Northwest GA Specific (Ridge and Valley/Cumberland Plateau)

The past week has been cool and sunny with a little rain, allowing many of the trees to slowly progress with color change. Areas with high concentrations of blackgum and sourwood are currently showing the most vivid colors providing differing shades of red and orange. Sassafras is also beginning to show a variety of colors including yellow, orange and red. 

 Oak, birch, redbud, hickory, and remaining species are starting to shed leaves and beginning to show faint shades of yellow. Sweetgum also provides a few areas of color showing occasional shades of dull red and brown, but still mostly green. Poplar is gradually shifting from green to differing shades of yellow, gold, and brown. Dogwood is nearing peak as a majority of this species continues to display a mix of dull and deep reds.

The Lookout Mountain and Fort Mountain areas are showing similar characteristics in foliage color change. While percentage color change from green to date continues to increase every week;

Species specifics:

  • Dogwood – mix of dull and deep reds
  • Birch – slowly fading to brown and yellow
  • Yellow-poplar – slowly shifting from green to shades of brown and yellow
  • Redbud – gradually fading to yellow
  • Sourwood – vivid and deep reds
  • Sumac – bright red
  • Maple – dull reds
  • Birch – mostly green with brown edges
  • Oak – green slowly fading to brown with occasional reds
  • Blackgum – shifting a variety of reds
  • Sassafras – shows a variety of yellow, orange, and red
  • Sweetgum – fading to red and yellow
  • Hickory – still green with browning edges and faint signs of yellow

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date:  15% Progress remains about a week behind schedule compared to the previous year. Without recent wind and rain, trees are holding leaves and showing more color.

The wet summer should increase the chances of having a good season. Expect peak during the first week of November.

Scenic drive:

From I-75, take Hwy 136 to the top of Lookout Mountain. Turn right onto Hwy 189 (or continue on 136 and turn right to go to Cloudland Canyon). Follow Hwy 189 to Sunset Rock, Point Park, or Rock City. Drop down into Chattanooga via Ochs Hwy/58. Then take Hwy 193 back to Hwy 136.

North Central

Yellow poplar has largely finished its color change and is showing more branches than leaves now. Birch is showing more golden yellows throughout the canopy. Roadsides continue to see reds with sourwood, dogwood, and sumac. Sweetgum is still showing some dull yellows along roads and river corridors. Some small roadside oaks above 3000’ elevation are beginning to show color change. Maples have picked up varying shades of red along elevation changes.

Species specifics:

  • Dogwood  – Red / Burgundy
  • Birch  – Yellow
  • Yellow-poplar – Sparse Yellow/Gold
  • Sourwood – Red / Burgundy
  • Sumac – Bright Reds
  • Maple – Muted to Bright Reds
  • Oak – Above 3000’ beginning changes to reds
  • Blackgum – Showing some good reds/increasing in color
  • Sweetgum-Yellow

Estimate the percentage of color change from green to date: 25-30% above 3000’; 15% or less below 3000’.

This pattern of sunny warm days and cool overnight temperatures have greatly improved color change in the landscape. Look for increased color change through the next few weeks. While peak time is still a few weeks away, we can enjoy some very nice color development at higher elevations. Peak should still be on schedule for early November.

Scenic North Central drive:

Higher elevation drives like GA 180 around Brasstown Bald will give some nice overlooks. GA 180 from Vogel State Park to Suches also shows great color.

The Appalachian Brew, Stew & Que Festival takes place in Hiawassee this weekend.


As expected, the cool temps and bright sunny days have combined to give the look and feel of fall for Northeast Georgia. While the birches, poplars, and sycamores have all but completed their fall showing, other species like dogwood, sourwood, black gum, and sassafras have entered into their peak period. Roadsides along the Richard Russell Scenic Hwy has the best viewings for these species this week, along with great views of the changing mountainsides. The mountains are exhibiting a blur of light green and yellow, dotted with red in areas.

This week the canopies are starting to see most coloration occur in elevations above 2000’ and primarily on the north-facing slopes in the NE, but starting to encompass the other directions. Above 2500’ oaks are starting to be accented around the perimeter of their leaves with gold/yellow and light red with a few trailblazing oaks turning full red. If you’re lucky enough to go on a clear day, the areas around Brasstown Bald and Richard Russell Hwy are showing the most overall color for the Northeast region

Roadsides are the best places to see color changes everywhere this week. This is primarily due to the abundance of understory trees like dogwood, sourwood, sassafras, black gum that will peak over the upcoming weekend.

Species specifics:

  • Dogwood – Burgundy
  • Birch – Yellow but past peak
  • Yellow-poplar – Yellow but past peak
  • Sourwood – Bright Red / Burgundy
  • Sumac – Bright to deep reds
  • Maple – Above 2000 feet most are yellow/red on tops and extremities of branches
  • Oak – Above 2500’ beginning changes to light reds and yellows.
  • Black gum – Red
  • Sassafras – Most saplings show some reds and orange.
  • Sweetgum – Purple to Yellow
  • Hickory – Yellow/ Brown

Estimated percentage of color change from green to date: 40% above 3000’; 15% or less below 3000’.

If the forecast holds true, next week should bring about rapid changes, with bright sunny days and cool nights. Peak time below 3000’ elevation should occur the last week of October and into early November.

Above 3000’ we may see the beginning of peak by the third week of October based on the percentage of trees that are beginning to fade from full green.

Weather should not have any negative impacts on color change or leaf loss, however, warmer temperatures may slow the transition.

Scenic NE drive:

The Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway has the best coloration for species that are peaking this week. Highway 180 has good roadside views.