.
North Central GA:
The north Georgia mountains are full of autumn splendor. However, with recent wind events
and several hard freezes last week, most elevations above 3,500 feet are past peak or will be
very soon. The best elevations to view brilliant fall colors are 2,000-3,000 feet. Many oak
species above 2,000 feet display beautiful scarlet foliage with scarlet oaks. Other oak species
also show lovely shades of yellow, orange, and red. Yellow poplar, birch, blackgum, and sumac
are beginning to fade and surpass peak in most elevations. Sourwood, maple, hickory,
sassafras, and dogwood continue to provide dazzling displays of brilliant red, orange and
The fall color season above around 3,500 is past peak. There continues to be vibrant and vivid
yellow, orange, and red between 2,000-3,000 feet. Elevations above 2,000 feet should be near
peak now through the upcoming weekend. By early November, the best locales for viewing fall
foliage should be in the foothills of mountains, sheltered mountain valleys, and elevations
generally less than 2,000 feet.
- Maple – Yellow, orange, red, and fading in upper elevations.
- Yellow poplar – Yellow/brown/fading and becoming past peak.
- Dogwood – Burgundy, red, and past peak in upper elevations.
- Sourwood – Red.
- Sweetgum – Yellow, purple, and red.
- Blackgum – Orange and red are beginning to fade.
- Birch – Yellow is beginning to fade and become past peak.
- Sassafras – Yellow, orange, and red.
- Oak – Yellow, red, and scarlet.
- Sumac – Red and orange fading.
- Redbud – Yellow.
- Hickory – Yellow.
Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: approximately 100% above
3000 feet and 80% below 3000 feet.
Last week’s freezing temperatures and windy conditions expedited the fall foliage season in
the higher elevations. Recent rain and wind from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning
continued to bring down leaves. However, from now through the upcoming weekend should
provide great fall colors in lower to middle elevations in the mountains.
Scenic NC Drive:
1) Georgia State Route 180 from Suches to Vogel State Park is one of the most rewarding and breathtaking drives at this time.
2) Georgia State Route 75 from Hiawassee to Helen is also stunning.
3) U.S. HWY 19 showcases outstanding fall colors from Dahlonega to Blairsville.
4) Lake Winfield Scott along S. R. 180 near Vogel State Park should provide great fall color through Halloween.
Drought has impacted the forest this year, as October is historically dry. Thankfully there have not been severe winds as in years past, which allows us to enjoy the leaves still hanging on. This week has seen warm days and cool nights, which should continue our color development.
Elevations above 3000 feet exhibit excellent color change. The higher elevations have a nice contrast of yellows and reds with the development of the oaks. Elevations below 3000 feet show oaks beginning to change, starting with the leaf tips. Sumac, dogwood, sourwood, and gums are within peak periods. Some species are beginning to defoliate, but there are still plenty of colors to witness.
- Maple – Red, yellow and scarlet.
- Yellow poplar – Pale yellow and brown.
- Sumac – Deep red to burgundy.
- Beech – Yellowing.
- Dogwood – Burgundy.
- Sourwood – Deep red.
- Sassafras – Orange and yellow.
- Sweetgum – Yellow and purple.
- Blackgum – Orange to red.
- Redbud – Yellow.
- Birch – Yellow to brown.
- Oak – Reds are showing at elevation.
- Hickory – Yellow.
Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: 75% above 3000 feet and 55% below 3000 feet.
With the early changing species like poplar, sweetgum, and birch fading out to dull yellows and browns, the oaks are beginning to take the main stage for color. The oaks are likely within their peak in the next two weeks. Overall this weekend should blend both groups nicely.
Scenic NE Drive:
Richard Russel Scenic Highway/GA 348 (Hog Pen Gap), GA 17/75 between Helen and Hiawassee (Unicoi Gap), and US 76 from Clayton to Hiawassee (Dicks Creek Gap).