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.

Nov 5 -  Black Rock leaves officially peaked early last week.  After the peak, we had a Saturday packed with winds that removed most leaves from the trees.  That being said, one can stand at the top of the mountain and view all of the pretty leaves below.  Additionally, grand vistas abound with no leaves to block the view now.

  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.

Nov. 17  --  Cloudland Canyon's fall color is past peak, with most leaves down. Some of the browns  are still hanging on, but for the most part it is an open canopy, meaning hikers can appreciate unusual tree shapes and the canyon's rock walls.
  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.

Nov. 17 -- Fall color is still around at Don Carter, although we are moving past our peak. Beeches can still be viewed as they make their slow change from green to yellow, and some maples still have some orange and yellow. Most oaks are turning brown and beginning to fall, which will in turn open up some views to the lake.

  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.

Nov. 16 -  The park has been gorgeous this week, with many vibrant maples and chestnuts. Winds have been quickly blowing leaves down though, so we're moving past peak. Pastel yellow oak and hickory leaves are still showy along Pine Mountain Ridge.  Red maples provide a color mix of muted pinks, reds and yellows. A rainbow of colored leaves carpet  the forest floor.  Now is a good time to visit for nature photography. Lower areas, such as the campground, are showing the best leaves.

  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.

Nov. 20 -- Fort Mountain's peak leaf season has passed, with most foliage now on the forest floor.  Now is a good time to notice large rocks, small streams and unique tree shapes that would typically be hidden by leaves.
  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.

Nov. 6  -- We now have many Hickory Trees at their peak – bright yellow -- which can be found in campground and on nature trails.  Many Sweetgums are also peaking; they turn all different colors: red, purple and yellow.  Some Sweetgums display multi colors.  Oaks are also turning; some are gorgeous crimson.  Dogwoods are almost past peak, but many are still auburn red.  Sourwoods are about at their peak, many are on nature trail.  They are light pink, to orange, to crimson.  Maples are looking pretty good to, like sweetgums, they can be multi-colored.  Yellow, Orange, Red, Gold.  Many are on Nature Trails, Bike Trails, Horse Trails.

  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.

Nov. 17  --  Peak Season at James H. Floyd was beautiful, but extremely short.  The high winds and rain have now scattered our leaves along the forest floor, leaving a beautiful variety of oranges and yellows along trail sides.  There is still some color located around the campground and along the Marble Mine Trail.  

  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.

November 3 -  Most of the peak colors have disappeared with the high winds we had this past weekend.  What leaves are left have turned brown. Temperatures dropped into the upper 20s and lower 30s, highs were only in the 40s.  Campers braved the cold temps to enjoy the peaceful setting on Lake Burton and enjoy the Hemlock Falls Trail.


  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.

Nov. 20 -- Peak color has passed but there are still a few beautiful golden trees to enjoy.
  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.

Nov. 18 --  Today marks the close of the 2014 Fall Leaf Watch Season at Smithgall Woods State Park. Over the past weekend, strong winds and heavy rains brought down the remaining colorful leaves and now our trees begin a “long winter’s nap” until next Spring.

Hiking through Smithgall is still quite interesting. One becomes aware of just how numerous our American Beech Trees are. Even though most of the yellow color is gone from their leaves, they still cling tenaciously to their brown leaves which still have a certain light golden glow about them. Of all the deciduous trees, they keep their leaves the longest. Many of these trees will cling to their leaves until early Spring… releasing them just in time to begin sprouting new leaves!


The Red Oaks were among the last to turn their scarlet red colors this year. Here and there one finds a small tree with a few bright red leaves hanging on…waving a fond farewell in the cold north winds that are whipping through the park now.

All of our wildflowers have withered away now…awaiting the warmth of the coming Spring. However, if one draws near the banks of Duke’s Creek, one will find here and there a tiny colony of the beautiful little blue-colored Closed Gentians. Somehow they manage to prosper even in cold weather in moist pockets where a little warmth yet remains. These hardy little “gems” will still appear as late as mid January in the right conditions.


  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.
Nov. 18 - We are now at the tail end of the glory of the peak week for fall color. There is still much beauty both above and on the forest floor with at least a week of gorgeous color left. The Hickories are still an electrifying yellow-gold while the Sassafras are showing a lovely, more delicate yellow. The lovely shades of red of the Sourwood, Red Maple, and Oaks are very evident as are the gorgeous maroon and purple hues of the star-shaped leaves of the Sweet Gum. What is finally very noticeable this week are the golden-tan leaves of the Beech trees. The most popular trail for fall color is the Red Trail which takes you down to the five-story Civil War era textile mill and alongside the half a 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.

Nov. 17 - Unfortunately most of the best fall color here at Tallulah is gone, however the good news is that this allows for better visibility down the gorge and allows for better views of all five of our waterfalls.  Be sure to see the park's film in the visitor center.


  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.

Nov 17 - Most foliage is now on the forest floor, opening up views of interesting tree shapes, small streams and waterfalls, and rock outcrops.

  Vogel State Park


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