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Leaf Watch Top 15 Parks

Just an hour north of Atlanta you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall. The falls can be enjoyed from both easy and difficult trails. A short, flat path leads to a boardwalk offering the most spectacular views. There’s also an easy-to-reach overlook at the top. For a tougher challenge, start from the bottom of the falls and hike up the steep staircase. Amicalola Falls gets very busy on pretty October weekends. Pumpkin farms and apple orchards are nearby.

  Amicalola Falls State Park

At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia’s highest state park. Roadside overlooks and the summit Visitor Center offer sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail is a good choice for a short, moderate hike. For an all-day challenge, take the 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail. If driving Hwy. 441 north to the park, you can also stop by Tallulah Gorge State Park and quirky Goats on the Roof.

Oct 14 - Wow!  What a difference a week makes.  Color is popping all over.  Early last week only the yellow poplars and dogwoods were changing; now the maples and a few oaks have joined in.  We're seeing lots of yellow, with bursts of red and orange.  At an altitude of 3,640, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia's highest state park, so it makes sense that this park sees color before many others. One frequent camper who has been visiting for nearly 3 decades forecasted peak color to be a week or so away.  We shall see...

  Black Rock Mountain State Park

One of Georgia’s most beautiful parks offers easy-to-reach rim overlooks and challenging hiking trails. A favorite hike takes you down a long, steep staircase to the bottom of the canyon, where you’ll find two waterfalls. The 5-mile West Rim Loop is moderately difficult and offers great views of the canyon. Rental yurts are located off this trail.

Oct. 9  --  More yellows and reds are showing, but a majority of the leaves are still green.  Next weekend is looking like a good weekend for colors.

  Cloudland Canyon State Park

Georgia’s newest state park opened in 2013 on Lake Lanier, protecting a beautiful hardwood forest and many miles of shoreline. If you have a boat, this would be a great park to enjoy fall color from the water. A 1.5-mile paved (and quite hilly) trail is open to bikes and foot traffic. Another 2-mile trail is open to hikers only.

Oct. 15 -- Dogwoods and Black Cherries are gorgeous red, but poplar have almost lost all their yellow leaves.  Some sweet gums and scarlet oaks are maroon and red.  Most of the deep forest is still green, but the leaves are starting to turn at a faster pace.

  Don Carter State Park

Many people are surprised to find hardwood forests and rolling mountains south of Atlanta. The 6.7-mile Wolf Den Loop is a favorite section of the longer Pine Mountain Trail. For a touch of history, drive to Dowdell’s Knob to see a lifesize bronze sculpture of President F.D. Roosevelt and great views of the forested valley. Ga. Hwy. 190 is a pretty driving route.

Oct. 8  --  Washed-red colors are evident in Florida Dogwoods, Sourwoods, Blackgums and  Red Maples.  Pale yellows are now showing in Tulip Trees (Tulip Poplars), Red Buds, Hickories.

  F. D. Roosevelt State Park

This park is best known for a mysterious rock wall along the mountain top, plus a variety of trails. For the easiest walk, take the 1.2-mile loop around the park’s pretty, green lake. For a challenging, all-day hike, choose the 8-mile Gahuti Trail. Mountain bikers have more than 14 miles to explore. Hwy. 52 has beautiful mountain scenery and overlooks that are worth stopping for.

Oct. 14 -- Trees showing some color this week include: Hickories, Poplars, Maples, Oaks, Dogwoods, Sycamore, Sassafras and Sumac. Peak should be coming in the next few weeks.
  Fort Mountain State Park

Kayak tours of this park’s lake let you enjoy autumn color from a different perspective. Sign up for a ranger-led paddle or rent a canoe to explore on your own. Mountain bikers can explore 10 miles of trails ranging from beginner to experienced. This park is easily reached from I-20 exit 105.

Oct. 17  -- Dogwoods are turning red, tulip trees are turning yellow, and a the oaks are in the beginning stages of fall color. Leaves are falling everywhere! Wild flowers are nice however. Blazing Star in open areas like ditches and meadows, golden rods, and asters are all in full bloom.

  Hard Labor Creek State Park

This park near Rome is a good choice for families with young children. An easy walk circles a fishing lake, and kids enjoy feeding fish from the boardwalk. Older children will like the Marble Mine Trail which leads to a small waterfall with a pretty blue-green tint. Serious hikers can explore the nearby 330-mile Pinhoti Trail.

Oct. 14  --  Clemson and Gold!  Colors are finally beginning to emerge at James H Floyd State Park. From the Sourwoods and Maples to Yellow Poplar and Beech, you’ll see the transformation as we move into fall. For an exceptional view, canoe the lower lake and gaze upon the ridgeline and ever-changing foliage within the Chattahoochee National Forrest. 

  James H. (Sloppy) Floyd State Park

Georgia’s smallest state park sits on the shore of a gorgeous deep-green lake. Hikers can choose from the 2-mile Hemlock Falls Trail or 1-mile Non-Game Trail with a wildlife observation tower. Hwy. 197 is a particularly pretty road, passing Mark of the Potter and other popular attractions.  Boaters will enjoy looking at beautiful vacation homes and boat houses on this mountain lake.

Oct. 14 -- Colors are light and scattered inside the park and along Lake Borton shoreline.  Recent heavy rains and fluctuating temperatures have affected the amount of colors.  Dogwoods and sourwoods are displaying bright reds.  Poplars, walnut trees and oaks are showing lighter yellows.  This is a great time of the year to camp and enjoy cooler night temperatures. 

