Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
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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 27 - We think leaves are now at their peak, or will be in the next couple of days.  What leaves remain from the big rain and wind storm two weeks ago, have now turned the mountain gold with bits of red and orange interspersed.  The oaks are still not cooperating for the most part, staying green or turning brown and dropping.  The yellow poplars are bare.  However, the hickories and maples are doing their part to make this a wonderful leaf season.  It was a great week for leaf watchers on the mountain!

  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. 29  --  This may be peak week for the leaves of Cloudland Canyon. Just about anywhere in the park has fantastic color. The best place to take in the most variety would be the overlooks around the Interpretive Center and a hike to the waterfalls will not disappoint.The color should last well into the weekend as some trees still have a bit of green. The colors are amazing this year but cold weater is forcasted, so be sure to catch the while they last. 

  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. 28 -- Some reds are still showing, and now some hickories are starting to turn orange and add vibrance to the variety.

  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. 23  --  Dappled yellows of hickory trees throughout the park. Spotted red hues on red maples and dogwood along pine mountain ridge.

  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. 22 -- Leaves are showing really good color and are starting to drop.  Hickories, Poplars, Maples, Oaks, Dogwoods, Sycamore, Sassafras and Sumac are still showing their colors.  We are near peak.
  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. 29  -- Beautifulf fall colors are becoming much more evident this week however we are still a little early for peak color. The Dogwood, Red Maple, and Sourwood trees are still displaying many lovely shades of red while closer to the ground, Sumac and Poison Ivy are showing brilliant crimson colors. Still striking are the pinks of the Chalk Maples. The maroon and purple of the Sweetgums are also now quite noticeable. Very recently, the brilliant golden yellows of the Hickories proclaim that the peak is near. All of these colors look glorious against the background of the remaining green leaves and the dazzling blue skies. The most popular trail for fall color is the Red Trail which leads through beautiful hardwood forests to the five-story, Civil War era New Manchester Mill and along half a mile of gorgeous rapids up to class IV+.

  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. 27  --  Peak is definitely just around the corner.  It’s amazing how much color has popped up along the hills over the last week.  Scattered colors of Red and Gold have been prominent for a while, but now our guest are starting to see Oranges, Purples, Yellows, Gold, and Reds.  The Oaks around James H. Floyd State Park have added a nice hue of color mixed in with the greens of pine and cedar. The Maple and Redbuds are already at peak, and will even look more amazing as the week progresses.  Come out this week and watch the transformation unfold before your eyes.  The Lower Lake Trail (1.3 miles) or Upper Lake Trail (.8) are the best areas to take a leisurely stroll to get top notched color.  For the guest hiking these trails may even get a fly by from the Bald Eagle that has been spotted inside the park the last few weeks.  

  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.

October 27 -  More fall colors are starting to show much of the colors are still light and scattered.  A few of the maples and sourwoods are displaying bright reds, walnuts & poplars are brilliant yellows.  Recent rains & winds have caused most of the leaves to fall.  The weather has brought warmer temperatures in the day & cooler temperatures at night.  Fisherman & women have been having good luck catching brown trout that are coming into Moccasin Creek from Lake Burton for their annual spawning run.  There are still camping reservations available to come & enjoy the beautiful scenery of the park.


  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. 27 -- Color is showing up slowly, with a mix of still-green, brownish yellow, and some nice reds and yellows. We are not yet at peak.
  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 24 --  While some colors have peaked, some are still emerging.  We think peak will still be closer to the first of November. While the Tulip Poplars have started to carpet the forest floors with their light gold leaves, the Hickories are coloring up rapidly with their fiery gold leaves. Also the American Beech trees around the Martin Mine trail area are developing their “golden glow” as well.  Sassafras trees are putting on their finest mixes of red and gold….but still have a bit more “dressing up” to do and should peak out next week.


  The Maples are gloriously beautiful now with a lot of bright red shades and some yellows as well. They should reach their peak colors by this weekend. The Sourwoods are now at their peak and their intense red is the most conspicuous color throughout the area. In different open areas, the Sumacs are contributing a red and gold mix.

The National Weather Service is calling for some frosty morning temperatures as we head toward the weekend. The cold mornings generally spur the color changes along rather quickly. 


  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 27 - Visitors to Tallulah Gorge State Park will be delighted by the fall colors that awaits them. While we are not quite at peak viewing season we are getting very close. Our maples and tulip poplars are bursting with color and can be seen all throughout the gorge. The weather is supposed to be great all week so come up to Tallulah Gorge and experience it's beauty for yourself. 

  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.)

Oct 28 -- The park is gorgeous right now, with colors at or nearing peak.  We're having ideal fall weather this week. Visitors will see pretty yellow hickories and poplars now, while most oaks are still green.

  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. 27 - Leaves around Vogel are reaching their peak right now, with pretty color expected through the next week.

  Vogel State Park


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