  Moccasin Creek State Park

Just 40 minutes north of Atlanta you’ll find a variety of trails with nice fall color. The easy, flat 4-mile Iron Hill Loop is open to bikes and foot traffic, offering great views of the lake and forest. Another good choice for lake views is the 5.5-mile Homestead Trail. Families with young children will like the paved walking path behind the park office. Be sure to explore the log cabin and blacksmith shed.

Oct. 17 -- At Red Top, the sweet gums and the dogwoods are the next gentle giants to show their Autumn colors.  After several nippy nights and a strong storm front many leaves are already coming down but the older, larger hardwoods are not yet unveiling their full splendor.  Between the mist on the broad waters of Lake Allatoona and the warm glow of the rising sun, the park is truly a beauty to behold from sun up to sun down right now.
  Red Top Mountain State Park

Protecting more than 6,000 acres around Dukes Creek, this is the perfect spot for fly fishing while enjoying fall color. Day visitors can picnic near the creek, and overnight guests can hike a private trail to Dukes Creek Falls. A 1.6-mile loop climbs to Laurel Ridge and provides a view of Mt. Yonah once most leaves are off the trees. This park is near many wineries and Helen’s Oktoberfest.

October 14 -- Last Sunday morning saw temperatures plunge and Autumn’s first frost covered many trees here. This event usually signals a more rapid change of leaf colors and we expect a peak in colors somewhere around October 15th through the 20th.

This week the “Leading Ladies” of the Fall Color Parade are our Sourwoods. Their strong ruby-red color has intensified greatly since last week all along Tsalaki Trail and also back along our several trails.  Maples normally are our most colorful tree…and this Fall we see another great “Maple Explosion” shaping up as many are showing intense scarlet red shades.
Now joining the colorful procession are the Sassafras trees. We have some of North Georgia’s largest Sassafras trees here. Right now they are turning their uniquely beautiful mix of orange, gold and scarlet. They promise to be far more colorful in the next two weeks. 

The Tulip Poplars are still turning light gold steadily but very often drop their leaves as soon as they reach peak color. Our Dogwoods have intensified and changed their color mix this week and now present a beautiful mix of light red to maroon colors. Sweetgums show a delightful array of maroon, red and yellow colors.
Many wildflowers offer a variety of colors and features. Right now the Goldenrod is in full bloom and the yellow is absolutely brilliant this year…especially in the Wetland Loop area. Another fascinating flower is the Virgin’s Bower. Back in late summer, the flowers were a bright white color. By now, however, the flowers have faded and have been replaced by large beige-colored feathery tufts which are actually the unique “tails” from the seed pods.  Our Curtiss Asters continue to radiate a lovely blue color all along the woodlines and roadsides.

  Smithgall Woods State Park

Just west of Atlanta you’ll find 9 miles of hiking trails, a beautiful creek and small lake. For an easy walk, take the popular 1-mile Red Trail which follows the creek to the ruins of an old mill. For more of a workout, continue past the mill to the Blue Trail, where you’ll climb steep bluffs for outstanding creek views. Sign up for a guided hike to learn more about this park’s Civil War history.

Oct 20 - The fall colors are becoming quite evident this week. Most noticeable are the reds of the Dogwoods, Red Maples, Sourwoods, and the brilliant Sumac. There is also a great deal of pale yellow amongst the Poplars and Hickories. Most striking now are the pinks of the Chalk Maples. The maroon of the Sweetgums is also quite evident. All of these colors look glorious against the background of green leaves and blue skies. The most popular trail for fall color is the red trail which leads through beautiful hardwood forests to the five-story New Manchester Mill and the half-mile of whitewater rapids (up to class IV+)

  Sweetwater Creek State Park

Tallulah is one of the most spectacular canyons in the Southeast, and you can choose from easy or difficult trails. Hike along the rim to several overlooks with waterfall views, or get a permit from the park office to trek all the way to the bottom. During November, you can watch expert kayakers as they enjoy the bi-annual “whitewater releases.” Be sure to see the park’s film because it includes heart-racing footage of kayakers and news clips from Wallenda’s famous tightrope walk across the gorge.

Oct. 20 -- Fall is in full swing here at Tallulah Gorge! Peak leaf season is still about a week away however great fall color can be seen throughout the entire park. Beautiful pockets of yellows, oranges and reds fill the gorge giving visitors the opportunity to take it all in from one of our 11 overlooks. Sunshine and crisp fall temperatures are in the forecast for all next week so get to Tallulah Gorge State Park now, while the beautiful weather and leaves are still here!

  Tallulah Gorge State Park

Avoid Oktoberfest crowds in Helen by hiking a pretty 3-mile trail which leads from the park into town. You can enjoy lunch and window shopping before hiking back to the trailhead. Mountain bikers can zip past fall color on the park’s challenging 7.5-mile bike loop. If you’re up for a steep hike, take the 4.8-mile Smith Creek Trail up to Anna Ruby Falls. (To avoid having to hike back, leave a second car at the falls.)

  Unicoi State Park & Lodge

VOGEL STATE PARK – Blairsville
The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail makes a nice day trip for experienced hikers, offering great mountain color and a birds-eye view of the park’s lake. For an easier walk, follow the Lake Loop to a small waterfall. The twisting roads around Vogel, particularly Wolf Pen Gap Road, offer some of north Georgia’s prettiest fall scenery.

Oct. 14 - Leaves around Vogel are developing more yellows and reds; however, the rain and wind have knocked many off the trees.  Some hikers consider this an advantage because the forest floor has pretty color.  While we are still not at peak, it’s a pretty time to visit.

  Vogel State Park


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